Terraforming in Context of the Evolving Space Infrastructure

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M. Hempsell (2005), JBIS, 58, 385-391

Refcode: 2005.58.385
Keywords: Terraforming, space infrastructure, space habitats, space stations, population growth

Most discussion of terraforming planets considers the subject as an isolated activity that is independent of all other space activity. In practice only a society with a very large space infrastructure already in place could possibly undertake such projects and terraforming would be a part of the overall development of space. Also only a society with a continually expanding population would have a requirement for terraformed worlds. From this viewpoint terraforming could be seen as one stage in a progression of habitable space facilities that grow in size and sophistication as the space infrastructure expands. The paper outlines such a progression of fixed manned space infrastructure elements from simple platforms thorough to ultra- planets with habitable environments. This step by step perspective places terraforming into a wider context and provides an insight into some of the issues involved with it. It highlights that they may be a stopping point at the colony level (with a population of a few million) and expansion is then achieved by building more colonies rather than moving to more ambitious proposals such as terraforming.

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