Where should we colonize first?


In Space News we have: The impossible EmDrive, Delta IV launch, Ariane 5 Launch, Altas V launch, Rosetta is getting closer and an amazing Google Lunar XPRIZE Planetarium show.

Our main topic this week: Where should we colonize first? We try something a bit different and bring on a few community members and ask the question to everyone! Eh… Concept on how to work this in the future is still in process.

TMRO is a crowd funded show. If you enjoyed the episode, consider helping us continue to produce them. Not only do you get more shows in the future, but rewards as well! More info at http://www.patreon.com/tmro

Posted in ,


  1. John Bensted on August 4, 2014 at 3:58 am

    I believe the best way for humanity to colonize space is to build space colonies of the type Gerard O’Neil advocated in the late seventies. With our advancements in robotics, telepresence and artificial intelligence we can mine the Moon and asteroids, and build the space colonies with very little direct human involvement. These space colonies could be built with custom environments pre-ordered by the colonists. Once human-rate commercial space travel is up and running along with companies like Planetary Resources it will become possible to build the first space colony as a real estate development project. Prospective colonists would buy property and custom design their homes before building begins. Today many people are able to work remotely (telecommute) and this population will only keep growing. Such people would be prime candidates to be property owners in a space colony.

    Mars and the Moon are great places to visit but they are at the bottom of gravity wells and are covered by very fine dust that could cause serious respiratory problems. Low gravity may be a problem for human health, not to mention fetal development. Exposure to cosmic rays and solar flares will drive colonists underground on both the Moon and Mars. We can engineer our space colonies to account for all of those problems and we don’t have to climb up and down gravity wells, we will just dock and undock.

    Also, such space colonies will teach us how to travel to the stars in generational starships ….. should the whole warp drive thing not pan out!

  2. DougSpace on August 4, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Our first destination for colonization should be where it is: cheapest, safest, resource-rich, and potentially connectable to markets. That place would be the Moon, hands down. The Moon isn’t just a sandbox to prepare us for our “real” destination — Mars. With the resources at the lunar poles, the Moon is a legitimate destination for long-term settlement in its own right.

    A reusable, cryogenic lunar lander is the key technology needed to establish an ice harvesting operation, hence a cis-lunar transportation infrastructure, and then a permanent lunar base. ULA has donated a couple of its Centaur upper stages to Masten and Masten has stated that he could modify a Centaur to be able to land on the Moon for about $50 million. $50 million? That’s chump change for NASA. We really, really need to fund that development.

    Ad astra!

  3. Balazs on August 8, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Hi all,


    This is an interesting read. It should clear up some of the common questions and objections people seem to have after they read second or third hand reports on the subject.

    Regarding where we should go first:
    I don’t think it matters as long as we get there within my lifetime. I just want to see us do cool stuff before I die. Hopefully things will pick up in the next 30 years.

  4. birchoff on August 13, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Its funny how incorrect information quickly spreads across the intertubez….

    Please check out the link Balaz referenced for the actual paper. Unlike most research papers I have seen this is remarkable accessible as it only details the experimental protocol along with the test results and ideas for further testing.

    First, the experiment is not wrong because the null article showed thrust. This misunderstanding has been rattling around the web since this hit the news because all the early articles about the report decided to only depend on the abstract that was avaialble on NASA’s NTRS site (The paper was available from the conference site via a google search and $25). The reason this is a problem is because it leaves out some details that are important to know before you can call the experimental protocol into question. A quick summary of those details are, NASA Eagleworks Lab carried out a test campaign that tested two types of RF Thruster devices. One type was created by Cannae LLC and the other type, which you display a picture of in the show, was a replica they made of the EmDrive. Cannae provided two versions of their device, one that contained slots on the bottom of inside of their cavity while the other one didn’t. Now according to Cannae’s theory of why these things should work, they labelled the un-slotted version of their device as a null test article. It is also the null test article being referred to in the NTRS abstract. While testing the Cannae devices the Eagleworks team also tested a 50ohm resistive load to make sure their test setup wasn’t showing thrust when it wasn’t supposed to. Now if you skim through the paper Balaz referenced above you will see that both Cannae devices generated thrust while the resistive load did not. Which means the only conclusion that can be drawn so far from the limited testing the NASA team did are the following

    * At best the Cannae theory of the slots in the cavity providing the asymmetry needed to create thrust is incorrect
    * At worst there is some spurious effect they have not accounted for in their experimental protocol (See further below for what I mean)

    In addition they even did a computer model of the Cannae devices to map where the electric fields are in the device and noted that the fields where at their strongest around the dieelectric which was present in both the slotted and un-slotted devices. As a result they proposed this may have been the reason for why the Cannae null article provided thrust. This seems like a reasonable proposal from the information in the paper since the EmDrive replica, that also showed thrust, contained a dieelectric within its cavity as well. The team had also tested the EmDrive replica without a dielectric and that version did not show any thrust.

    Now the one issue I can see with their experimental protocol after repeated reads through the paper, Is that both types of devices seem to have been tested in a vacuum chamber that was left at ambient atmospheric pressure; Instead of being evacuated to mimic a hard vacuum. The reason I say “seem”, is because while the NTRS Abstract says they didn’t test at vacuum their experimental protocol description in the paper gives the impression that they did. The only reason I believe the NTRS abstract was correct is because both devices run off an RF amplifier and in their conclusion they stated that they didn’t have a RF Amp capable of working in a vacuum and they are planning to rectify that problem in their next campaign, which I believe should begin later this year.

    Secondly, the order of magnitude difference between the Shawyer/Chinese tests for the EmDrive replica and the NASA tests is a direct result of different power levels. NASA was running there tests at 28 watts for the Cannae devices (only other tests were from Cannae themselves, that I know of) and under 20 watts for the EmDrive replica. While Shawyer and the Chinese were doing their tests in the kilowatt range. According to the conclusion in the NASA paper they will be running higher power levels in their next test campaign.

  5. birchoff on August 13, 2014 at 4:18 am

    On a seperate note. While I am excited that NASA is putting the Cannae and EmDrive through the ringer to see if there really is anything to them. One other propelantless (NOT REACTIONLESS) propulsion idea that I would love to see you guys cover is the Mach Effect Thruster. Its creator wrote a very very good book about it and the future possibilities of it if real in a book called Making Starships and Stargets (http://www.amazon.com/Making-Starships-Stargates-Interstellar-Exploration/dp/1461456223). He takes a very rigorous perspective on the development of the idea and explains in a very thorough but still pretty accessible manner the theory behind it. The experiments that have been done. Towards the end he elaborates on how the proof of concept Mach Effect Thruster could potentially lead to creating Stargates by taking the reader through the theoretical underpinnings once again in an accessible manner followed by a rough description of how that theory could be applied to create a stargate. Now while the stargate stuff is a potential outcome not a guaranteed one (the author is very clear on this). There is a strong likely hood that given the proof of concept work he has done so far it is a real possibility.

    That said of all the potentially propelantless drive ideas I have seen, I believe Dr. Woodwards work as outlined in his book probably has the best chance of not only explaining how propelantless drives could actually work, but also how to build them. I hope and believe that Dr. White who I believe runs the NASA EagleWorks lab that did the Cannae/EmDrive tests that lit up the internet is also planning to test Woodward’s devices. So it would be nice if we could get at least an honorable mention on this vidcast about this idea. I would definitely suggest reading this book first though as it is hands down the best source I have seen explaining what the hell Mach Effect is and how Mach Effect Thrusters are built.

Leave a Comment