Converting the United States Military Industrial Complex into something that will create a sustainable future for humankind will be the great feat of history. Nothing impossible about it or even extremely challenging in terms of technology. It is what we should do as a species if we want our children and grandchildren to have any kind of a future. The problem, of course, is that minority of psychopathic neoliberals who happen to control most of the worlds wealth and want nothing to do with anything that does not give them even more god-like power. So we have something we should do and we have a stumbling block. And then we have Bernie Sanders.
The present Army Navy Air Force Marines establishment is about fighting wars here on Earth against other superpowers who really have no desire to watch the world economy crash and billions die in another global conflict. It is mostly a façade. The nations retain their militaries as a safeguard against any other power taking advantage of them. The United States maintains armed forces so far beyond what other nations do it is absurd and why we do that is fairly obvious- it is an industry that makes a lot of people rich. Those people and companies want to keep making money and anything threatening their gold mine is acted against swiftly.
The best strategy is thus to not threaten Military Industrial Complex (MIC) “wealth creators” but instead offer those players an alternative. That alternative is Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) using the Moon as the new industrial base to power planet Earth. Solar thermal towers with their mirror fields and molten salt storage are about the only practical technology for generating energy in a sustainable manner on Earth but unfortunately all the great deserts of the world combined are not going to enable a western standard of living for 10 billion people. And make no mistake, the only way out of this is to provide a decent standard of living for everyone on Earth.
While NewSpace ideology has caused inestimable damage to space exploration and colonization, the flagship company has at least popularized Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing (VTVL) as being the most efficient method of reusing rockets. It will likely be decades before reusing really large Super Heavy Lift Vehicles (SHLVs) breaks even economically but at least the Ayn-Rand-in-space-train-wreck has done something “not harmful.” Whether VTVL would have happened anyway if the shuttle boosters had been the originally specified pressure-fed ocean recovered type instead of solid fuel remains to be seen. I suspect with pressure-feds a variant of the shuttle would still be flying.
The way forward is a first stage at least half again as large as the Saturn V, landing on a ship at sea, as the first piece of hardware. Four large engines and a smaller central landing engine, will become the standard. Much like airliners have become a giant version of the original German ME-262 fighter, the standard rocket will become a larger version of the Saturn V. The second stage will fly around the planet and land back at the launch site using ceramic tile technology and one central engine and four smaller landing engines. And the third stage will be a wet workshop with the engine section doing a lunar free-return back to re-enter and land for reuse.
SHLVs from the U.S., from Russia, from China, with versions built under license by European and Asian companies, will largely replace the cold war toys and nuclear triad hardware still being developed or modernized. Warships and warplanes will no longer be the money-makers. The new Military Industrial Complex wealth creation strategy will be based on giant rockets. Lunar-water-shielded wet workshops will first go into Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) and then to the Lunar Cycler fleet and finally as spaceship crew compartments. Eventually the power stations will lift from the surface of the Moon and find their way to GEO where they will begin to beam carbon-free power down to planet Earth.
That is the Green New Space Deal.
Beyond changing over the Military Industrial Complex from Earth-based to space-based and powering planet Earth carbon-free there is the original colonization plan of Gerard K. O’Neill. In a hundred years the population of Earth will begin to decrease as beam-propelled space-liners leave daily for space habitats. Within a few centuries Earth will be a place to visit like a national park. Not only will Earth be a garden but immense spheres will be launched to other star systems centuries away. There are very few technical challenges to this bright future. In contrast, the road humankind is on now has a good chance of ending in extinction.