Five years ago one of my first blog posts concerned the deleterious effects of cosmic rays and how this dictated the conditions of Human Space Flight (HSF). This illustration from the 2006 Scientific American article by Eugene Parker should be on the wall of the office of every spacecraft designer. It is an extremely accurate depiction of the only way humankind is going to travel Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO) to the outer solar system. The single important detail left out is the tether system attached to it providing artificial gravity. The first place to go out there is not Mars but Ceres. Using a “Soft” Nuclear Pulse system as proposed by Johndale C. Solem https://fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/docs1/00189777.pdf this could be accomplished within ten years much like the Apollo Moon landing.
Of course there is no cold war to enable this new multi-billion dollar project so what would be the driver? The Neoliberal economic cult now dominating civilization is slowly destroying the ecosystem and any chance of accomplishing these kinds of public works projects so how to overcome that obstacle? And lastly what would be a valid reason to even consider spending the time and resources on such a mission? The short answer is the Green New Deal. From wiki:
“The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed package of United States legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality. The name refers back to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt’s economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.
In the 116th United States Congress, it is a pair of resolutions, House Resolution 109 and S. Res. 59, sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). On March 25, 2019, Markey’s resolution failed to advance in the U.S. Senate in a margin of 0–57, with most Senate Democrats voting “present” in protest of an early vote called by Republicans. Among the public, there is consistently high support among Democrats for the Green New Deal, whereas Republicans, in particular Fox News viewers, oppose the Green New Deal.”
Instead of the “GND” the best path is the “GNSD”, the Green New Space Deal. A mission to Ceres would be part of converting our present Military Industrial Complex into a International Space Complex (ISC) with the superpowers as international partners in a program to power the planet carbon-free from space and also provide Lebensraum. The ultimate goal is space solar energy and space colonization as envisioned by Gerard K. O’Neill. And after that, once most of the population has expanded into the solar system and we have some assurance that humankind can survive a Extinction Level Event, we can move to the next phase which is star travel.
With enough space solar power stations beam propulsion of miles-in-diameter Bernal Spheres becomes a practical possibility. Accelerating these spheres to a percentage of the speed of light and sending them on centuries long journeys to other solar systems is the best insurance policy for the human race and a practice of the survival imperative. If we are not, as a species, actively seeking to address the imperative then we are doing the opposite and asking for extinction.
The troubleshooting tree for this is not too complicated. Our first problem is we have a very short lifespan as individuals and this will equate to a very short lifespan as a species. We will not even address this problem collectively partly because of fear and guilt over those who have died and will die while we try to solve it and partly because of a very powerful denial mechanism built into the way our minds work. The question is best answered in that branch of the logic tree concerning how to stop death. Freezing people is not at present an option simply because we cannot do so without causing damage to the person that will not allow them to be revived, effectively killing them.
This damage occurs when ice crystals form and rupture cell membranes and disruptions to other delicate structures. It is not a huge technical challenge and storage techniques already exist to limit this damage. http://www.themanitoban.com/2011/02/freezing-without-destroying/1904/
As I have speculated repeatedly on this blog- when some dog or monkey is successfully thawed out and revived by a non-damaging technique that will be the most important event in recorded history. An A.D. “After Death” calendar might very well replace our present one on that day. I predict “The Great Rescue” will begin at that moment and the entire human race will mobilize in a frantic emergency response to save those dying of old age or terminal illness. But that will only be the beginning of course because storing frozen humans can only go on for so long and an equally frantic crash program to reverse the aging process will then take over; “The Great Race.” The race will be to find a cure for aging and start reviving people before we run out of storage space for the dying. And when that cure is found will the final stage begin, “The Great Awakening.”
I further prophesy the human race will quickly begin to expand first into our solar system and then to others. The means to effect this will already be available as spaceships filled with frozen colonists will embark on centuries long journeys to other stars to found new space colonies. What will eventually happen to those of us lucky enough to “make the cut” and find ourselves with an indefinite lifespan? I expect a new paradigm of spirituality will take hold based on the idea of “building Gods” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHljodCla6Q
These Super-AI’s will be developed for the express purpose of building a universal time machine to resurrect the dead and likely insure the survival of life from this plane by escaping to another. Those of us who make it to the A.D. (After Death) era and have an indefinite lifespan will at some point die by misadventure or eventually be changed into something else we cannot now imagine. But we have to first escape from what presently looks like certain extinction. We are an incredibly stupid species as self-aware life forms go and this might be the filter in the Fermi Paradox we are too stupid to comprehend. Biological life is just not intelligent enough to keep from self-destructing.
As a Futurist, a Christian, and an American I find these times far more troubling than the late 60’s when so many changes were taking place in society. I was just a boy then and did not really understand what was happening. I remember my brother returning from Vietnam wounded and infected with jungle rot and our Mother crying. I remember my Father at sea most of my childhood. Now in the last decades of my life I still do not understand how we can be so certainly doomed. There seems no common task or philosophy permeating human culture and history that worships and seeks a longer and certain existence for ourselves or our children.
Only greed and purposely sown confusion.