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

Abstract:
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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