This post was originally published on blogspot at January 17, 2012
Some proponents of seasteading claim that seasteading will provide useful experiences for future space colonies. In this article I will explain why we of the Lagrangian Republican Association disagree with them.
First of all we don’t believe that seasteading is a necessary step towards the habitization of Space. This because of the fact that both concepts rely on different technological approaches. Seasteading is the logical extension of seafaring and therefore this concept uses (known) maritime technology. Spacesteading on the other hand requires different technology, due to the different conditions in space compared to those on the oceans. So we can conclude that from a technological point of view seasteading will not provide any useful NEW information, we can use for space colonization. Further space colonization requires a more advanced level of organization than seasteading, which is a natural consequence of my remarks on technology.
Secondly I actually believe that seasteading will undermine our efforts to establish a spaceborn nation. When seasteads will be operational, most (financial) resources will be spent to maintain the seastead(s). And therefore will not available to support our space colonization program. Further we have to coop with the conservative nature of humans. Most to nearly all people are not likely to willingly give up their fancy seasteads. So our “joint” seasteading/spacesteading coalition will split.
While seasteading proponents are champions in emphasizing the assumed benefits of their concept, mainly political liberty, they forget that political liberty is only possible if the seasteads are economical suitable. Due to their nature seasteads lack natural resources. This lack made them extra vulnerable to foreign pressure. Of course seasteaders could solve this problem in several ways.
First they could import this resources, but they should have to have something in return, most likely human resources. But due to their relative small numbers made this rather difficult.
A more suitable solution would be deep sea mining and mineral extraction from seawater. The seasteaders could build a fleet of ships committed to the winning of manganese nodules, which contain several useful minerals. But they have to realise that countries like Brazil, China and India are likely also to be interested in manganese nodules, and these nation are in the possession of well trained navies, which are able to kick out the seasteaders.
The extraction of minerals out seawater is difficult and requires a lot of energy. These made it very unlikely it will ever be an economically suitable solution. Further both methods are potentially harmful to the environment.
But the solar system contains a lot of smaller and larger bodies which are abundant in minerals. They can be won with no effects for the environment. furthermore these resources are greater than all terrestrial resources together. This will lessen compitition for them.
Therefore space colonies are more self-sufficient and therefore less vulnerable to external political pressure than seasteads. Also the immense distances between space habitats make military actions against them very hard, while a single missile can bring down a seastead.
Our conclusion is therefore that the prospects of seasteading are not so bright as seastead fundamentalists promise us.