The important question is how are we going to fund our plans. The cornerstones of our funding plan are crowd funding and incrementalism. The introduction of internet and online banking, has made crowd funding possible. The idea is that the members of the public will make a small donation to fund projects they like. Several artistic projects, games and even companies are successfully financed through crowd funding. There are actually two kinds of crowd funding, donation and loans. In the latter case the money has to be repaid with interest, in both cases a large sum of money can be raised by a large crowd willing to donate/invest a small amount of money.
Incrementalism is that we start small. First we want to collect around €100,000 in donations from the public, with this money we want to buy/lease a piece of land in Northern Chile. Subsequently we want to lend up to a million Euros for building our spaceport. In the next phase we will offer our launch facilities to customers in order to generate revenue for both paying interest and reinvesting. When we can run our launch base profitably or at least almost profitably, we can ask for a second and larger loan (through crowdsourcing) for our first NEO mission. Once we can return a sample containing some precious metals, the age of Space Colonies is finally arrived.
The third principle of our funding policy is that we do not accept government funding or large private donations. Since we want to create a new independent republic in Outer Space, we prefer ten thousand donations of €100 to one donation of €1,000,000. Once we allow government sponsoring, we are at risk of becoming a colony of an existing state. Also we do not want to allow that wealthy people or corporations can buy into our movement, with the result that our “republic” only serves the purposes of our “donors”. This, however, does not mean that we will never cooperate with governments or corporations, but only if we believe such an action would be beneficial for our cause.
No involvement with Lunar or Mars colonies
There are a lot of organizations devoted at the colonization of the Moon and/or Mars, we will not participate in their efforts. We do not see any benefit of the establishment of human settlements on the Moon and our red neighbour. Both celestial bodies have the disadvantage of their low gravity, which is bad of human health. But on the other hand the gravity of these bodies great enough, to give them a high escape velocity. Mars has an escape velocity which is about half Earth’s (which is 11 km/s) and the Moon’s is about a fifth, where the escape velocity of asteroids is close to zero.
Escape velocity is of great concern for space colonists, because in order to reach this velocity energy is needed. Reducing energy requirements is saving money, which improves the economical credibility of space settlement programs. When we realize that there are no resources on the Moon or Mars we cannot find on near earth asteroid or comets, we see that it makes no sense to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars.
In fact all resources we can find on Mars and the Moon, are delivered there by asteroids. Some people will cite the (presumed) lunar reserves of helium 3 (a proposed fusion fuel) as a reason for Lunar colonies. We, however, believe that there is no need for helium 3 as an energy source in the Inner Solar System. If the Outer Solar System will be colonized helium 3 extraction from Uranus makes more sense.
We should not forget to discuss this very important issue. In order to get anywhere in space we need to launch spacecrafts in the first place. So we need a launch platform. Theoretically those platforms can be everywhere on the planet, even at sea, but is preferable to launch rockets somewhere near the equator. From a practical perspective we should locate our launch site should be at some distance away from populated areas. For these reason we believe that Northern Chile (Norte Grande) is an ideal location, save for the benefits of its location it also takes into account that Chile is politically a stable country.
In line with the previous section, we prefer traditional rockets over all proposed but speculative launch systems. Although we recognize the drawbacks of rockets, the fact remains that chemical rockets at least work. While all other proposed alternative launch systems are never tested at full-scale. We can invest many millions of dollars in investigating, for instance, the use of rail gun, but if in the end this system does not work as expected we will lose all our credibility as an organization. In is already difficult to promote space colonization, the only way to convince the mass public is by building an actual space habitat. But wasting our money with speculative launch systems, we are doing the space movement more harm than good.
From both technical and environmental reasons, we believe that hydrogen fueled rockets are the best choice. Technical advantage is that hydrogen rockets has the best efficiency and performance (this why the Space Shuttle used hydrogen fueled engines), and the environmental benefit is that hydrogen rocket only produce water as exhaust. Many other rockets are powered by hydrazine which as fuel is very poisonous and it exhaust gasses are also not very friendly for our already vulnerable atmosphere.
How do want to get the needed hydrogen and oxygen? Very simple, electrolysis of water. Our plan is to install a large number of solar arrays in the Atacama desert, the electricity they generate will be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. We realize that the Atacama desert is the driest in the world, but through the use of solar desalination it is possible to produce rocket fuel from sea water.
It is important to note that we can already in this phase generate revenue. By offering some of our launch capacity to third parties. This is central to our ideas of incremental funding, which we will explain in a later section.
See also: Launch facility location options
In the last section we saw that in situ resource utilization is key to reducing the costs of a space colonization. Space settlement programs are expensive, so any method to reduce the startup costs is welcome. (I say startup costs, because once asteroid mining becomes profitable space colonies will be economically self-sustaining, but that will probably be at least after two decades.) One other way of reducing costs is by making use of off-the-shelf components as much as possible.
According to Eric Drexler extensive use of off-shelf-components can reduce costs with a factor six. Further Drexler argues that space stations do not have to be made of “special” space materials, many ordinary materials can do the job. Mass production has made this components cheap. One frequently made assertion for special designed components for space stations, is that is important to reduce launch mass. Drexler challenges this “wisdom” by stating that the required research and development costs more money than is save by the reduced mass.
By relying on off-the-shelf components as much as possible we will save a lot on research and development. Are we against R&D? No, but wasting money on reinventing the wheel over and over again, is what has caused the effective collapse of the US space program. But in fact a lot of research has already be done in the last fifty years on this subject. Much more research will not make space colonization to happen any sooner, on the contrary. Of course some research has to be done, but only when necessary to solve practical issues.