Tag Archives: Lagrange point colonization

The Humanist Republic of Mordan

Imagine a continent with many sovereign nations, but one of those countries is frequently referred to with the name of that continent, to much annoyance of the inhabitants of the other countries. Even if that particular country is the most populous on that continent, has the largest armed forces, the largest economy; that country covers only a fraction of the entire continent, and yet the name of the continent has become synonymous with that one country.

Of course, this causes a lot of confusion. After all when does the continent’s name refer to that particular country (or its citizens) and when to the entire continent (and its inhabitants)? A rational reaction would be to avoid such confusion in the first place by not naming a country after the continent, unless it covers the entire continent.

Lagrangia means land of Lagrange. It is a poetic reference to the Lagrange points, a popular destination in space colonization literature. But what is so special about Lagrange points? Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered, after a thorough analysis of Newtonian physics, that in each system in which an object orbits another; there are five points where the gravity and inertial forces of these objects would cancel each other. The main consequence of these Lagrange points is that an object which is located at such a point, will remain there.

Later analysis demonstrated that the fourth and fifth Lagrange points were even more special. Bodies that are in close proximity of either Lagrange point 4 or 5, will orbit those points. And they will stay there. These properties make the L4 and L5 points interesting for stationing space settlements.

Because L4/L5 cover large  areas, we could compare them with continents. Multiple space settlements could be located there, and hence multiple nations. It is in no way necessary that all space settlements will form a political union. Ideological differences among space settlements might prevent such union.

On a practical note, things are even more complicated. Not only there multiple Lagrange points, but there also more sets of Lagrange points. There are Lagrange points in the Earth-Moon system, in the Sun-Earth system, the Sun-Mars system, the Sun-Jupiter, the Saturn-Titan system. And so on. In fact the Solar System is covered with Lagrange points.

Consequently, using Lagrangia as a reference to the Lagrange points, is quite broad. Maybe too broad. After all to which (set of) Lagrange point(s) are you referring to? And since there are many Lagrange points, where many different Space nations can be located, calling one of those nations Lagrangia, will only cause confusion.

It would be best if no space nation would ever use the name Lagrangia for itself. And contrary to what the title of this site might suggest, we have never intended to call the state we want to found Republic of Lagrangia, which is only the working name of our organization. Instead we intend to name the state we want to found at either SEL-4 or SEL-5, the Humanist Republic of Mordan.

From now on we will use the name Mordan more consistently as the reference to the state we want to establish. However, this does not change anything to our commitment to secularism, (classic) liberalism, humanism and (classic) republicanism.

Terminology

Lagrange points

Talking about and referring to Lagrange points can be confusing, since there are Lagrange points in every system in which one celestial body orbits another. So when talking about Lagrange point colonization, one need to specify which system he is referring to.

Republic of Lagrangia is in favour colonizing the 4th or 5th Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system. Since it’s quite cumbersome to repeat this phrase all over again, we will from now on simply refer to these points as SEL-4 or SEL-5, with SEL standing for Sun-Earth Lagrange point. This system allows us also to easily refer to other Lagrange points: SML for the Lagrange points of the Sun-Mars system, or SJL for the Sun-Jupiter system.

Asteroids

The Main Asteroid Belt (MAB), or simply the Asteroid belt, consists of those asteroids which orbits are between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. These asteroids are called main belt asteroids (MBA).

There are also asteroids outside the MAB. Those asteroids which orbits are (at least partially) within the orbit of Mars are called Near Earth Asteroids (NEA).

Trojan asteroids are asteroids which have been trapped into a system’s L4 or L5. Most famous are the Jovian Trojans, but also Martian, Neptunian and Terrestrial Trojans have been discovered. Especially the last are of particular interest, since a population of Terrestrial Trojans will provide the mineral resources needed to build space habitats and for export to Earth.

At this moment the existence of one Earth Trojan Asteroids has been confirmed, but scientists believe more Earth Trojans should exist.

Space habitats

A space habitat is a space station designed for hosting a permanent population of a substantial size. Space habitats, also known as space settlements, are located in free space as opposed to colonies on or under the surface of a celestial body. When we talk about space colonization, we mean the creation of space habitats.

Why colonising the Sun-Earth Lagrange points?

This post was originally published on blogspot.com on June 6, 2012

In this post I will provide more clarity about our position that man should colonize the Lagrange points of the Earth-Sun system (in this post I simply use the term Lagrange point in order to refer to these).

In two earlier posts I discussed the arguments the colonization of the moon and Mars. Contrary to what most people tend to believe, many space colonization advocates do not support the colonization of these two particular objects. Why? First concern is gravity, in order to stay healthy people need gravity. And since we know that the Moon’s gravity is far too low, and that of Mars is also likely too low, it would be a better idea to use man-made structures, known as space habitats, which provide artificial gravity through rotation.

But gravity is not the only objection for the colonization of objects, one of the most important issues is natural resources. The Moon lacks many resources essential for life, especially hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. The Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs), however, are expected to posses nearly all elements we need to maintain a high-tech civilization and also easier to reach in terms of energy consumption (for a more detailed discussion see here).

Energy consumption and energy efficiency are very important issues. Since the Lagrange points require less energy to reach than the Moon, it also mean that it would require less fuel to launch a space craft. Less fuel, means less costs. This also implies that returning valuable resources to Earth, will out compete lunar mining activities. Therefore an asteroidal colony has a greater economic viability than a lunar colony in the long run.

Another concern is less technical, but probably more important, is politics. Since the Moon is generally considered to belong to all humans, setting up a lunar colony and mining operations is very likely to become subject of much controversy. Although it’s technically true that this whole common heritage of mankind bullshit, also applies to asteroids, but I expect that most people will not get any strong feelings about a bunch of mere rocks.

Although most NEAs are not located at the Lagrange points, they can easily be reached from there. Further some planetary scientists that so-called Earth trojans might exist, until now the existence of only one such object has been confirmed, see here for more. Some space advocates propose bring NEAs into earth orbit. I don’t believe this will be a good idea, due to the increased risks an asteroid impact, but it could be a nice idea to bring some valuable asteroids to the Lagrange points, if there are no usable Earth trojans.

Although the Lagrange points are easier to reach in terms of energy consumption, the distance between them and the earth is still huge and as a result travel time is in the order of months instead of days in case of the Moon. This both an advantage as a disadvantage, the latter no need an explanation, but the former does. In case of a conflict with one of the major terrestrial powers, a sovereign moon colony will be an easy prey for a military intervention, while Lagrange point colonies are able to detect such mission months in advance and thus they will be able to act accordingly. Particle beam weapons will made it possible to destroy a hostile space craft within hours after detection, without the need of launching an interception missile. So we can conclude that colonies based at the Lagrange points can more easily obtain and maintain their political independence than any lunar colony.