Settling Space, John Strickland’s second book on the human future in space, continues where his first book, Developing Space, leaves off. The 21st century battle to replace throwaway rockets with reusable spacecraft has been won. Thanks to reusability, the cost of getting to space has plunged dramatically. And the government has left the spaceship business to private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. You, an ordinary customer, can now buy a ticket to space for the cost of an automobile. Or less. What’s more, humans have already established bases on Mars, That was all covered in Strickland’s book one, Developing Space. Now humanity’s next task is to establish towns, cities, farms, forests, and factories in the heavens. But as humans spread civilization to the barren balls of stone in the sky, what is the best location for space cities and what’s the best way to build them?
Strickland answers these questions in nuts and bolts detail, with vivid illustrations by Anna Nesterova and with breathtaking vision. He gives the most completely expert, thought out, safe, affordable, economical, and practical outline of how we will turn Mars green ever published. Strickland, a board member of the National Space Society and the Chief Analyst of the Space Development Steering Committee, has quadruple-checked every fact and has used the brainpower of some of the best in the space business, people like co-author Sam Spencer who provides sections on the mineralogy and mining of Mars, the Moon and asteroids and the use of the mined materials to produce propellants, life-support requirements, and to build settlements and in-space Rotating Space Colonies.
Settling Space assumes that building human settlements in space will be done by profit-making companies, not governments. Some space futurists pack their projections with unobtanium, magic physics like Star Trek’s warp drives. But not Strickland. He shows you what is actually possible. When he brings in a technology that has still not been refined, it’s one that’s on the cusp, like fusion, something the sun uses every day of the week.
Because Mars is strafed by hazardous space radiation, Strickland’s earliest Mars cities are underground, protected, with viewing towers above the surface where you can survey the landscape. But Strickland shows you in detail how we will grow food and enjoy greenery on Mars or in space. Then he shows the concrete details of how we’ll turn Mars into an earth-like planet, a new home for life, a new ecosystem in which life can frisk, evolve, and play. And Strickland explains exactly how we will build domed cities where you’ll be able to enjoy the sight of the sky and the vastness around you.
But the real bonanza for life may not be on a planet. It may be in massive colonies, in mega-architecture, in space. It may be in the vast tracts of farms, fields, forests, and parks of glass, steel, and concrete spheres and doughnuts hung in space. Strickland’s genius is his gift for the nitty-gritty details. He shows you and me exactly how these seemingly impossible structures can be built. For example, where would the raw materials for metal, glass, concrete, and micro-chips come from? The dust and stone of the Moon, and the rock and metal of asteroids, as explained by Sam Spencer, using available industrial engineering methods.
But just how would these construction materials be fashioned into structures big enough to contain all the pyramids and still have room for a city the size Spokane? Strickland proposes huge automated “Jig Factories,” monster construction machines housing hundreds of industrial robots on rails, steadily turning out a doughnut-like ring, a torus, for a settlement. Anna Nesterova’s images explain the concept, show the construction phases, and reveal what the inside of such settlements might look like.
Then there’s the ultimate long-term goal—taking life and humans to other solar systems. Strickland shows you and me in detail what he calls “a generation ship” and a “hibernation starship.” He proposes both the means of propulsion and the way that you and I could travel to the stars in style. The grand finale? A detailed vision of how we humans will green and garden the planets we find around another star. In other words, Strickland shows how we humans will be the Johnny Appleseeds of life, taking nature far beyond the one ball of stone it currently knows.
Author of: The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History (“mesmerizing”-The Washington Post), Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 21st Century (“reassuring and sobering”-The New Yorker), The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism (“A tremendously enjoyable book.” James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic), The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates (“Bloom’s argument will rock your world.” Barbara Ehrenreich), How I Accidentally Started the Sixties (“Wow! Whew! Wild! Wonderful!” Timothy Leary), and The Mohammed Code (“A terrifying book…the best book I’ve read on Islam.” David Swindle, PJ Media).