All Astronautical Evolution posts in 2017:

Elon Musk’s “Great Martian” (Oct.)

Elon Musk’s Mars Plans: Highlights from His Second Iteration (Sept.)

What is a Supercivilisation? (Aug.)

Quantifying the Assumptions Behind the METI Debate (July)

Five Principles of a Sustainable Manned Mars Programme (June)

Pale Red Dot: Mars comes to Oxford (May)

Back to 2016:

Elon Musk and Mars: Looking for a Snowball Effect (Oct.)

New in 2015:

Short story The Marchioness

AE posts:

2017: Mars…

2016: Stragegic goal for manned spaceflight…

2015: The Pluto Controversy, Mars, SETI…

2014: Skylon, the Great Space Debate, exponential growth, the Fermi “paradox”…

2013: Manned spaceflight, sustainability, the Singularity, Voyager 1, philosophy, ET…

2012: Bulgakov vs. Clarke, starships, the Doomsday Argument…

2011: Manned spaceflight, evolution, worldships, battle for the future…

2010: Views on progress, the Great Sociology Dust-Up…

Chronological index

Subject index

General essays:

Index to essaysincluding:

Talk presented to students at the International Space University, May 2016

Basic concepts of Astronautical Evolution

Options for Growth and Sustainability

Mars on the Interstellar Roadmap (2015)

The Great Sociology Debate (2011)

Building Selenopolis (2008)


Basic Concepts

Stephen Ashworth, Oxford, UK

=============== AE ===============

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Astronautical Evolution is my term for a focus on human society based on the following statements:

(1)   Most of the material and energy resources of the Universe which could support life do not in fact do so.

(2)   The evolution of life from non-living chemistry depends upon a particular combination of sunlight, air, water, rocks and carbon compounds which is relatively rare, existing only on Earth in our own Solar System.

(3)   The resources of the other planets and asteroids, and the full power of the Sun and stars, can in principle be used to create extraterrestrial living-space, but only through the use of technology.

(4)   If a technological species were to evolve, it would have to go through an intermediate semi-technological phase closely resembling present-day human society.

(5)   I conclude, therefore, that the colonisation of space is one possible outcome of the present-day rapid growth of human society, providing that the technical and economic problems of adapting to space can be overcome.

(6)   This is an evolutionary process resembling the emergence of our ancestors onto the land during the Devonian period some 400 million years ago. We today are amphibians in the sense that the solutions we are finding to immediate problems of life on Earth are fortuitously at the same time equipping us for occupation of a new ecological niche away from Earth. Being an evolutionary process, it is not controlled by any goal-oriented entity (such as a government, a deity or a mystical force), and therefore its outcome is not predictable in advance.

(7)   These theoretical considerations are now of practical interest, since the growth of modern industrial civilisation is beginning to run up against ecological limits imposed by Earth’s biosphere. The question as to where growth is leading us is one of the most critical social, economic and political issues of the current century.

See next: Options for Growth and Sustainability

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