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Old May 10 2014, 06:18 AM   #16
Wingsley
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Re: how would you build a colony?

There are all kinds of variables involved in characterizing how colonization works. For instance:

How far out on the "frontier" is it? Is it outside Federation space? Or is it basically a colony settled in the Federation interior? If a band of colonists leaves the Federation entirely (that may have been the case with the American Continent Institute science team aboard the S.S. Columbia in "The Menagerie"), then the ship they depart in is taking everything they need to set up a colony in one shot; either they are successful or they're not. If the S.S. Columbia really went "out there", they knew better than to realistically expect to have a close relationship with other established worlds.

OTOH, it could be argued that Talos IV was within the outer boundaries of the United Federation of Planets. It seems many worlds exist in STAR TREK within an inner frontier; in other words, Federation space contains a vast expanse of star systems that are not visited by space vessels even though they could be, probably because there is no alignment established there and no form of trade / reason to go there.

In this thread, two kinds of colonies have been suggested thus far: (1. penal colonies that would be used as a foundation for establishing a living presence on a world, or (2. colonies-for-profit, which would be established to extract natural resources from a world for use elsewhere. The penal colony idea is an interesting one, but let me add another concept or two. Perhaps some colonies start out as a base, like Starbase 11, and evolve from there. This would suggest that Starfleet / the Federation would be the driving force directly behind the establishment of such a facility. Another possibility is that a colony could be started as a remote/forward facility, such as an outpost or science station. Examples of this could include the fort on Cestus III or the observation station on Minara II.

As far as the idea of a colony-for-profit idea goes, it could be argued that mining in the STAR TREK universe is done by high-tech means, heavily involving automation (including mining robots). This would dovetail perfectly with what we saw on Delta Vega and Janus VI, as well as the notion of automated freighters being deployed to pick up materials for shipping (such as the robot ship Woden). The only question in my mind would be how valuable something has to be to go to the trouble of sending people out to establish a colony (or to simply build an unmanned facility) and keep sending robot ships there to "retrieve the goods", be they in raw or refined/processed form. Dilithium and some ship's hull alloys might be that valuable, but unless there's some other commodity that's pretty rare and valuable, I don't see how establishing any facility many light-years away would make any sense. Let's assume, for sake of argument, that an expedition discovers numerous deposits of precious ores that could be used to build advanced space vessel hulls comprised of the coveted diburnium-osmium. In order to make the claiming of the world (or worlds, or world-with-ore-bearing-asteroids) worth anyone's while, why not establish a mining operation and also a ship's hull fabircation facility? If a colonial expedition did this, the colony would establish itself as a source of value-added products, not just raw materials.

Another issue left unspoken would be long-term purpose and longevity. Why are people going to want to live here, on this distant world, far from the motherworld? If the colony simply exists to supply raw materials, or even processed ones, then there's the risk that the long-term standard-of-living on the planet would be compromised by a colony driven by industrial processes. (TNG's "Home Soil") In other words, they chew this world up, spit it out, and move on. Maybe they might do that to an asteroid or uninhabited moon, but if a colony is on a Class M planet with the ability to sustain life, there's something far more valuable there to the inhabitants than just ore or manufactured goods.

In the TNG episode "Justice", Picard explains to the non-corporeal Edo god/aliens that the Strnad colony's terraforming activities were for the purpose of people establishing a new life there. This establishes that distant colonies can be built for the express purpose of people wanting to live and enjoy the surroundings of a new, unspoiled world. Perhaps settlers and terraformers alike serve the colonization desires of people who want to begin a new life in a pristine environment. This would explain the neo-transcendental Bringloidis who were left behind by the S.S. Mariposa in TNG's "Up the Long Ladder".

An issue overlooked in colony-building in STAR TREK is whether a planet is suitable for colonization. Delta Vega was technically considered Class M, but it didn't look like a decent place to live in the long-term. (Indeed; it was described as barren, lifeless and essentially a good place for machines-only.) It's a foregone conclusion that a colony on a habitable planet would not be established until people actually check the place out, verify they can live there, and actually try to live there. That would be one of the earliest and most essential steps.
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Old May 10 2014, 07:33 PM   #17
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Re: how would you build a colony?

All I need is an at least marginally habitable planet, a phaser, a cargo transporter pad, a cargo replicator and a computer with as thorough a database as is available to me to run it, a power supply capable of running a runabout for at least a couple of days, and a small supply of any unreplicatable materials that I might need.

Phaser is charged and at my side. Power supply is set up, cargo replicator is set up, cargo transporter is set up, and I'm certain both are working. The ship that brought me here can now leave.

I tie the replicator into the transporter to draw on real raw materials within range (I've placed my unreplicables within range, of course) to create whatever I request from it.

Next, I ask the computer to bring up the design for the most efficient orbital solar power collection system it has in the database, and I have it feed that design into the replicator. I charge it using the power supply, turn it on, tell the computer to program the orbital component to direct it's power to the planetary component, which I set up a few yards away. And then I use the transporter to put the orbital component into orbit.

Then, I ask the computer to bring up the design for the best shield generator it has in the database, and I have it feed that design into the replicator. I tie my shield generator into the power supply and extend it to cover everything I brought with me, but not the planetary component of the solar power collection system, because that probably wouldn't work.

From this point, I'm going to be using different combinations of what I now have available along with additional equipment I would replicate, exponentially if necessary - pretty much whatever I need, including additional replicators, transporters, and power supplies, plus soil processors, atmospheric control systems like Risa has, etc. I would begin inviting first certain trustworthy family and friends, and assign them different levels of control over the process, and in short order, we would transform the world into what I would consider a well defended paradise with an orbital base or 12 and a small but steadily growing defense fleet in system. From there, we would put out an ad offering unused land parcels to first more distant friends and family, and then to the general public (by interview), and use our equipment to help them transform their parcels into what they want, also.

We would expand out to other worlds, also. And in very short order, my "colony" would rival any of the other known galactic powers.
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Old May 10 2014, 08:11 PM   #18
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Re: how would you build a colony?

I assume we're taking a sleeper ship to an isolated and uninhabited world and reinforcements aren't coming. If at all possible, I sabotage the sleeping chambers of all the other males.
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Old May 11 2014, 08:01 AM   #19
Crazy Eddie
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Wingsley wrote: View Post
As far as the idea of a colony-for-profit idea goes, it could be argued that mining in the STAR TREK universe is done by high-tech means, heavily involving automation (including mining robots). This would dovetail perfectly with what we saw on Delta Vega and Janus VI, as well as the notion of automated freighters being deployed to pick up materials for shipping (such as the robot ship Woden). The only question in my mind would be how valuable something has to be to go to the trouble of sending people out to establish a colony (or to simply build an unmanned facility) and keep sending robot ships there to "retrieve the goods", be they in raw or refined/processed form.
I don't think it's a question of the value of the goods as much as the identity of the person collecting them. A huge and well-financed corporation can afford to setup "franchise" resource-gathering outposts all over the place with rotations of skeleton crews (or no crews at all) and never build anything resembling long-term habitation. A smaller organization with less resources to throw around might have to bootstrap it: they can't afford an army of mining robots and don't have legions of automated freighters to work with, so they have to lease the robots (or the rights to use them) from others, pay the fees to the freight companies, etc. Without the huge capital wealth to do the work for them, they also wouldn't be in a position to profit remotely off the material coming from the work site: they only get paid because they're in the loop.

"Devil in the Dark" would be an example of the small-time outfit and is more likely the rule rather than the exception. I would suspect that the Delta-Vega outpost and others are probably Starfleet operations or produced by similarly massive and well-funded organizations that can afford to build and maintain fleets of automated freighters and space stations. The Janus colonists wouldn't have that option: despite the planet's obvious mineral wealth, they had to make due with manual labor and obsolete technology just to turn a profit.
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Old May 11 2014, 02:09 PM   #20
varek
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Wingsley brings out some important questions: would the colony be profitable? I had been just thinking about expansion onto new soil or perhaps a strategic location. If a planet or moon had valuable minerals or other resources, that would certainly be beneficial, too! And, if its colony could produce a "profit" of some kind--wealth and/or power--its viability would definitely be solidified in Starfleet or the Federation Council's plans.
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Old May 11 2014, 04:21 PM   #21
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Re: how would you build a colony?

TOS introduces several cases in which anybody staking a claim on a certain planet could make immense profit from being a sole-source provider of vital goods. Janus VI is just a generic mine competing with others on non-critical minerals, but whoever gets to mine Capella for topaline controls a major portion of the Federation's "planetoid colony" business (possibly referring to 100% closed-cycle life support systems, rare in the general colony business but necessary on airless planetoids). And Ardana can dictate the price for zenite. Dilithium mining in extremely small scale is profitable, too, according to "Mudd's Women": you just have to mine at the far frontier and sell directly to starships in need. Although this probably puts you at great risk of being robbed!

"Requiem for Methuselah" in turn establishes that it's possible for individuals (let alone corporations) to purchase entire planets. It may be, then, that colonies or enterprises founded on such planets need no "solidification" from Starfleet or the Federation, and in fact fiercely compete with the government.

Now, will the government step in to secure these vital resources? When "Mr. Brack" purchased his planet, did the government know he would be sitting on a pile of ryetalyn? Kirk only found out by scanning the planet, so the answer probably is no. Kirk, who usually has no qualms with throwing his weight around, doesn't quote any regulation allowing him to confiscate the wealth for greater good or military purposes, so I'd assume confiscating the entire world would be legally problematic and unlikely to happen.

I could definitely see all sorts of hopefuls setting out on small spaceships packed with sensors tuned for a vital mineral, perhaps typically setting up a small "colony" on top of the resource they have staked out in order to protect their investment... Fortunes could be made that way.

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Old May 12 2014, 01:42 AM   #22
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Re: how would you build a colony?

^ Actually, Timo, I strongly believe that the scouting of those valuable resources is one of Starfleet's most important jobs, and that it's Starfleet's practice to never place any sort of territorial claim on those planets that is the basis of their mandate as the Federation's primary exploration fleet.

That is, Starfleet does all the exploring, catalogs planets and asteroids and other bodies with valuable resources and publishes that data in the public domain where anyone can look it up if they want; an interested party can then stake a claim to that planet (if they get their first) and Starfleet would be obliged to support that claim once the first homesteaders have registered it through the proper authorities. This would actually be a major selling point for Federation membership overall: not only do you have access to a database of thousands of explored worlds with valuable resources, you also have a guarantee that your colonists will be able to move in and do business there without having to worry about your neighbors rolling in and muscling you out just because they can.

That essential service may be as fundamental to the Federation's cohesion as anything else. Various Federation members can live at peace with one another and with races outside the Federation because they know their offworld space interests will be protected and regulated by Starfleet, who will treat everyone by the same highly consistent and very fair rules.
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Old May 12 2014, 01:57 AM   #23
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Putting aside any given Writers need to create dramatic tension via a deliberate technological glitch/ shortfall:

The TNG ep: 'Lessons', (S06Ep19) encapsulates several pitfalls of apparent Starfleet methodology that I'd seek to compensate for. The Outpost on Bersalis requires evacuation when a local Firestorm phenomena approaches out of schedule and more intense than is normal.

The Colony has neither the shield strength to deflect the storm nor the transport capacity to evacuate the Colony entire. Which seems rather ludicrous given the apparent ease with which small transport vessels are built/ produced within the TNG era, (TNG and Voyager especially 'go through' shuttles like Quark goes through schemes: Frequently and with majestic gusto.) Is Starfleets policy such that its outposts are built to a 'good enough' standard and left to call for local help if the environs spits out an anomalous danger? The Outpost was dedicated to research of a violent, powerful phenomena and yet appeared to lack two fundamental barrier-techs that could have negated the evacuation and crew deaths:

- A Starship grade deflector grid with suitable redundancies. Assuming that deflector tech used by the Colonial Administrations is homogenised and of an average strength, the use of a higher-grade deflector on planets with high chance of environmental instability could be argued to be resource-efficient. Save the Colony from unknown phenomena with powerful, adaptive shields and you save lives/ resources where the Colony would otherwise be levelled.

- Underground Construction. I think it does crop up occasionally, complexes constructed underground but I think it'd be an idea worth exploring in relation to the enormous number of dangers inherent in building nascent Colonies on the fringes of/ beyond Fed-Space. Deploy robot-miners/ constructors to hollow out a decent-sized structure under a mountain or geologically stable area, populate with basic infrastructure Tech and land colonists once the air/ water/ landscape have been analysed for contagions/ dangerous lifeforms/ weird, Redshirt killing plants. Added bonus of benefiting from geothermal energy, a layer of defense from orbital bombardment and, if the 'roof' is sufficiently well-chosen, a natural anti-transporter field to block unwanted intrusions from Mudd/ hungry Klingons.

/Rant aside, what I would love to do with Trek-Tech vis-a-vis a brand new Colony:

- Locate an M-Class World within a politically stable, minimal anomaly locale and select for longevity of natural resource use, resilience of local fauna/ flora to intermixing with alien counterparts and a lack of Iconian anything, just to be sure.

- Dispatch a small fleet of robotic drones to core out an underground seed Colony, build orbital comm-arrays, lay the foundation for sub-surface reactors and hydroponics, basic transportation infrastructure and so on.

- Find a bunch of fellow crazies/ adventurers who wish to leave the eden of Earth/ core Fed Worlds in favour of relative hardship and possible Redshirt incidents, as well as the reward to striking ground on a new World with all of its inherent adventures.

- Derive an Egalitarian Constitution and Core Mission Directive from the Fed policy-book and make it clear to Colonists that devolving into a Medieval state after a few decades will not be happening. Women won't become second-class citizens again, LGBT's will not be persecuted as in ages past, racists/ xenophobes will be fed to the local Wildcats etc, etc. (Trek doesn't always address the idea of a bold Colonial mission statement vs Core Fed beliefs to my satisfaction.)

- Designate a series of Colonial Hubs based upon resource distribution, ease of access to Features of Interest, research opportunities and so on and lightly plan cities around each HUb. Whilst the logically patterned cities of America have an air of efficiency about them, I'm a Belfast boy. Organic growth throws up inefficiencies but also intriguing shapes, lines and ideas that could give each city and community a unique sense of self and identity.

- Arrive, spend the first decade or so living out of the protected Underground Hub until a defense grid spanning the first over-ground city sites/ skeletal foundations is well established. Carefully begin to construct habitats above-ground and pay close attention to giving each citizen plenty of space to live and work in. New Planet, plenty of space- no need to repeat the old mistakes of Earth. I'm looking at you Manhattan/ London...

-Let it grow, become its own entity, thousands into millions, then billions. Hopefully a Colony that will be a jewel of Fed-Space.


This plan assumes two things:

-A socialist Utopia is the underpinning structure of the Federation. Material wealth is not a driving force but rather a byproduct of intelligently plotted exploration and expansion. Access to food, water, education, healthcare and defensive security is not restricted by any criteria beyond whether a Fed citizen is alive and in need of the above or dead and respectfully returned to the Stars.

-Planetary defenses are overhauled beyond what we typically see/ hear of onscreen. A planetary defense shield and ground-batteries would be a good start.

Taking bets now on how long my Utopia will last before it's mauled by the Crystalline Entity or annexed by The Dominion.
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Old May 12 2014, 02:48 PM   #24
Timo
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Starfleet does all the exploring
But how could it do so? What is there to prevent private parties from prospecting, when the potential for profit is so immense?

We have seen private interstellar spacecraft in abundance in all the eras. Characters like Harry Mudd and Cyrano Jones are witnessed hunting for profit. People like Carter Winston in turn roam the galaxy for supposedly more altruistic but perhaps no less businesslike reasons. If weirdos like the Hansens can obtain a survey ship and spend years and fortunes searching for Bigfoot, others can no doubt rent or buy corresponding capabilities for more level-headed pergium prospecting.

Regulating prospecting and regulating colonization would both appear profoundly futile. See e.g. how Starfleet in "Angel One" is hindered from doing anything at all to force the Odin rebels into cooperation. It even appears that the Prime Directive itself protects anybody who has managed to set foot on a world before Starfleet gets there!

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Old May 12 2014, 07:25 PM   #25
Crazy Eddie
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Timo wrote: View Post
Starfleet does all the exploring
But how could it do so? What is there to prevent private parties from prospecting, when the potential for profit is so immense?
Nothing at all. But that's private enterprise, they've always been free to do whatever they want as long as they make sure to leave a flight plan and a copy of their mission parameters with Starfleet so everyone knows where they're going and also that they're not going into a restricted area (I'm lookin at you, Harry Mudd!)

It's just that individual federation members -- Andoria, Vulcan, Tellar, etc -- no longer have sanction under Federation law to conduct expeditionary missions of their own, nor can they stake claims to worlds they discover even if they were to do so through a third party.

Regulating prospecting and regulating colonization would both appear profoundly futile.
No, but it would be difficult enough that Starfleet would pick and choose what kinds of things it decided to regulate. Requiring civilian captains to tell Starfleet where they're going would be a basic safety rule and the kind of thing that only smugglers and pirates would avoid doing, so if you encounter a ship that isn't where it's supposed to be or is in an area where no ships are supposed to be, he's either in trouble or he's up to no good.

Likewise, restricting certain areas of space for all but authorized vehicles would be a good way of cracking down on certain types of illegal activity since only people with a legitimate reason to be there would bother getting authorization (Ahhhh... Mutara restricted! Take permits many! Money more!) That would also answer a question that has haunted Trek fandom for almost 50 years now: are civilian vessels allowed to cross the Romulan Neutral Zone? From Starfleet's side, the answer is probably not: you'd need some kind of extra special permit to do so and would have to pass all kinds of security checks to make sure you're not planning to defect or carry Romulan spies across the border. The same is probably true on the Romulan side, except they're more likely to give you a permit in the first place if you're WILLING to carry their spies across the border.

See e.g. how Starfleet in "Angel One" is hindered from doing anything at all to force the Odin rebels into cooperation. It even appears that the Prime Directive itself protects anybody who has managed to set foot on a world before Starfleet gets there!
Actually, I'm pretty sure the issue with Angel One is that the Odin survivors were under foreign jurisdiction and Starfleet didn't have any legal grounds to do anything about them. They may have been trespassing on Angel One, but that's a matter for the LOCALS to deal with because it's their territory; Starfleet can deal with trespassers on Federation territory with the same impunity.
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Old May 12 2014, 07:34 PM   #26
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Re: how would you build a colony?

AthanisTree wrote: View Post
This plan assumes two things:

-A socialist Utopia is the underpinning structure of the Federation.
I'm 99% sure that it is not. It is certainly the underpinning structure of EARTH, but to say it is true of the Entire Federation is definitely a stretch.

-Planetary defenses are overhauled beyond what we typically see/ hear of onscreen. A planetary defense shield and ground-batteries would be a good start.
This is pretty much a given, except I doubt that a shield exists powerful enough to cover the entire planet. Probably just local generators big enough to cover a town or a city, or in a really big city, to cover individual districts of it. Ground batteries are also a given, but there's some question as to what they would fire and what their maximum range is. My guess is that photon torpedoes don't actually require a huge and sophisticated launch platform and that you could probably launch them right out of their shipping crates from the back of a pickup truck.

Then again, if you don't work for Starfleet they're probably expensive as hell. Your colonial militia might only have a dozen of them in their entire arsenal and would otherwise have to make due with phaser emplacements. Those would also be very expensive, and possibly a much greater hardware requirement and might not be ideal if you're not expecting serious trouble from your neighbors.

Taking bets now on how long my Utopia will last before it's mauled by the Crystalline Entity or annexed by The Dominion.
That's a tad optimistic, don't you think? You're just as likely to get rolled by the Talarians or the Ferengi.
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Old May 13 2014, 12:55 PM   #27
Timo
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Defending a colony against space invaders seems a bit futile, because the invader could always scale his forces to meet the demand, while the colony doesn't have that option. What a defensive phaser bank can do is deter random vagrants - but random pirates would know very well what sort of defenses the various colonies can afford, and make their own profit calculations based on that.

Decisive-strength defenses are probably indeed expensive and excessive for most planets. Yet defenses that merely delay the enemy until Starfleet arrives require Starfleet to arrive, which probably won't happen. The distances are too vast, the enemy can jam calls for help, and the odds of a starship being nearby by chance are too low. So the risks of settling increase at double time when one moves away from the UFP core: Starfleet response time increases, and the size and "establishedness" of your planet (and hence its ability to support strong fortifications) decreases. It takes something special to create an exception, say, your colony having key resources, or being close to a preexisting hot spot.

One important thing about government control in Trek is the precedent of space being so vast. If it takes a year for anybody to check why a colony of millions has gone absolutely silent ("Operation: Annihilate!"), the odds of a patrol ship intercepting a smuggler or a squatter must be zero in practice.

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Old May 13 2014, 05:17 PM   #28
Crazy Eddie
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Timo wrote: View Post
Defending a colony against space invaders seems a bit futile, because the invader could always scale his forces to meet the demand, while the colony doesn't have that option. What a defensive phaser bank can do is deter random vagrants - but random pirates would know very well what sort of defenses the various colonies can afford, and make their own profit calculations based on that.
That's been the state of fixed fortifications since the stone age. If your colony isn't valuable enough to warrant the full attention of the Husnok Galactic Murder Horde, your defenses should be scaled to mitigate the kind of risks you're likely to draw with the resources you have.
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Old May 13 2014, 10:11 PM   #29
Timo
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Re: how would you build a colony?

And the nature of likely resources or other lures and likely risks is decisive in determining whether a balance is possible at all. In Trek, it may be that all incentives for pillage are distressingly lucrative and all defenses lamentably weak, and there's no way to purchase the sort of defense that would match the threat and the risk, for any value of the variables.

Say, today one would imagine that air defense systems could be purchased to match the risk of an air attack. Alas, it takes too little effort for a moderately sized air force to divert its assets against something as insignificant as a single temporary bridge or a truck convoy or a bivouac, and too much effort to stop those assets from completing their mission; guns or shoulder SAMs (or MANPADS, as the modern jargonists would insist) aren't good enough, and heavier systems aren't available enough. Unless we're talking about a third world air force that gets cold feet at the chance of having the paint scratched on one of its dozen working jets - but in the Trek analogy, great powers are just as likely to harass your little settlement as third world players, and they can afford to lose some assets to your defenses and use that as an excuse to strike harder. This no matter how much you escalate.

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Old May 14 2014, 06:34 PM   #30
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Re: how would you build a colony?

Timo wrote: View Post
And the nature of likely resources or other lures and likely risks is decisive in determining whether a balance is possible at all. In Trek, it may be that all incentives for pillage are distressingly lucrative and all defenses lamentably weak...
But it isn't. The settlement in "Marauders" was able to defend itself with a hastily-formed militia and rudimentary weapons; if they'd had any sort of planetary defense weapon and formal military training, the Klingons would have left them alone. It's really specific to the case that the Klingon Marauders were only picking on them in the first place BECAUSE they were defenseless.

A similar example is the Federation science outpost Baran was about to attack in "Gambit" before the enterprise showed up. The outpost had minimal defenses, probably meant to deter petty criminals and thieves, and wouldn't have been up to the treat posed by Baran's pirate ship. If that outpost had been guarding something more valuable, it's a foregone conclusion its weapons would have been upgraded.

Probably the archetypical example is that of Deep Space Nine. When it was just an old ore processing station over Bajor, it was armed with six photon torpedoes and a phaser bank that didn't quite work correctly. When it became the gatekeeper of the entire Gamma Quadrant (and with the heightened threat posed by the Dominion), Starfleet added "about fifty photon torpedoes" to bolster its defenses, and half a year later upgraded it with a whole arsenal of phaser and torpedo defenses strong enough to hold back an entire fleet.

Even at its weakest, Deep Space Nine was not the kind of place that could be attacked by petty pirates except in extraordinary circumstances (E.G. "Dax"). Otherwise, it would take a major military force, and as DS9's defenses grew in strength, so did the size of the military force needed to take it down.

Say, today one would imagine that air defense systems could be purchased to match the risk of an air attack. Alas, it takes too little effort for a moderately sized air force to divert its assets against something as insignificant as a single temporary bridge or a truck convoy or a bivouac, and too much effort to stop those assets from completing their mission
Says the Tom Clancy fans of the world. The truth is, anti-air defenses have become sophisticated enough in the modern age that SUPPRESSION of air defenses is an entire strike mission all its own, and attacks against valued assets cannot even begin until those defenses have been neutralized.

OTOH, cheapo air defenses like AA guns and manpad missiles are more than enough to suppress your local guerilla terrorist organization that comes at you with a forty-year-old Huey or Cessna with a machinegun strapped to its wings. That wouldn't necessarily be enough to stand up to a world-class military... but then, if you're going to try and start the kind of colony that would attract that kind of attention, you had better pack the kind of defenses needed to DEAL with that kind of attention.

but in the Trek analogy, great powers are just as likely to harass your little settlement as third world players
Which, again, is one of the benefits of Federation membership. While occasional raids from pirates and thieves are hard to predict, fleet actions by the major players -- the Romulans, the Klingons, the Breen, the Cardassians -- rarely slip beneath Starfleet's radar and they spend a significant amount of time and effort responding to that sort of bad behavior by the Federation's neighbors.

At the same time, if you're running a colony in a disputed system or in a region of space very close to a Federation rival, having adequate defenses in case of sudden hostilities makes sense. That, too, is something Starfleet usually helps with.
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