how would you build a colony?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by varek, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    If you were going to establish a colony on another world, how would you do it?
    I've read modest estimates of between 150 up to 80,000 colonists sent at one time, to establish it.
    About 1,000 adult colonists should be enough to begin building the colony, I think.
    You could establish a central base, then extend 4 outposts (one toward each cardinal direction) toward the horizon, keeping in sight of the central hub and the two adjacent outposts, if possible. (Some terrain features might interpose.)
    Then, as colonists are born and new colonists arrive, you could expand outwardly from that hub.
    What do you think?
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I'd assume the colony would be founded on a "worthwhile" planet, in order to exploit its resources, rather than a homogeneously hostile environment simply for the sake of planting a flag. In that case, colonists would probably land on the plots they want to exploit, all over the globe, and start establishing their industries on the terms of said industries. If the factory required 80,000 workers, that's what they'd ship in ASAP. If it required 18, that's what would suffice, and the families would move in at their leisure once trade to and from the planet got going.

    Colony size and population characteristics would not be chosen according to dangers of inbreeding or the like. There'd be no danger of such in the Star Trek environment: marriages across the interstellar gulf would be simple enough, thanks to warp drive. And in some other scifi environment or our real future, I'd assume biological trivialities would be well under control long before we started settling the stars: the colonies might consist of a single family a million cloned grandchildren in size, or totally incompatible individuals who keep their biological shortcomings and psychopathology under control by popping pills of suitable color.

    Also, there would be a lot of diversity, as the most eager colonists would come from the ranks of literal lunatics, people with the oddest ideas of how to run a semi-isolated community. If there were unifying factors, those would come from basic logistics: in Trek, colony ships might be of certain size and price, promoting the founding of those ubiquitous tiny farming villages, say.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. bbjeg

    bbjeg Admiral Admiral

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    I'd choose a lush planet like Bajor. The buildings will be reminiscent of Roman buildings but inside will be decked out with the newest technology. The middle will have a large town center and districts will circle out with the more important buildings near the center (security posts, hospitals, etc.). Four main roads will lead from the town center connecting the circled roads throughout the settlement and separating the 4 outer districts; the residential area; the market district, selling all sorts of items found throughout the galaxy as well replicated foods and an arboretum for fresh foods; a science district containing colleges and a star port containing multiple personal-use shuttles; and a theater district containing multiple personal use holodecks and a large, "multi-player" holosuite featuring large scale events (from historic battles, to sci-fi and fantasy as well) and it will be designed to hold hundreds of people at a time.

    The planet will be named Voluptas.
     
  4. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    Assuming a suitable planet, land three or four Galaxy class style saucer sections on the surface: Colony in a box. Power, replicators, habitats, and medical facitilies all in one package. Then have the saucer be the community center as the colony expands outward.
     
  5. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    TOS, and, indeed, the entire TREK franchise, is pretty vague and contradictory on how colonization works. We see little settlements that seem very small, maybe only in the dozens or less ("This Side of Paradise", "And the Children Shall Lead"). And we see and hear of highly developed colonies like Mariposa (TNG's "Up the Long Ladder") that have large cities but nothing really in-between.

    It seems to me that the tiny-settlement kind would have to be advanced scouting expeditions, where only the first small batch of people arrive to check the place out and see if the survey expeditions/probes were right. These people are the "guinea pigs" sent there to "try it out."

    The next step would likely be the Cestus III stage, where a more-developed community is established. More like a fort.

    But then we hear about (seldom see) more developed colonies like Mariposa, which become cities and wind up turning the "colony" into a settled "world". We can assume Benecia, New Paris, and maybe others like Sherman's Planet are like this. Apparently, not all colonies "make it"; some fall victim to failures like Tarsus IV ("The Conscience of the King") or Arvada III (TNG's "The Arsenal of Freedom") or Tau Cygna V ("The Ensigns of Command").

    There are also apparently different kinds of colonies. Some are general-purpose habitation settlements. Others, like Tantalus V ("Dagger of the Mind") are dedicated facilities that serve the Federation for a specific purpose. Judging how Kirk and company use force in such situations, it would seem the service-colonies exist at the Federation's pleasure and Starfleet is used to keep them in line. This would mean such service-colonies must be exempt from the Prime Directive. Judging from how other sometimes get left alone or even forgotten, it is possible that those colonies that declare themselves autonomous may be protected under the Prime Directive. (Just don't tell that to Will Riker.)

    As for how those colonies become developed, that has been left very vague. I would like to think (no canon evidence one way of the other) that during a "settlement phase", the colonies are still dependent on some mother-world like Earth for importation of volunteers to populate the new planet, and possibly for supplies and other assistance. I like the idea of freighters like the SS Woden delivering personnel and supplies to colonies (like a kind of "mail train" to the stars) and then stopping off at a nearby asteroid if any rare, uber-precious materials like Dilithium are discovered there, to retrieve them for the return trip. This would help the colony "pay for itself". I also like to think these freighters can carry "kit" modules of prefab facilities (space stations, robot satellites, mining stations, factories, etc.) that can be delivered and used to help establish a colony. (Maybe this is how Delta Vega and Tantalus V came to be.)
     
  6. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    The o.p. did not suggest a specific time-frame, IIRC. This would be an interesting 24th-century scenario.

    Neat idea. It would require the sacrifice of an entire Galaxy-class saucer section for each mission it is implemented on. It would also require a new saucer be constructed to replace the one sacrificed. That could be pretty costly, and may be seen as a waste.

    There are alternatives...

    The Galaxy-class vehicle would leave its normal-operations saucer section docked at a starbase/home port. In its place, the stardrive section would connect with a prefab "colony module" saucer, built more for landing on a planet than long-term space travel. (less-capable propulsion, little or no armament, internal equipment geared for short-term spaceflight followed by long-term planetfall/use as a "city". So this scenario would play out like this:

    1: Colonization project administrator would arrive at Starbase X, and begin a new project organizing and building a "pseudo-saucer". Once the components and personnel are assembled and the "colonization module" is complete, Starfleet is notified and a Galaxy-class starship is called in for the mission.

    2: The U.S.S. Galaxy arrives at Starbase X and jettisons its saucer section in high orbit. The saucer will be manned by starbase crews and renovated/maintained if necessary. The U.S.S. Galaxy's stardrive section is connected to the completed colonization module, fully manned and provisioned for the mission. The Galaxy departs for the colony planet.

    3: The U.S.S. Galaxy arrives at the colony planet, jettisons the colonization module in orbit. If site-preparation is necessary at the landing site, the Galaxy renders whatever assistance is needed. The Galaxy stays in orbit until the colonization module lands safely on the planet. Once the colonization module is secure on the surface, the Galaxy returns to Starbase X.

    4: The U.S.S. Galaxy either arrives at Starbase X to retrieve its regular saucer section, or to secure another colonization module for dispatch.

    The above scenario would probably work for earlier Ambassador-class 24th century starships, and maybe even the earlier Excelsior-class.

    It still seems a bit of a waste, though. Why tie up a front-line starship for colonization duties, or keep building expendable saucer modules all the time? It would seem a better and more effective use of resources to use lesser "freighter" style space vessels with detachable cargo modules (like the SS Woden) to establish repeated importation of dedicated colonization modules (one could be a space station, another could be a city-building module, another could be a mining module, and other modules could be dedicated to hauling in people and supplies) over a period of time.

    Think of the process used by the Allies from the Normandy Invasion of June, 1944 through the Allied Expeditionary Force's entering of Germany. It was a detailed and methodical process, not just of engaging Nazi forces in combat, but of establishing camps and bases, securing bridges across rivers, securing towns, establishing communications, supply lines, field hospitals and command centers, etc.

    A colonization effort would be somewhat similar to a military beachhead and invasion/expeditionary force, but without the combat or heavy militarism. It wouldn't be just one ship / just one occurrence. It would be a process that would take place over time.

    One notion never mentioned by anyone would be where the raw materials for building colonial settlements would come from. If you're going to settle an uninhabited wilderness on a strange Class M planet, where are you going to get your materials from to build your cities, homes, industry, and possibly even future spaceships? I don't see the Federation or the Earth depicted in TREK condoning destructive practices that would harm a pristine colony-planet; that would defeat the purpose of settling a new world in the first place.

    So, what would the Federation do? They would identify nearby moons and asteroids for whatever useful raw materials could be used, mine-out those materials, and then use robot ships to bring them to the colony/space station for processing before they are used on the surface. Don't laugh: what did Zephrem Cochrane do to build a home? He cannibalized his spaceship.
     
  7. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    As far as the freighter/transport concept goes, there are a couple of other threads that readers of this thread might want to check out.

    "Freighters and Cargoships", started by Lt.Juliet in Feb. 2014.

    "Warptugs and cargo pods" started by me in July, 2008.

    The thread I started might be most germane to this thread's topic.
     
  8. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    I like your ideas, bbjeg.
    Using parts of Galaxy-class ships could expedite the housing and lab situation, too. I hadn't thought of that.
     
  9. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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  10. Lord Manitou

    Lord Manitou Commander Red Shirt

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    This theme was tackled rather extensively by Robert Heinlein in 'Time Enough for Love'. This book are his dealings with the Howard Family.
    After acouple millenia six or seven planets were colonized fully. The first colonists had to be healthier and smarter than the average individual. The colonized planets were near earth-like in gravity, atmosphere, and terrain. Only one or two planets could escape the 'Old West' type of sub-culture.
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe the colonies would start as penal colonies.

    After the basic infrastructure was set up (power, water, food, transportation) the prisoners would be moved to the next raw world and the colonists would begin arriving.

    :)
     
  12. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    Thank you, T'Girl! That is a great article!

    I had originally intended this to be a present-day (near-future) colonization plan, but looking at great ideas from the future certainly give you plenty of options and possibilities to consider.
     
  13. vulcan redshirt

    vulcan redshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    To fully get to the bottom of this, we need to work out which era we are considering, as the tech would be somewhat different between the eras. Setting up new colonies post TNG would probably be as simple as beaming down an energy source and a couple of industrial replicators and an automated transporter system. Come back in a few months with the colonists and the whole town is set up and waiting for occupants.
     
  14. bbjeg

    bbjeg Admiral Admiral

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    ^My time period would be TNG.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Presumably I already have a planet in mind for colonization. It's a planet that has certain natural resources that I think could be profitable, and I want to be able to exploit those resources. I cannot do it alone, and I also know that others will want to get in on this. So my very first step is to create a nonprofit organization (let's call it "The Gloria Corporation," named after my grandmother, who discovered the planet 60 years ago when she used to work for Starfleet).

    Me and the rest of my family sit down and put together a business proposal and start looking for people willing to invest in a colony on the planet Gloria. Mostly we're looking for financial support, but in the mean time we're also looking for applications from prospective colonists. Depending on the number of potential applicants we may or may not be screening people for their psychological profiles, fitness, sanity, moral values, criminal history, and overall mental health.

    If we do things right, we'll get enough applicants and enough funding to charter a spacecraft that can move a finite number of people and materials to the planet in question. Ideally, we would want the spacecraft crew to be part of the colony, so we would be looking for someone who doesn't have a lot of local attachments and might enjoy some time on the frontier. We would find some way to make it worth his while (he's gonna have a really nice contract), and compensate him for all of his expenses in the initial setup and possibly the first year or two until the colony is functional.

    The people we bring to Gloria will have to be specialists in whatever it is that makes the planet profitable. If, for example, we colonize Gloria because it has huge untapped Pergium deposits, we're going to need miners, engineers and physicists. On the other hand, a planet whose primary export is wild rokeg is probably going to need a lot of farmers, chemists, and somebody who speaks Klingon (actual Klingons would be preferred).

    In this example, the ship we chartered for the mission is the SSV Futility, an old freighter commanded by an ex-maquis named Alfred Reynolds who's looking to put the DMZ behind him and start a new life. Futility arrives in orbit of Gloria and we land teams on the surface to evaluate sites for our primary town. We want a place that has access to food and water and with terrain that makes landing and beaming relatively easy. We also want a region of the planet relatively free of large predators or severe weather, and we don't want to be parked in the middle of an earthquake zone. Once we've determined a suitable town site, we also move out and establish secondary sites across the surface of the planet, places where nobody would really live but where workers and/or robots could still do meaningful work (half hour commute by shuttlecraft).

    Our chief export from this planet is Trellium-D. It isn't especially valuable, but it's easy to extract which means our operating costs are low; also, it fetches a pretty good price on the black market (inner-city Romulans get hooked on this stuff) and Captain Reynolds knows a guy who knows a guy who can get it past the neutral zone. Our secondary exports include pergium and platinum, both of which can be mined from Gloria's second moon by EVA workers; Captain Reynolds helps us setup a transporter relay so workers can beam back and forth to and from the moon from Gloria City (until it's up and running, Futility's shuttles do twice-daily commuter runs).

    For particulars:

    To ESTABLISH it? That would depend entirely on what the colony is being created to DO. A mining colony would probably start with a few hundred at most, a farming colony might start with a thousand just because of the huge amount of land that has to be cultivated to make it profitable at all. If you're going out there with the intention of building a shipyard for spacecraft heading out to more interesting destinations (harbor town) then you're going to need a huge number of dock workers to manage those ships, plus the construction workers to help build the actual dock, plus the families of both workers, plus shopkeepers and service providers to support those families; that's a starting investment of 3000 to 5000 people, in which case you are almost certainly going to need Starfleet backing from the get-go.

    Theoretically, you could start a colony with as few as fifty. A "colony," after all, is just settlement outside of someone's established borders. Provided the town has the resources it needs to sustain itself, all it really needs is a place for workers to live, a place to eat, a place to work, and a place to argue when they disagree with each other. For most colonies, the local bar would probably double as a town hall and main restaurant.

    Or you could build a bunch of houses on the top of a hill and dig a parking lot for shuttlecraft right next to them. Build what you need when you need it, and not a moment sooner.

    More likely, they'd be homesteading: find a parcel of land that appeals to you and build a house on it.
     
  16. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  17. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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. :cool:
     
  18. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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. :devil:
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  20. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    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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