how would you build a colony?

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

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ 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.
     
  3. AthanisTree

    AthanisTree Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    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. :devil:
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    That's a tad optimistic, don't you think? You're just as likely to get rolled by the Talarians or the Ferengi.:evil:
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  11. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    A smart raider would try to have one or two of its party infiltrate the colony, to keep them advised of any developments and to disable any defensive systems at the moment of assault.
    Defense could be a problem, without sufficient Starfleet support.
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ And only in the world of comic books and Star Trek episodes is "infiltrate the colony to disable its defenses" even half as easy as it sounds.
     
  13. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, obviously, a professional network of raiders would have their spies in many locations and investigate any interesting--and potentially profitable--leads they heard about. Then, they could gradually infiltrate whatever organization they thought would be most productive and unnoticeably move into positions within those organizations that would give them access (preferably indirectly) to whatever files or switches they needed to access.

    One UFO-researching organization was allegedly taken over by nonbelievers who simply flooded that organization, took over the elections and controls, then were able to direct the meetings, website, etc., the way they wanted it to go--away from researching UFO reports. At least, that's the way some people described those events.

    Also, I recently read that there were some suspicions that the German scientists allegedly "captured" by various nations at the end of World War II continued to perform their own, secret agenda, rather than assist the nations in which they were living. (That is, they may have done what the host-nation wanted, but also did their own activities.)

    My infiltration-strategy mentioned above would be subtler and, presumably, draw no attention to its activities.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  14. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    If we could collect enough helium-3, known as "extraterrestrial helium," we could use fusion energy for our colonies. Rich sources in our solar system include the Moon and Jupiter's atmosphere.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3

    There are probably many other sources out there, waiting for us to exploit them.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the Star Trek universe, they use the Deuterium-Deuterium or Deuterium-Tritium fuel cycle; they would consider Helium-3 to be more of a novelty than a real solution.

    In the real world, there has been no significant development in the Helium-3 fuel cycle other than a prediction by theoretical physicists that it would be easier to do than D-D or D-T, and thus it is constantly being mentioned by space exploration enthusiasts looking for a McGuffin to justify modern colonization.
     
  16. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Interesting discussion, but I still scratch my head about what makes deep-space commerce "profitable" or desirable. I can understand if some uber-valuable resource is only found on certain worlds/asteroids, like dilithium. But just general ores, and other substances? Doesn't make sense to me.

    We know that dilithium is needed for power and starship propulsion. We know it is very rare. This, therefore, makes it extremely valuable. So wherever you find it, it is time to mine it and sell it.

    But such a valuable commodity could also pose a security risk. Remember this exchange between miner Childress and Captain Kirk in "Mudd's Women":

    So it is logical to consider that even profitable mining and/or manufacturing colonies would need help and protection in the STAR TREK Universe.

    The thing that gets me is that there has to be a sustainable infrastructure of space vessels (not just robot cargo ships, but also "starship protection") in order to make trade worthwhile and secure. That means not only do you have to pay for expeditions (the building of ships, trained astronauts, trained colony specialists, equipment, supplies, maintenance/repairs, etc.) but you also have to pay for "starship protection" even once the colony has established itself. All of this sounds very, very expensive to build and maintain.

    I'm not saying it never makes sense in TREK; just that it's not the only way.

    What if some colonies start out as penal colonies or planetary starbases, or even as research colonies? If these kinds of settlements evolve into "worlds", where people choose to settle because they want to live on "strange new worlds" that are unspoiled, that would tie in with what Picard was saying in "Justice".
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We could argue that star travel simply isn't particularly expensive in the Trek universe: building a warpship may take resources, but operating it could be dirt cheap, with fuel costs approaching zero (hydrogen is everywhere, the Federation turns some of it into antimatter using some kind of free energy such as sunlight, and it is in the Federation's interests to sell the antimatter at very low cost to promote trade).

    Similarly, Kirk may be exaggerating the costs of operating a frontier colony. It is only at the extreme fringes that you need support and protection, because the Trek galaxy is so full of worlds that already provide for your every need that even potential pirates just plain don't bother with attacking a colony for its resources; they can get those more easily and cheaply from a world without a colony. (Indeed, we hear of criminal raids on colonies only about as often as we hear of criminals setting up a colony to run a slave mine or the like!)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What, exactly, makes them profitable in MODERN times?

    I think that spaceflight and space exploration have become cheap enough to be comparable to their terrestrial counterparts by that point, so similar economics apply. You're going to have miners extracting gold, iron, silver, platinum, latinum, copper, anything else that can't be easily replicated.

    Which, again, is already the case in modern maritime considerations. I don't see it being that much more expensive in the Star Trek universe than that, especially since the payoff is potentially much greater.
     
  19. varek

    varek Commander Red Shirt

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    Although you could purchase commodities and raw materials from various traders, you would always be subject to their prices and their trading limitations. If you obtained these items through your own colony, then you possess them and control their availability. If you have more than you need or wish to keep in reserve, then you can trade it and make a profit.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, nothing makes it profitable to haul ore in modern times. Which is why nobody does it, not over oceanic distances. (It's only hauled a very short distance to a refinery where it ceases to be ore and becomes, say, iron.)

    This is among the most interesting aspects of TOS space trade: the explicit references to ore being moved from star to star. Unless, say, the "automated ore transports" visiting the Delta Vega lithium cracking plant were moving ore from the other planets of the same system (or even from other spots on the surface of that world - perhaps they were crawlers or airships rather than spaceships?) to be refined in the lithium cracking process?

    But all the colonies are virtual Second Earths, as far as we can tell. Why would anybody buy anything from another colony? Unless it were something so exotic that only very few would even find a use for it, and then it would require quite a bit of skill to make a business case of it.

    OTOH, we know from TNG that there are "agricultural worlds" or "farming planets" that supposedly exist to feed other worlds. ST2:TWoK in turn hints at interstellar problems of food shortage, and at the creation of arable land next to those in need being the solution, again suggesting that dedicated farming worlds at the other ends of trade routes are the default solution. If it's practical to haul grain (and not just seed samples for supergrain, as we could argue is the case in "Trouble with Tribbles" and "More Tribbles"), then it must be practical to haul just about anything, including pretty pebbles.

    Timo Saloniemi