- establishing humanity's first, permanent foothold off Earth -

When one thinks about "space settlement" one often thinks of something like this:

Here you've got a huge, well-developed base with advanced transportation systems. You've also got families with children and whatnot. One figures that, in order to fund something this large then that would be impossible unless one figures out some sort of "unobtanium" that could be profitably mined and shipped back to Earth. And, with space settlement needing to be this large, it's something that we don't need to worry about. This could only happen far down in the future if ever.

But the actual definition of "settlement" is this:

    A place, typically one that has hitherto been uninhabited, where people establish a community.
There's no requirement for children and there's no specification of the minimum necessary size. So, what exactly does "space settlement" mean?

At its core, settlement means "to settle down". And what does that mean? It means to establish one's home. It is not a transient place that one lives at but one's home for an indefinite period of time. Yes, one may move...but then one may not. Bases in Antarctica is well established, but no one sells there home and moves to Antarctica. Rather, that is a base and people and their families remain back at home.

"Settling down" is also often used to refer to starting a family. For example, someone might date around and not commit. But, when they have found "the right one", tie the knot, and establish a family, they are often described as having "settled down".

But what is a family? Yes, families can include children but they don't necessarily have to have children. Couples who are married but have no children are still a family. Retired couples whose children have "flown the coup" are still a family. And if those retired couples move to a retirement community that community can grow even though no one is having children. To say that a large retirement community with many homes, community activities, and whatnot is not a "settlement" because they don't have children is just not being reasonable.

Here is an image of Sun City, by Phoenix, AZ. There are no children here but there are stores and community activities. If a community of this size existed on the Moon or Mars, it would clearly be considered to be a true space settlement.

But space settlement forever without children is not really an acceptable long-term goal either. We want space settlements to encompass the entirety of the human social possibilities. But, until we conduct the animal studies to determine how to safely have pregnancy and childhood, then the first private settlers may well include a disproportionate number wealthy retiree couples who have had enough time to save up money and are freed from childrearing and occupational responsibilities.

So, these pages propose that actual space settlement could start with as little as a few couples who move off Earth for an indefinite period of time and that this humble start be the beginning of an increasingly large community.

To be historically significant, an initial, small settlement has to go on to become a large, sustained settlement. Roanoak Island is an historic footnote because the little colony there didn't survive or go on to play a significant historic role. The history of the founding of Plymouth Colony on the other hand is celebrated each year in America during Thanksgiving. The difference is that the later went on to be part of something much bigger.

These pages describe how an initial crew of four couples could be the small, tentative, initial settlement. But that scenario won't become historically significant unless the population there grows in an increasing manner. The Plan describes an immediate follow-on phase to the initial four couples with a phase of international, suborbital, lunar exploration. This would provide the revenue to the participating companies and the flight rate to bring down the costs to the point where wealthy individuals might be able to move and settle down on the Moon. With mastering the development of even more in situ resources beyond water, the amount of material needing to be shipped from Earth would become increasingly less thereby reducing the cost to sustain the settlement.

Settlement can start with as little as a few couples settling down off Earth for an indefinite period of time.

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