- transitioning to an ever expanding settlement -


As explained in the What is Settlement page, space settlement begins when the first people sell their homes on Earth, move off Earth, and stay indefinitely in their new, off-Earth homes. Given the risk of crew dying during crew rotations, it make sense that even the Initial Crew at a permanent base should stay there as long as their biomedical indicators allow (i.e. "indefinitely"). So, the very first, Initial Crew could be the first settlers. They would be the first of many more settlers to arrive later. So, how soon could this happen?

Both the Starship and NASA's Artemis program are scheduled to land crew on the Moon starting around 2024 or there abouts. It would seem prudent in both those cases to have uncrewed, cargo landings first. If that cargo were to be an inflatable habitat then the Initial Crew could remain indefinitely and hence be the beginning of settlement.

Yet, there will be a phase in which those with the deepest pockets (i.e. governments) will take the early, more expensive tickets. As those countries send their national astronauts to the Moon, they will have a decision to make. Should they bring their hero astronauts back to meet with and inspire the young people of the country or should they remain behind on the Moon to represent the nation in a growing, international settlement? For those countries who could afford two or more seats on a mission of lunar exploration, the answer is simple -- bring some back and leave some there. In that case, this growing, permanent, international base will be a settlement in its own right.

As the flight rate goes up and the economies of scale brings down the per-seat ticket prices, private settlers could soon follow. The international lunar settlement would grow to include private individuals some of whom wouldn't know the common language(s) such as English. As this happens, logically, language-specific sections of the international base would start becoming a "Little China" or a "Little India" or a whatnot.

There is not just one type of settlement. For example, some say that only when children are being born does a base become a settlement. But there are more than just one type of settlement. In particular, prior to the artificial gravity prescription for healthy pregnancy and childhood is found, settlements could be largely composed of those individuals who are not childbearing and who don't have dependent children. Retirees are an example of a type of settler who moves off Earth yet don't have children. There could be a variety of reasons for settlement including: nationalism, religion, and political philosophy. If some people were to figure out how to mine minerals for a profit then a for-profit settlement (e.g. a company town) might develop somewhere. Finally, in terms of Earth independence, settlement can be divided into general settlements and colonies following the Survival Colony concept.

Settlement, starting in the form of a few couples moving off Earth indefinitely, could become a reality before 2030.

Next: Retirement