The Colonies, 2084

I lovingly crafted this reverie as a tribute to each of the authors who contributed to this book, Living in Space: Cultural and Social Dynamics, Opportunities and Challenges in Permanent Space Habitats.  In this science fiction story, I incorporated something from every chapter in this book.  I also paid tribute to our first ATWG sponsored book, Beyond Earth: The Future of Humans in SpaceIn this chapter I offer the reader sex in the form of sex and reproduction, drugs in the form of pharmaceuticals and wine, and rock and roll in the form of music in Space.

– Dr. Sherry Bell
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    From:  Dr. Sherry Bell,

    Administrator of the Mars Colony

    To:  Interested parties

    What:  Report on the Colonies

    When:  November 26, 2084

    Where:  This message originates from the Headquarters on the Mars Colony

    How:  This message is being transmitted via Meta-web

    Why:  In response to your requests

HOW THE COLONIES CAME TO BE

In 2025, astronomers on Earth discovered a comet, named Comet ME-2037, which was on a collision course with Earth.  Were the comet to hit the Earth, mass extinctions would be the result and human life as we know it, would likely vanish.  In an unprecedented global cooperative effort, all the resources of the world were pooled into one common effort – the survival of Humans.

In 2015, the United States of America had established a Space Commerce Agency (See Hsu and Cox, Chapter 15).  Its purpose was to oversee all of the nation’s commercial space activities such as tourism as well as the exploration efforts conducted primarily by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  After comet ME-2037 was discovered, the Space Commerce Agency became the busiest agency in the world.

In the hopes that one would prove to be the lifeboat on which humankind could pin its hopes, dreams, and even its future, a number of strategies were implemented.  The people of Earth decided to rapidly construct a variety of colonies.  Although no permanent colonies in Space had yet been established, the technology was available to build them.  Colonies were established on the Moon and on Mars.  Space elevators from the surface of each of these were constructed.  Orbiting Stations were built and placed in the orbits of both the Moon and Mars.  Four Tachyon Spacefaring ships were constructed and launched.

Building an anti-matter vessel was considered; however, the cost was too high.  All of the Earth’s economic resources would have had to be spent on one project.  No other projects could have been considered.

Because we were trying to get as many of us as we could off of the surface of Earth within a constrained time-frame; we chose not to put “all our eggs into one basket.”  We constructed small capsules containing a representation of the DNA of all Earth’s bio-organisms, including Humans, and sent them out into Space in all directions.

By the year 2035, all of these projects were completed.  In fact, one of the Tachyon ships that had been launched in 2033 returned to Earth six months later.  They had not made contact with any alien life during the six months they were gone.  Well that is what we thought at first.  Quite soon it became apparent E.T. life had returned with them in the form of microorganisms (See Bell, Chapter 13).

In the year 2034, it looked like big comet ME-2037 was not going to be the thing that wiped out humankind; instead it would be small virulent microorganisms.  Fortunately scientists found a way to eradicate the disease caused by these deadly little critters that had been brought back – but only after more than 525 million people had died.

Another of the ships made contact with alien intelligence.  They sent a message back to Earth which read, “Contact has been made.  The quintessence of reality is the melding of perception, context, and the ineffable.”  (See Hannon, Chapter 18, paraphrased).  We received the message; however the ship did not return and we have not heard from them again.

The valiant efforts to deflect the Comet ME-2037 resulted in it breaking into a dozen large pieces and countless smaller ones.  Nine of the large pieces impacted with Earth in 2037.  Much of the life on the planet was destroyed; however a few Humans in isolated pockets survived.

THE COLONIES TODAY

Having sex is encouraged on all the colonies.  It is widely recognized that the release of sexual tension results in a positive state of mind.  Although the neurochemical basis of this is not yet well-understood; the positive benefits of having sex are plain to see.

Within the colonies, copulation between people over the age of 16 is permitted; however no female on the Mars Colony can bear live young.  All embryos are grown in our exogenesis laboratory where they are subjected to genetic testing, and their unique DNA is copied and stored.

Initially, males raised a great stink about this; however they began to embrace this reproductive strategy after two women died while pregnant – as had been foretold by Strongin and Reese in 2009 (See Chapter 2).  “Unless pregnant women lived in zero gravity chambers or large bodies of water, the compromised pelvic bone integrity would make carrying a child to term difficult, even with Mars’ lower gravity.  Natural childbirth would be prohibitive.” (p. 19).

All colonies are provided with exogenesis chambers.  Eggs are harvested from females and fertilized by sperm from males.  All offspring are genetically modified to make them better suited to the environment in which they are expected to thrive.  After 40-plus years men have come to realize mothers are still as loving and devoted as they were before – when they bore live young.

The offspring of certain groups are genetically modified in order to help them better adapt to the environment in which they live.  Humans on Earth are not genetically modified except by the very long process of natural selection.  Earth is the perfect place for the unmodified Human body as it is.

Humans who boarded the Spacefaring ships were not modified; however the technology and equipment necessary to implement the changes were sent on-board the vessels.  It was not known what changes would be evolutionarily adaptive for them.  Nor is it known which modifications, if any, each of them has applied.

The Orbiters, who live in zero gravity, modified their offspring to have two arms and no legs.  Some of them have been modified to have four arms and no legs.  Legs are a nuisance in zero G. One thing each of us off-Earth has in common is that we have been genetically modified to help us adapt to our respective environments.  We have been modified to resist radiation and to address bone loss and muscle atrophy issues among other things.  Although we do not directly produce live offspring, we can become parents if we choose.

The genetic modifications allow us to live much longer than before.  It is conceivable we might live as long as 500 years.  By then technological advances will have made even this figure obsolete.

Monogamy, once the most common form of mating structure on Earth, is not encouraged on any of the colonies.  With the removal of the fear of unplanned pregnancies and all the benefits that are known regarding sexual intercourse, there is no reason not to pursue multiple partners if desired.

Unfortunately, we did not come to this conclusion until after there had been several homicides between romantic rivals.  At least one occurrence happened on each Mars, the Moon, the Morris Orbiter, the Cox Orbiter, and even one on the International Space Station.  The tradition of monogamy died hard.  We, on Mars, hope that someday in the near future sexual and romantic jealousy will be eradicated, and with it, the attendant violence.

Astrosociologists predicted our societies would be well-served were we to give lots of thought and attention to the matter beforehand (See Pass, Chapter 7).  They decided to work with psychologists.  Together those two groups determined “best-fit” models.  For the most part, they got things right.  Much like in Eckelkamp’s fiction (See Chapter 17) we respect one another and live in harmony.  All people are cherished – young and old alike (See Wong, Chapter 8).

The second in command here is Dr. Gianna Pittman.  She is an artist of Solar-System re-known (See Brzezinski, Chapter 16).  She is both a visual artist and a musician.  Because she was afraid they would be destroyed by the comet and might become lost to us forever, she brought along as many of the “Pythagorean Lambdoma Harmonic Keyboard” (PLHK) instruments with her as she could (See Hero, Chapter 6).  Barbara Hero, the inventor of this instrument, described the experience of playing the PLHK in the following manner.

It becomes a kinesthetic experience that can induce a pleasantly altered state, one where there is no anger, only love.  I have observed that for many people with problems to solve on the emotional, physical, spiritual or mental levels, solutions often come instantaneously.  The instrument leads to a peaceful, harmonic way of life, as envisioned by Pythagoras in 500 BC, when he strummed his lyre and dissipated anger in one of his disciples (p. 68).

The other colonists are immensely grateful to Dr. Pittman for bringing these with her.  Without her foresight, they would be without this remarkable healing instrument.

HABITATS, GOVERNANCES AND OBJECTIVES

Here on Mars we live underground.  So do most people on the Earth and Moon.  This allows us to be much better protected against the elements than we would be if we were living on the surface.

Every person, including every child, is provided with his or her own private quarters.  The effects privacy has on morale and sense of well-being – as well as general productiveness have long been known (See Ryan and Kutschera, Chapter 9).

The first Humans on Mars were miners.  They lived in inflatable habitats.  Many of those original habitats are still in use today.  Dr. Gianna Pittman uses one as an art studio and another for her music studio (See Brzezinski, Chapter 16).

After two years of tireless effort, the miners completed the underground habitat we call home (See Taylor and Benaroya, Chapter 10).  We owe our existence to those early miners and to honor them, we declared the site where they first erected their inflatable habitats a historic place.  In addition we turned one of the structures into a museum.  We named this museum the “Sadeh Museum” to honor the two men who designed the buildings (See Sadeh and Sadeh, Chapter 14).

Most of the people on Earth live underground in one gigantic manmade cave that was constructed decades before Comet ME-2037 struck.  The area where they live is located in Colorado in the United States of America and was formerly the Headquarters for an organization called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).  Before the impacts, the underground facility was used to watch for incoming missiles or aircraft attack.  It is pretty much missile-proof.  Thankfully the Space Based Solar Power system that had been put in place earlier in the century remained intact after the impacts.  The system provides the people with ample clean energy (See Hsu, Chapter 12).

The Morris and Cox Orbitors are breathtaking to behold, and appear much like Paolo Soleri (See Chapter 4) envisioned they would.  Soleri described space cities as being “luminescent, chromatic, and serene” (p. 35), which is indeed how they appear.

Before our colonies were settled we decided each colony would be independent and would have its own government.  When drafting our respective constitutions, each of us incorporated elements from Bob Krone’s Overview Space Governance model (See Chapter 3).  We also drew heavily from his “A Code of Ethics for Humans in Space” (Connor, Downing and Krone, 2006).  Each colony adapted Krone et al.’s earlier works to suit their particular requirements.

Here on Mars our primary objective is to maintain our habitat.  Mars can be a hostile place to live if we are not careful.  Our first priority is to ensure that our food, water, and air supplies remain stable.

Because we cannot depend on others for food, and in fact the people on the Cox Orbiter depend upon us for this commodity, growing enough food is essential to our survival.  We do this by growing food in our greenhouses.  We have acres and acres of greenhouses on the surface.  Nothing is wasted.  Inedible plant matter is used to produce fuel (See Kiker, Chapter 11).  A third objective is to terraform our planet.

We have discovered that our people are more content and our colony is enhanced when individuals have opportunities to master different trades.  An example of how this has worked well follows.  A few years ago one of our mechanical engineers decided he would like to work on the surface of the planet for a change.  He elected to work in the greenhouses.  He found he felt happiest when working in what was then a small out of the way vineyard.  It did not take him long to pair his mechanical engineering talents with his love of working with fruit-bearing vines.  Before long we had wine – which we use in large part for ceremonial purposes.  Word of that invention spread quickly, and now the wines we produce are highly coveted by the other colonies.

One of the goals for the colonists living on the Morris and Cox Orbiters is to conduct experiments.  Another goal is to produce medications.  Due to the heavy biological research focus that takes place on the Orbiters, most of the medical expertise comes from them.

The primary mission of the Moon Colony is to build and launch Tachyon ships.  We all remain hopeful and optimistic about the success of these endeavors.

WE HAVE BECOME A CIVILIZATION OF PEACE

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The Colonies including Earth have collectively become a civilization of peace.  We experience “the peace of Shalom, the peace of civilization…” (Kirby, 2008).

When establishing our colonies, we were on the defensive.  Our aim was to save the Human race.  We did not spend our last days fighting one another or making instruments of war.  Dan Shaw expressed this nicely when he wrote, “Countries came together against a common enemy, and no resources were destroyed or squandered in wars and deadly conflicts (See Shaw and Bell, Chapter 19, p. 234).

We feel a sense of interconnection.  Because our systems are even more inter-related than they were in 2009 when Lowry Burgess (See Chapter 5) so eloquently described the Metasphere, the Metasphere is still present.  However; perhaps because none of us has any military-type defenses, or maybe in part due to our collective close brush with death, this Metasphere seems much more benign than the one described by Burgess in 2009.

Instead, we experience what Frank White described as “a new form of unity,” (See White, Chapter 1, p. 8).  We know, see, feel, and intuit each other.  We have discovered Frank White was right when he said, “The universe, or Cosma, is, like the Earth, an interconnected and interdependent system” (p. 8).

Humans now see the Cosma in all its splendor and glory!

References

Connor, K. T., Downing, L., & Krone, B. (2006).  A code of ethics for humans in space.  In B. Krone (Ed.), Beyond Earth: The future of humans in space, (pp. 119-126).  Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Apogee Space Press.

Kirby, R. (2008, November).  The once and future Veterans Administration.  Unpublished manuscript, Kepler Space University, Seattle, WA.