The ultimate goal of telerobotic pre-settlement is, of course, the creation of habitats for human beings, with a high reliance on the telerobotically pre-established industrial infrastructure and some degree of construction automation of such habitats to reduce the import overhead of colonization. As noted in the previous section, the first manned habitats would be based on the same excavated structures as the telerobotic Excavated Settlement, employing pneumatic hulled shelters and then pressurized bulkhead modules within the same grid-vaulted spaces. Though intended for long-term use, these would still be transitional structures. Full-scale human habitats will be based on another more specialized set of designs focused largely on the issue of cultivating spacious ‘outdoor’ garden environments within them distinct from the dwelling structures settlers employ for housing. As noted in the article on Life In Avalon development of naturalistic virtually open spaces will be one of the most critical aspects to making life comfortable and enjoyable in space.
Several likely structural approaches for this across the Avalon development –Atrium Habitats, Lava Tunnel Habitats, and Surface Domes– are based on the simple premise of creating very large span spaces that place dwellings and systems to their periphery and garden space in their center while exploiting the psychological characteristics of diffusely illuminated or light-transmitting domed spaces of large scale as the basis of a virtual ‘sky’. In effect, subterranean ‘biospheres’ as fanciful or as realistic to a particular terrestrial biome as their occupants desire and generally designed as Closed Ecological Systems with some degree of self-sustainability. It is much easier to adapt plant and marine life to the differences in space environments than animal life and initial biomes will likely be short on larger animal organisms. But eventually animals would also be incorporated into these biomes, some genetically engineered to accommodate differing gravity and less diversified artificial biomes. Not only would this be useful in creating a pleasant human habitat, this work will be very important research toward practical techniques of terraforming, later applied to the surface of Mars and the planets of other star systems. To assist this development, telerobotics technology originally employed in surface activity and industrial development would be evolved toward semi-autonomous robotics focused on automation of the cultivation and maintenance of these vast biomes.
These large habitats would, for the most part, develop as conjoined clusters but may employ some long distance transit links based on subterranean tunnels as guideways. PRT vehicles and mag lev trains would be employed in these transit links, some possible spanning great distances as the Avalon settlers seek to exploit large lava tunnels and mountain strata for habitats at some distance from locations more suited to launch and industrial activity.
Though vast in scale compared to grid vault networks of the telerobotic excavated settlement, these habitats would employ a largely similar approach to their outfitting based on the same interior retrofit component systems. They would be large but simple pressurized spaces, their surfaces covered whole or in part with a grid of formed-in plug-in sockets supporting light framing and mass-produced modular interior finishing components that would cover most of the structural interior surface area, provide attachment for infrastructure systems, host large area ‘sim-sky’ illumination systems, and simple frame housing/building structures. As noted previously, this retrofit system is a direct derivative of the Utilihab plug-in building system deployed as early as the Foundation phase, though its mix of materials will likely reflect the nature of local production. As noted in the Life In Avalon article, a surprisingly Asian character may emerge with habitat décor as a result of the modular topology and a reliance on materials like bamboo, woven reed, ceramics, composites, and textiles that offer the most immediate use of indigenous raw materials though simple industry and automated indoor agriculture.
What is particularly interesting and important about this approach to construction is that it offers us a remarkable opportunity to develop and showcase today, here on Earth, very plausible representations of these space habitats –albeit at reduced scale– using essentially the same Utilihab components employed in Aquarian marine settlement development. With the macrostructure of the Avalon habitat largely concealed behind retrofit surface components, any alternative and light support structure one might devise –such as prefab geodesic domes and other industrial prefabs– could host these same kinds of components for an effective mock-up of the space habitat in any large span enclosure available. Though limited to the smaller forms of transitional habitat, locations like the Kansas City Subtopolis would provide an ideal excavated structure analog and be readily employed for realistic habitat mock-ups. To a large extent, the Aquarian marine colonies would also be fair presentations of Avalon architecture, the habitats employing a terraced structure approach for its peripheral structures, sculpted landscape forms similar to the ‘tectonic’ architecture of the marine colonies and both employing essentially the same interior finishing technology with very similar aesthetics.
As we will discuss in more detail later, long-term, the habitats of Avalon would evolve toward progressively more sophisticated structural systems eventually culminating in the use of NanoFoam and the subsuming of these habitats by BioZome complexes capable of self-construction and adaptation and eventually complete surface coverage or subterranean permeation of large lunar/planetary areas. A kind of virtual terraforming could be accomplished where true terraforming is not possible; these BioZomes creating a kind of second-surface of conjoined pressurized domes sheltering the actual surface, allowing for vast areas to be cultivated into a garden habitat.
Let’s now look at the likely habitat structural approaches individually.
- Life In Avalon
- Telerobotic Outpost
- Excavated Settlement
- Surface Transit Fleets
- Surface Transit Waystation
- Mass Launcher System
- Lunar/Planetary Space Elevator Systems
- Avalon Supporting Technologies