In the late 1980s futurist author Marshall Savage published what is perhaps the most comprehensive space development and colonization plan ever proposed. Dubbed The Millennial Project (or TMP for short) and detailed in a book of the same name, this millennium-spanning plan set out in colorful detail every major step of human civilization's progression into space, from the cultivation of a new space-focused society and the establishment of a terrestrial renewable energy and industrial infrastructure to drive the initial expansion into space all the way through to the creation of a vast Solar Civilization based predominately on orbital settlements with a collective population of trillions and culminating in the first missions to colonize neighboring stars.
Grand space development visions are nothing new but the completeness of TMP set it apart from all others prior to it. Most works on the subject of space development have been overly focused on the 'hardware' of space -the vehicles and habitats of space settlement- without fully considering the process and logistics of their development or its cultural and environmental ramifications on Earth. Many space development plans read more like escape plans; schemes for an industrial elite to flee the devastated and spent Earth in order to perpetuate their pathological behavior elsewhere. TMP was unique in that it actually takes account of the Earth and the restoration of its environment as necessary and functional elements in the expansion of civilization. Key to this was the recognition of a much overlooked fact about space travel; that physics offers no free lunches and that the energy overhead needed for a civilization-wide push to space far exceeds the maximum capacity of our non-renewable energy infrastructure -even if the imminent prospect of Peak Oil were no issue.
To deal with this and the many other terrestrial resource and socio-economic problems that present stumbling blocks to our expansion into space, Savage turned to the sea with the notion of a marine development phase as a precursor to space development. Dubbed Aquarius, it's purpose was simply to cultivate, through the creation of a large community of floating equatorial marine colonies, a new global renewable energy infrastructure tapping, through the use of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion technology, the single greatest repository of renewable solar energy on Earth. In addition, these colonies would cultivate in concert the many other renewable resources offered by the sea creating, as Savage characterized it, a new player who comes to the poker table of the world markets with a fire-hose spewing poker chips up his sleeve. Thus these colonies would collectively compel the development of a renewable resource-based global economy, overcoming much of the environmental and social degradation that plagues our world and freeing the society to focus on the challenges of space.
This uniquely progressive perspective on space and the future, coming at a time when the national space agencies had lost all sense of focus and purpose, mainstream environmentalism had become mired in Malthusianism, and the mainstream media had abandoned all positive images of the future as retro-futurist naïvety in favor of millenarian dystopianism and its masturbatory fantasies of apocalypse, brought TMP much -albeit brief- attention. An advocacy group formed around TMP's vision of a Foundation community, attracting a membership of thousands from around the globe. Work began on realizing the first stages of TMP and Savage himself featured in several TV documentaries on the future.It's possible motion picture rights were even sold.
But as time passed and research into the realization of TMP progressed, its flaws began to emerge. All visions of the future are specific to the context of the state of science and technology at the time they are created. As technology and scientific understanding as well as contemporary cultural and social trends evolve, so they must evolve as well to remain relevant. Savage could only fit so much detail in a single book and his understanding of science, technology, and logistics were not perfect. Over time, certain elements of TMP because problematic or simply obsolete. For instance, Savage's original concept of Bifrost -a magnetic mass accelerator launch system intended to be built within Mt. Kilimanjaro- proved infeasible. It's essential premise as an electric -and therefore renewable energy- powered launch system remained logical and valid but that particular technology proved unworkable in that form. Today this same role would more practically embodied in the development of a Space Elevator system.
Perhaps the most logistically problematic element of TMP was one of its first and most critical proposed stages, Aquarius Rising; the development of a collection of coastal eco-villages which would develop the key technologies for full scale marine colonization. Intended for location in idyllic coastal lagoons where mariculture, OTEC, and marine construction research might be conducted, they proved an insurmountable challenge because of the scarcity and cost of the real estate they required. Here TMP, its nascent Foundation, and its community of fans found themselves in direct competition with resort developers for the most costly real estate on the planet!
Increasingly stymied by such issues, TMP was in desperate need of revision but its author became unavailable to aid in this task. For personal reasons which remain unexplained to this day, Marshall Savage chose to abandon his career as a futurist to pursue a life in isolation, leaving the future of TMP in the hands of its fans and advocates in the First Millennial Foundation -later renamed the Living Universe Foundation. (due to some mysterious American bureaucratic aversion to the word 'millennium' on NPO application forms...) Lacking in leadership that felt qualified or authorized for the task of this revision, activity in the LUF declined to a slow but steady pace of discussion among its shrinking membership.
In 2006 long time FMF/LUF member and alternative architecture researcher Eric Hunting began writing a series of articles in a personal attempt to update TMP to contemporary technology and logistics, elaborate its details, and to address and incorporate futurist trends in areas of computers, telecommunications, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and transhumanism which Marshall Savage had originally overlooked. After seven such articles, perhaps comprising at least as much text as in the original TMP itself, this effort has now culminated in this wiki site and a project dubbed TMP 2.0. It is the objective to TMP 2.0 to document in an encyclopedic form the functional elements of this revised and updated version of TMP so they can be progressively elaborated on and illustrated, eventually developing into very specific, functional, evolving plans for the realization of each stage of TMP and the development of its many facilities, structures, systems, and institutional or financial entities.
TMP 2.0 differs little in basic theme and theory from the original TMP. However, it is more focused on logistics and process, on the staged cultivation of infrastructures behind its developments, the specific nature and role of architectural and industrial design, and the role of emerging Post-Industrial technologies such as nanotechnology. it is also less strictly sequential, the original eight phases of TMP retained but regarded more as individual programs as opposed to fixed stages in time and in some cases concurrent to each other and more interdependent in relationship. For instance, the Asgard and Avalon phases are now no longer specific to individual settlements in Earth orbit and the lunar surface respectively but rather as programs of comprehensive Near Earth orbital and general lunar and planetary surface development which may both occur concurrently and be, to some degree, co-dependent. TMP 2.0 does deviate more in the importance of the Elysium phase and the terraforming of Mars, as opposed to its simple surface settlement, this due to the realization of the planet's inability to be an actual host for terrestrial life since so little of it would be able to tolerate the variation in solar intensity and gravity even given the benefit of a terrestrial atmosphere. it is more likely, therefore, that Mars will become the proving ground for the techniques of engineering radically new ecologies rather than the preservation of terrestrial ecology as a prerequisite to the seeding of life in general throughout the galaxy. TMP 2.0 also is more concerned with the potential role of sentient artificial intelligence, its impact on culture, and the evolution of a transhumanist society. Marshall Savage largely ignored the role of artificial intelligence in TMP and his vision of a transhumanist society was predicated on the need for deliberate organic human adaption through biotechnology to varying environments of the galaxy -logical enough given the nascent state of personal computing and the hype surrounding biotechnology at the time TMP was written. TMP 2.0 regards the possibility of an emergent AI faction of society with a complex relationship with organic human society and the eventual realization of a society of the distant future that is embodied by a 'transhumanist spectrum of humanity' with the fully (and rare) organic human being on one end and the fully relocatable software based sentient being on the other end, the lifestyles of individuals potentially moving freely in both directions along this spectrum over the course of life. This has serious ramifications for the nature of the future civilization and the strategies it may choose for the proliferation of life in the universe, since the farther along toward the inorganic side of this spectrum the more easily one is able to tolerate the rigors of space travel.
Please direct enquiries to Eric Hunting at TheMillennialProject @ gmail.com