I’ve written about motivations for sending new colonies on starships to settle earth like planets on other star systems. Astronomers have found thousands of these, so assuming that we don’t wipe ourselves out before we develop the technology, one day we’ll land on planets lit by another star.

Technology for New Colonies

First some assumptions.

  • Planets we settle are in the Goldilocks zone and have breathable atmosphere.
  • We can travel faster than light (either Einstein was wrong, or there’s some alternative dimension or something)
  • There are people with both money and motive to start new colonies

With that, what technology do we take with us to start new colonies? Bear in mind that a lot of common tech is constrained by its history and the pre-existing infrastructure. On the new colonies there won’t be any infrastructure, so there’s more freedom (and some different constraints).


I’m starting with this because it’s more obvious. There won’t be roads, or even clear space at first. So anything taken/built on arrival needs to be cross country capable. It also needs to be able to cross rivers. There’s also a limit to the level of external navigation, forget self drivers, mostly it’ll be human driver assisted by tech.

The most sensible propulsion is probably a ground effect vehicle powered by fuel cells. This would give amphibious capability and also allow you to get some speed up in mapped areas. I also suspect that it is less complex to manufacture, but I haven’t checked that.


English: BASF Chemical Plant Portsmouth Site i...
BASF Chemical Plant Portsmouth Site in the West Norfolk area of Portsmouth, Virginia, United States. The plant is served by the Commonwealth Railway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It wouldn’t be sensible to assume that people could just turn up under some other sun and just plant crops or let animals loose.  Even if we did we’d need loads of testing to be sure that there wasn’t some dangerous pathogen in the local environment.

We would need to be able to produce industrial quantities of food for at least the first few years, if not for the life of the colony.

So some sort of self-contained growing facilities would need to be built on arrival and then thoroughly sterilised. Mostly I suspect something like a brewery with hundreds of vats of things growing in vitro.

This approach might also extend to both pharma and fuel production. Large biomass digesters filled with genetically modified yeasts that produce something useful as a byproduct. Again, this is probably more energy efficient and easier to manage than building chemical plants to synthesise the same product.

Culture and Nations

This is the Biggie. Although we might take elements of this with us when we move to the stars, we won’t take it all. There’s a really high chance that we’ll take one shared culture to any particular place. Those that go will also have looser ties to their old nations. After all, they’ve left for a reason.

As examples look at the Americas, especially the USA. All those countries are a Hodge podge of people from different cultures and nations. Their culture differs from the original states, and some things strong in the old countries are very weak in the Americas.


In the past human settlements have largely been built around communal buildings, often churches. I wouldn’t expect new colonies to be any different. In their early days I expect they would look like the military camps we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, but for different reasons.

There’d be shared accommodation and communal eating and leisure facilities. As essential services were established then colonies would turn to individual housing units for people. Privacy would come, although exactly how would depend very much on the motives of those funding the new colonies.

News and Entertainment

In the short term all the entertainment would be imported. New colonies won’t have the economic slack to support artists. Until everything is automated, then everyone will be able to practice their favourite art.

No doubt there’s going to be some equivalent of a local internet, but possibly with a central control. There won’t be that many servers on the planet, so it would be easier to regulate.


What do you think? What might we want to take with us, and what should we deliberately try to leave behind?