Take An Asteroid Ark Ship To The Stars And Arrive In Second Place.Edit
Asteroids can be big grumpy things that decide that they are going to make life on Earth, just like the dinosaurs, extinct. They are flying around all over the place entering our solar system on their trajectories, and either crashing or being caught by another object in our system, or just peacefully cruising straight through and onwards out into the dark void. Asteroids are normally looked upon as nasty things that we need to be protected from, but there is another way of looking at them. By their nature, they are full of rocks and minerals useful for mining for resources, and could even be a future bolthole for humanity. If we have an imminent problem on our lovely blue planet we could be kicking ourselves for not thinking further forward and having plans in place for another home. In my opinion the trouble with the human race in general Is that we only live 80 or 90 years maximum and therefore it is the only time we plan for. We need to look generations ahead.
== Asteroid ship==
For something as large as an asteroid colony that would turn into a spacecraft eventually a world commitment would need to be made. After the commitment is made certain things are absolutely essential to make this work. Hopping onto an asteroid that is already moving is a good idea but it would be hard to get everything on it that is needed for a very long voyage. There is no problem landing and taking off on an asteroid as the gravity is minimal and therefore requires less fuel. Getting all the equipment into orbit around the Earth might be a bit of a problem. But perhaps we would have already mined some very close asteroids in preparation and leave the Earth out of the equation altogether. For a trip to the stars and perhaps beyond the asteroid we are thinking of using may have to have an orbit around the Earth ready for us to exploit it. We can load the thousands of passengers and tons of equipment before it got out of range this way. We could spend years, setting it up but eventually it would need some form of propulsion. At the moment, the ion drive seems about the only constant propulsion system that would be of any use in my eyes. Then the asteroid will have a large percentage of its interior excavated while leaving its outer shell mostly intact. The Earth has been excavated many times, producing large caverns so the only problem would be getting the equipment to the asteroid and using it in zero gravity. This interior excavation can take the form of interconnecting tunnels, concentric rings, a large central hollow sphere, or a large central hollow cylinder. The comet or asteroid is then spun up and rotated to produce artificial gravity along its inner hollowed surfaces, which are presurized and terraformed to make them more accommodating to human inhabitants.
== Which star ?==
A hollowed out asteroid is a good idea as it provides protection against radiation with the masses of rocks and minerals around the central core. If the asteroid was travelling forward, either a massive amount of asteroid would be needed to be left ahead of the central habitation or a large shield would be needed ahead of the asteroid to protect it from abrasion over the years. The cheapest way would probably be to inhabit the rear part of the asteroid and leave the forward part as a shield.
A reliable power source would be needed, something such as solar power when close to stars and a nuclear power source in between stars. This would be especially necessary if the inhabitants of the ark are cryogenically frozen. Radiator fins would need to be attached to control the temperature. The production of heat from thousands of humans and machinery would just be too much and would need to be released somehow. The temperature also needs to be controlled because of the Windows that would need to be built to allow sunlight into the dark interior. Water would need to be carried and could be stored between the outside and the inside of the skin of the asteroid. Hopefully this could be acquired from the moon if LCROSS finds water in substantial amounts. People would walk along the inner surface of the asteroid. As the asteroid would be spun up along its longest axis the gravity could be made to be very close to Earths. Food would be grown on the inner surface, rivers and lakes would form and buildings would be built. The plants and trees would reduce the CO2 and produce oxygen and a closed loop system would be carefully monitored. Water would have to be carefully monitored too and recycled. Hopefully the thickness of the asteroid’s skin would prevent water and oxygen from leaking into space. If not an inner skin may have to be built.
So what would life be like for the inhabitants of our ark ship?Edit
The inhabitants would probably be there for hundreds of years, perhaps even hundreds of generations. There would have to be a good data storage on board the ship so as to remember the important things such as operation of the ship, where they have come from, how to make beer, where they are going and what they are in. It is a big possibility that they could think that the universe is what they see (the inside of an asteroid), and not even realise that that they have arrived at their destination. This generation or ark ship would take thousands of years to reach their destination, and it is very likely they would get overtaken by more advanced technology that we had built. Imagine going to all that effort, and then the 10th generation arriving at the star with their Ark but finding that humans had already been there or are there already with a second-place prize ready and a small shiny starship or a wormhole.