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Imagine that the world has drastically changed from what it is today. For the first time humanity is united under one global banner in the aftermath of a devastating WWIII. In fact, the war was so bad that this new global government is founded on the idea of refocusing humanity on "ascension and improvement" instead of "greed and supremacy"; abolishing war in favor of exploration. In only 2 decades the "United Earth Republic" began the rapid colonization of the Moon, Mars, Titan, and massive orbital stations; with the off-world population ultimately growing to almost 8 billion.

All of this was fueled by a new "Colonial-Industrial Complex" which, much like the modern American military-industrial complex, kept exploration and colonization at the forefront of government spending, and perpetually accelerated expansion by design. But its not like such a complex could just spring up overnight, especially with all the logistics, R&D, and funding needed to spread across the system.

So with that in mind, how would you guys design the Colonial-Industrial complex to grow and thrive so quickly? Especially if war, violence, and resource control absolutely can't be involved as driving factors in it.

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    $\begingroup$ The "military-industrial complex" was a product of 1) The ever-imminent threat during the Cold War and it's accompanying arms race and spending, and 2) an era of rapid technological change that tended to obsolete older weapons rather quickly, requiring replacement. Note that it's not 'modern' any more, and (outside the Air Force) hardly exists - it's a tough living to be a DOD equipment supplier these days. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Mar 15 '18 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ I think there might be an issue with your numbers. There aren't 8 billion people on Earth today, yet you claim there will be 8 billion people in space 20 years after a "devastating WWIII" that will likely be nuclear in nature. I doubt these population numbers are possible. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 15 '18 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ Eight billion after 20 years means of average of 400 million per year, which means over a million people emigrating to space permanently every day for twenty years, immediately following a devastating war. That's way beyond plausibility- even a population of 8 million would be stretching it, with over a thousand people leaving Earth every day. I think this premise needs a significantly longer timespan, significantly smaller population, or both. $\endgroup$ – Catgut Mar 15 '18 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ What about after 70 years? Two or three generations seem like enough time for it to grow that big. Especially if the population capacity rose from the combination of quantum leaps in technology and limitless space and resources from colonizing space. $\endgroup$ – Mattias Mar 15 '18 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps this gives you the info you need: projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacestations.php $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 24 '18 at 14:41
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What comes to mind first is how we currently do it: Government contracts.

We have government-agencies that give out contracts to develop $thing (i.E. to develop an orbital transport system that can deliver people to the ISS) and people start building stuff to reach that goal and get the money you promissed them.

You start with "small" goals and increase until you reach your ultimate target.

This way the us-government gave billions to Space-X so they could develop their current rockets - because rockets become way cheaper the more you build (partly because R&D is the most expensive part), Space-X is motivated to sell the same rockets to other agencies and to expand it's business.

So now we have Space-X launching private satellites and developing more stuff independently from the US-Government.

If you come so far that you get private space stations (i.e. because you want to start asteroid mining) then you get ressources in space without having to lift them up. - Then "all you have to do" is to continue scaling your economy up and to find a way how people can actually live permanently on space stations without huge biological problems.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem is government contracts won't give quick growth. Without an external cause like war, violence, or resource control, rapid expansion isn't really in the best interest of the government because more speed = more money. Government contracts would be a great way to provide a steady incentive of progress, just not "fast". $\endgroup$ – Unassuming Guy Mar 15 '18 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ fast mostly just depends on how much money you throw at it - currently we just don't invest relevant money into space exploration (just look at how much money is going into warfare and what resulting weapons are being developed/bought) $\endgroup$ – Dr. Azrael Tod Sep 12 '18 at 14:12
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Answer is simple - desire of individuals to better themselves and their families.

If you take a look back at any period where humans achieved a massive breakthrough in production and productivity that improved the entire human civilization, it was usually a side effect of them wanting to better them selves somehow. I mean individuals, not entire groups necessarily.

For example when colonies in Americas were set up people wanted to exploit the resources there for their own benefit in order to generate wealth. They went to the colonies themselves as incomes were better then what they could earn at home. Pioneers borrowed coin and promised great returns on investments. Remember that it is usually not the case that 1 mega-investor gave most of the capital and expected a return - most probable case is that many, many people would put some of their savings in the hands of the few to try and gain some return on that small investment. With that money, the pioneers could start to colonize, build, invest and produce while the initial borrowers could buy something nice once their return on investment came back. Beneficial for everyone.

Infrastructure is being built for exploitation of natural resources in order to profit from them. However, creating that infrastructure needs more workers. Which required more resources like food, clothing, tools, housing, which required more infrastructure... it is a snowball effect where wealth attracts wealth. Countless people see that they could sell their services in this new sector better so they move and try to make a better living. With more wealth and territory human populations explode in size, which in some years ends up requiring even more resources to be acquired etc.

While some people notice the growth and wealth being generated are naturally attracted as it is a whole new market with very little competition and a relatively easy entry, others simply want a new adventure, a life away from their old family (they can marry someone the family does not approve of perhaps?). They like risk, they follow their friend how got them an amazing position in some excavation company etc.

This snowballing effect would go on until humans reach some sort of equilibrium - extraction of additional resources is no longer straightforward and entry in to the industry becomes difficult. Human populations grow rapidly but are eventually forced to slow down their growth once easy wealth-generation spots are filled in. Governments slowly start putting in regulations to prevent injury or dangerous activity. Additional bureaucracy, that attempts to achieve good, slows down human activity as it puts a heavy cost of entry (licences, training, taxes etc).

But guess what - a new colony is just being made and life is a bit easier there and money can be made so much easier. You work the same hours but you get like 3 times more money because they are short on manpower... and the cycle repeats it self.

Only limit is technology and government.

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