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The answers to this question may be subjective but I am interested in other's opinions (I have some myself), so please include your selection criteria. Also let me bound the question:

You can only use near term (next 50 years) technology. Consider environment factors

  • Gravity (too little is harmful to us, while there aren't many spots with too much in our solar system)
  • Atmosphere (too little can be overcome, but too much is difficult)
  • Temperature (cold can be overcome, but too much heat is difficult)
  • Radiation (some provision for radiation protection)
  • Resource availability (volatiles, construction, metals)
  • Energy availability (solar, fission, fusion)
  • Living space/carrying capacity
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marked as duplicate by HDE 226868, Vincent, Community May 25 '15 at 20:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    $\begingroup$ Related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/2507/28 $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 25 '15 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ The link does answer my question pretty well. For those of you who answered, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Jim2B May 25 '15 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Glad you found the answer(s) you were looking for! I didn't close this as a dupe because the other question excludes the moon and Mars while yours doesn't, but you get to make that call of course. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 25 '15 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ I was hoping for a bit more discussion and people's thoughts. However, I didn't know of the other question and there are 16 other answers there for me to look at. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B May 25 '15 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Considering fusion a near term technology... wasn't that near term from the beginning of the atomic era? $\endgroup$ – Oxy May 12 '16 at 10:01
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Luna, Phobos, Deimos, Mars, and the asteroids. I'd love to give some detailed and precise and insightful explanation, but the reality is that with near future technology space colonization is all about orbital mechanics and the amount of delta-V needed to get to or from somewhere. Note that the order of the above destinations depends on the mission. For example, Mars is easier to get to than the asteroid belt but has a much deeper gravity well. So for one way trip Mars is better, if you want to bring something back the asteroids start looking better.

Also, it should be noted that much of Earth is still uncolonized. It is probably easier to colonize the oceans or the Antarctica than the Moon. It is much simpler to terraform the Sahara or other deserts than Mars.

Additionally, if you want a research or mining colony, with near future technology it is probably easier to send robots to do the work by remote control and local AI. It isn't as good as humans on site, but you can ignore gravity, atmosphere, life support and lots of other messy stuff needed by humans long term.

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Several answers, it really depends on answering the 'why' question.

  • Survival of the human race.

One of the bigger arguments to get us to space ultimately comes from human redundancy department of human redundancy (HRDHR?). From a purely survival standpoint, we are currently 100% dependent on the Earth and had an extinction level event occurred here, the human species is potentially gone. From a purely survival standpoint, getting off of Earth and somewhere else is the survival through redundancy option...if Earth is eliminated through events out of our control (yellowstone become a volcano the size of Wyoming?) then our species only hope for survival is not to be on just Earth.

If survival of the human race / species redundancy is your goal...I would suggest a moon of Jupiter as our first colony. This gives a few advantages...if the sun enters a dormant phase that heavily impacts earth, this Jovian colony wouldn't care much as it could be dependent on Jupiter for energy derivation instead. Mars, moon, and venus are far less desirable as a large scale event could effect both Earth and this new colony. The further away from Earth and into the outer solar system, the better.

  • Stepping stone to bigger and greater.

If this is the first step towards a bigger goal of space colonization, then the very obvious choice becomes the moon as it becomes a space dock / construction yard. Ultimately it takes a lot of energy to get away from the Earths gravitational pull and even more energy to get up to an orbital speed. Reversely, the moons gravity is significantly easier to escape and you're already orbiting earth. It makes it far simpler to create the ships on the moon and use it as a construction site to create the infrastructure required for further expansion

  • Home sweet Earth like home

It's a bit of retro-futurism...the idea that we can take 60's Earth culture and simply transplant it to another world. Turn some planet into Earth and setup white picket fences and perfectly mowed lawns as far as the eye can see. If we are looking for this second Earth like home, the terra-forming Mars effort is likely your best bet.

  • Mining and space faring

A little further out there...but our current human species is ultimately bound to Earth. We function with the gravity and atmosphere here...the food and water that are a core requirement to us is found here. That said, there isn't that much Earth out there and we need to have the realization that different colonies need to adapt differently...assuming there isnt a magical solution that allows faster than light travel, we need to admit that isolation of humans in different environments is going to create new races and subspecies of what we currently consider human. Whats a human that's never been exposed to gravity greater than microgravity going to look like, and how much isolation and time do they need before we call it a new human species? What will a high gravity human look like? If you're looking to expand human evolution and create a zero-g specialized human and a human race that's independent of Earth, then the asteroid belt becomes a decent choice.

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The moon.

It's a resource for materials, unlike empty space which requires materials to be brought in. It provides protection by digging down. It's close so emergencies can be assisted in 3 days travel, and it doesn't need to be as self-sufficient from day 1.

It is the natural first step.

It would serve as a shipyard for Mars craft etc. Because it's more practical to get stuff off of it, and open stip mines are there for the taking with no environment to worry about.

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As you can see from this chart, every planet with similar gravity to ours has a horribly extreme temperature. The most moderate temperate besides ours is the moon and then Mars. So if the moon isn't an option, go to Mars and terraform it.

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Well, I'm pretty sure there's going to be a mars colony inside the next 50 years, considering they already plan on sending people there starting in 2026. People have been lining up and are getting wait listed for a one-way ticket to their certain death on mars (literally—there's no return flight—they will go there and die there—how they die is yet to be determined, but they're hopeful that it'll be of old age).

We've already put men on the moon, but we haven't gone back since the initial exploration efforts because there's really nothing up there. Japan and Russia plan on establishing bases on the moon in the next 20 years, but there's not much more there than worthless rock, its only true value is measured by the effect it's gravity has on the earth, and the light it reflects at night. There might be some Helium-3 mining in the future, but probably not.

The most hospitable place in the universe to set up a colony, which wouldn't have to be in a station which generates it's own atmosphere, would be Gliese 832 c. But it would be an epic exodus to get there, and any ship we send will most likely get ripped apart by space debris before they could reach the planet.

Colonizing the Solar System won't be feasible until we can develop a more efficient method of transporting objects into orbit. You need to have a port before you can have an expedition, and the best place to build that port would be in high orbit.

A space elevator is still our best bet for transporting objects and materials into space, with a space elevator, you could build a large spaceport in high orbit, where you could construct a ship much larger than anything we could launch from the surface. This would be the staging area for colonizing other planets and moons.

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