Let's say I have an Environment, called eden

  • Abundant amounts of any resources needed to become a space faring civilization, as long as they are non-synthetic or man made resources

  • filled with hunter gatherers in a community

  • assume they stay as one community, do not splinter into other nations,are not attacked by others ,and do not have any regressions of technology and do lose any gained research/knowledge

How fast can they go from cavemen to at least a civilization with a one base of operations on each planet of the solar system

also, if you could give the answer in a timeline format, that would be great

Edit - I'm accepting richard kirk's answer, as I like the thought process of a civilization without many so called dead periods

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    $\begingroup$ I apologize for voting to close your question, but there isn't an answer that isn't "as fast as you want." We have only one datapoint: humanity. We can make thousands (millions... billions...) of assumptions about "well, humans could have done X faster if Y happened," but that's all hypothetical (prohibited in the help center) and too story-based (whether or not Y happens is up to you). Worse, this is tagged sciene-based. From the perspective of that tag the only answer is, "you can't do it faster than humanity did it." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 17 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, to give you an idea of how meaningless any answer here would be, consider the Rockwell International Integrated Space Plan. Starting back around 1980, it shows what, back then, people think had to happen to achieve a permanent base on Mars, which it proposes would be stable by 2100. Forty years later, it's completely wrong. If specialists couldn't do a good job of predicting only 100 or so years, what you're asking is, well... pure fiction. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 17 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ A hunter-gatherer community might have maybe a few hundred people. If they stay as a communit they will never have more than a few hundred people and they will never become anything other than hunter-gatherers. Problem solved. Splintering into multiple, diverse, competing communities is not a bug; it's a fundamentally required feature. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 17 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ To answer Edwin Starr's famous question "war, what is it good for?", well, innovation. It's unfortunate but it's true. No war means slower innovation, especially in the engineering field commonly known as "mucking about with explodey things", which is what you need for rocketry. $\endgroup$
    – biziclop
    Jun 17 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH i mean it said what was needed to happen for a permanent base on mars & was made by the US in 1983. No one really expected the USSR to kick the bucket in 1991 at that point & no one expected the following budget cuts, it was less they failed to predict technology & more they failed to predict geopolitics. it's always something that happens with that kind of thing that they assume the money coming in stays constant & then it doesn't. $\endgroup$
    – OT-64 SKOT
    Jun 17 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


People were hunter-gathers for as long as people have been people. Some people still are. It is pretty likely that people in a land of plenty would stick with what they are good at. We also do not know how long people stuck with early agriculture. We know this histories of places such as Mesopotamia where the evidence has survived, but many communities may have been by the sea, and rising sea levels have probably covered many earlier communities nearer the sea. Early agriculture may hav been around for a lot longer than we know.

Which brings us to an interesting point. Your people do not splinter into different groups or make war on each other. They do not fight even when there is enough for all. Why don't they? And how can they achieve this when many of our technological developments came from warfare?

Let us suppose their culture suddenly acquired a reverence for experiment and learning for its own sake above everything else. They want to know how everything works. An inventor comes up with papyrus and ink, and an alphabet, and they can write everything down and not forget it. Let us start our clock at this point.

They can work out which crops grow where, and what they can do to keep them healthy. They can innovate with ploughs and hoes, and crop rotation They preserve chance genetic variations, and grow them if they are better than the ordinary ones. They cultivate wheat with more seeds and shorter stems. They farm cabbage. Baking and brewing allow them to get more from their crops, and have more spare time to research. This may take several hundred years but each improvement convinces them that their approach is right.

Back to the academics. The first written language may not have been ideal. Let us suppose that they worked hard at improving it. They see their best documents as the most recent ones with the best notation. They need weights and measures to put numbers to the improvements in agriculture. They develop mathematics, geometry, the zero and the equals sign. They have surveying and maps. All this is happening in parallel with the agricultural developments.

The social structure reveres this learning. It tells them how much crops they will need, how much seed they will need, how to build when they outgrow their original caves. They build a library. A university grows around it. This establishes rules and laws. All land and major resources are held in common. There is little private property. The 'good life' is seen not as conspicuous consumption, but as conscious service to the body of knowledge that built it.

The economies of scale start to have an effect. A bigger oven is more efficient than a small one if you fill it. You have to make arches for big ovens. Architecture discovers the brick arch, the dome, the pillar and the chimney. The mathematicians figure out why these work. Coal is discovered, and then lead. Then people try heating up other rocks to see if there are any hidden surprises. Copper, tin and zinc follow. There is no known 'copper age' so we know that alloys were invented. Early chemistry. Wrought iron. Smithing. Concrete?

The leap from iron to steel is surprisingly small. The medieval chimney furnaces described in Agricolas 'De Re Metallica' are only a little short of the minimum size to make molten (cast) iron, and then . If you can, then burn off the dissolved carbon and make steel. I can imagine an academic society building bigger, hotter furnaces to see what they can do, rather than to make a profit, so they may get there earlier.

We may now be at the 400 year mark, and we are already at the Middle Ages. Let them discover large industry, and further economies of massive scale. Large coal mines, large iron mines, blast furnaces, railways. This may give cheap, mass-produced products, but also provide a spur to build ever larger things without wars. The actual Industrial Revolution took about 80 years in the real world.

I may have got you half-way there in 500 years without being too fanciful. I cannot easily see the next half. Why would they go to the stars? However, my grandfather fought in WW1, saw the Wright Brothers' first flight as a newsreel, lived to see the Apollo landings, and 20 years beyond that.

This is a fun time-line. Thanks for the question.


As long as it isn't Ankha meets little green man (alien) and makes Egyptian pyramid UFOS Egyptian-Alien Collaboration Extraterrestrial technology left over on the planet where cavemen find out about the technology and try to reverse engineer it, then the answer is, a very long time.

Basically, it is very hard to get into space, much less build bases on planet.

Assuming that your planet is Earth-like and has Earth-like gravity, then you are in for a very bad time.

It took us about 10,000 years, from the first civilization (Babylonia and whatnot) to become smart chad rocket engineers who can make powerful rockets like the Saturn V (The most powerful rocket engine ever built, not counting the SLS) which launched man to the Moon, and the Titan-Centaur-something rocket, which launched the farthest man-made objects, the Voyager probes into space, about nearly 17 billion miles away from Earth, and has exited the heliosphere already.

Even then, it is a pain in the a** to build a decent rocket even today, as most fuels used today in rockets are mostly Liquid Hydrogen or kerosene (Don't get me started on hydrazine or other complex fuels, that will take a ton of explaining).

Liquid hydrogen is of course, fiendishly difficult to create, store and use. Most H2 manufacturing uses steam-natural gas reforming bombarding natural gas with steam or fiendishly inefficient electrolysis, if you are a green hydrogen enthusiast. Furthermore, hydrogen atoms are so small they can escape through even our most tightest containment cells, and hydrogen is known to damage metals by hydrogen embrittlement. Also, although most gases cool down upon decompression, hydrogen heats up when expanded, unless you cooled it down to extremely low temperatures, due to some long-range molecular forces blah blah and other jumbo that will take a lot of time to explain. You can check out this ChemStack answer, if you want to know the reason. But, in short terms. Liquid hydrogen is about as difficult to maintain, as trying to keep a Siberian tiger and an mountain gorilla in the same room from attack each other (note: It will not work).

You run into some luck with kerosene, tho. Kerosene was used in the Saturn V for the first launch stage (the later stages used LH2-LOX), to blast it into space. Using Kerolox (A mix of kerosene and liquid oxygen), they managed to get into orbit.

However you again run into another problem: Kerosene tends to freeze in space, clogging up motors and whatnot. So again, you are back to the drawing board.

And don't get me into the problem of making a oxidizer. Liquid oxygen is a bit more merciful than liquid hydrogen in manufacturing, but again, LOX is really corrosive. Pure oxygen is about as safe as standing near to a atomic bomb initiated (Don't try it). In its pure form, oxygen is essentially the smaller bro of fluorine, it is less reactive, but not by much, which makes oxygen a voracious oxidizer. It has been known to attack xenon and platinum, reacts with hydrogen so violently it's like watching a mini-MOAB/FOAB exploding, and other catastrophic reactions. So, liquid oxygen is dangerous to handle, in general.

All this doesn't mean your space-faring civilization is going to be impossible tho. We have managed to store LOX and LH2 safely somehow, and we have actually sent men to the moon properly. However, since the problem of landing rockets on each planet is still a fiendishly difficult task to accomplish, it will take a very long time.

My final reliable answer: 9000+ years or so.

  • $\begingroup$ I concur. Then... there's the issue of manned bases on all the planets - including gas and ice giants?? Not to mention Mercury. $\endgroup$ Jun 17 at 8:18

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