GAILE provides one-way transportation for pioneers from Earth to the colonial planets. The trip across the vast interstellar distances is made in Planck’s torch-driven starships of modular design. The nature of the ships and their accommodations are described in detail in Interstellar Transportation and Communication. The ships employ space warp to shorten travel time, but nevertheless, voyages appear to travelers to take several months.
The huge cost of interstellar transport dictates that pioneers keep personal possessions to a minimum. Clothing, furniture, appliances, robots, and vehicles are generally not transported; instead they will be created from the basic materials of the colony planet. Credit, available to all new arrivals, enables them to set up housekeeping and to pay expenses until they have found work. Personal mementoes, special medical apparatus, and art objects may be brought, but a five kilogram per person limit is strictly enforced. During the early years of a colony’s development, GAILE provides the basic industrial equipment necessary to the survival of a modern society.
This equipment varies from one colony to the next depending on such factors as climate, landing sites, terrain, mineral and food sources available, and the general development plan formulated by the pioneers themselves. The following is a typical list of the items GAILE might provide:
1. A gigawatt fusion power plant
2. A computer database of all Human knowledge
3. Basic seed crops for up to ten years food supply
4. Cell banks containing fertilized eggs of domestic animals
5. A bio laboratory for analysis of native life, control of disease and the development of food sources better adapted to the new environment
6. Auto mining and refining equipment for the production of industrial materials
7. Factory equipment capable of producing, on a limited basis, all forms of mechanical and electronic equipment up to and including computer master switching centers and class one robots
8. A few antigravity vehicles for local transportation of people and goods
9. Modular sections which also can serve as temporary housing for new immigrants are carried on GAILE’s starships.
With this basic equipment and the knowledge stored in their central computer, pioneers have been able to construct modern industrial societies from wilderness within 1OO years. During the first century of a colony’s development, colonists must do without many of the conveniences of 24th century Earth, such as personal robots, food autoselectors, somafields, and computer-guided air cars, but the pioneers of all the colonies to date have prospered and enjoyed healthy, happy lives building their new worlds. They have looked upon virgin plains and forests, drunk from unpolluted streams and tasted natural foods, fresh from the land. These things cannot be had on Earth at any price.
As the industries of a colony take root and grow, the supply of industrial goods from GAILE decreases and the flow of new colonists to help with the work at hand increases. Eventually the new worlds become self-sustaining, and even the temporary housing for new immigrants is no longer required. From this point onward, GAILE continues to transport new pioneers and to update the colony’s computer libraries with new information from Earth and the other GAILE members.
Interstellar travel requires immense resources. A typical starship capable of carrying 10,000 passengers costs more than 11 billion Unicredits to build, equip, and stock with supplies and fuel. One round trip to a colony world consumes fully 30 percent of this value. As the mean personal income of Earth citizens is about UCr 12,000 per year, it would take 92 years of wages from an average group of 10,000 pioneers to build one ship, and 28 years of wages just to pay their passage! And these astronomical costs don’t even include the costs of exploration or the expensive industrial equipment necessary for the new colonies. Clearly the cost of colonization cannot be borne by the pioneers themselves.
Earth’s early space exploration offered little tangible benefit in exchange for great expense. Proponents of space travel justified early explorations of the moon and the other planets of the Solar system as quests for scientific knowledge. Arguments were advanced about the benefits of “technological fallout” from space exploration, but in fact, military and political considerations provided the principal motivation for early programs. Space did soon yield some real economic benefits, first from communication and weather satellites, then later from great orbiting solar power stations and factories. Space proponents pointed to these as justification for further space exploration despite the fact that such exploration had little relevance to the current space industrialization.
The proponents won out, however, and throughout most of the first century of the space age, governments funded their own space programs to greater or lesser degrees in the name of science. By the late 2040’s, however, cost of programs for each country became so high that governments pooled their resources to form the International Council for Space Exploration (ICSE). ICSE began a space program for all people and in 2055 launched the first exploratory mission to Alpha Centauri, the star system nearest Earth. Click here for a complete Chronology of GAILE major events.
The discovery of Wyzdom in 2074 added unprecedented momentum to the space movement. Despite the planet’s lack of tangible economic benefits, it seemed somehow unthinkable to discover a fresh, new world and then ignore it. The people of crowded Earth, eager for someplace to go, launched the first Wyzdom colony with the vague hope that somehow, some good would come out of it.
Some good did. Examination of the life of Wyzdom added much to Human understanding of the general laws which govern all life by providing a comparison with Earth. Study of the stars of the Alpha Centauri system gave Humans a better understanding of Earth’s own sun and allowed them to predict its future more accurately. The opening of this new frontier provided a relief valve for the ambitious but stifled people of Earth, and offered a chance for alternative societies to develop in contrast with the densely populated and increasingly homogeneous Earth.
Yet the ICSE realized that a massive exploration and colonization program would not be financed voluntarily by the people of a crowded Earth who would not be able to go, and who would derive little benefit from it. They knew that to realize the potential of Wyzdom and worlds yet undiscovered, some way would have to be found to make space exploration pay for itself. On Earth, new territories of the past supported themselves by exporting minerals or foodstuffs, but few material items are as valuable as the cost of transporting them across interstellar distances. The principal export of the colonies had to be knowledge. And the colonies excelled in producing it.
In new worlds where needs are great and the restrictions of a crowded Earth absent, human beings demonstrate their greatest creative ability. The pioneers from Earth produce a variety of new products and processes, as well as methods for performing old tasks more efficiently. Many of these ideas can be patented, although the rights to them have little value to the inventor outside of his home planet. It is natural that first ICSE and now GAILE, which provide the communications link between the new worlds and the old, should have, as compensation for their services, the rights on Earth and the other Association planets to all patentable ideas originated in any colony. Copyrights, too, provide important sources of revenue, for people on the new planets do not confine their ideas solely to inventions, and the people of Earth have great interest in reading what the pioneers write. Finally, the vast body of knowledge collected on the colony worlds serves as an important data base for scientists in research institutions and industry. Though this data is technically public knowledge, many institutions and individuals pay handsome fees to GAILE for the privilege of accessing their computer data banks.
Patent royalties and sale of information have not generated enough revenue to pay all the costs of GAILE’s program to date, but the flow of money from ideas developed on the older colonies is substantial and meets about 50 percent of current expenses. As in all long-term investments, the bulk of the profits come late in the cycle. The earliest three colonies are just entering their most productive period, and GAILE economists predict that during the next three centuries they will return 10,000 times the amount GAILE has invested in them. By then, Earth’s development probably will have expanded to several dozen planets, and many of the older colonies may be shouldering the burden of space exploration by building and operating their own starships.
Until that time, however, GAILE must continue to borrow part of its funds from the people of Earth and therefore must exercise great care in conserving resources expended by the planet settlement program. GAILE attempts to conserve in three basic ways:
1. Transportation of goods is limited to the barest essentials, and the colonial development plan is carefully built around reducing the bulk and mass of the items transported.
2. GAILE chooses pioneers who will best benefit the colonies and the people of Earth.
3. All Earthly possessions of pioneers become the property of GAILE to partially compensate the cost of passage. In cases of extreme need, however, GAILE may waive its claim to property and allow it to be passed on to immediate family members.
GAILE does not like to rely heavily on the contributions of departing pioneers, for often young people and people without great wealth on Earth will work hardest to make the colony a success. With one exception (Mammon), GAILE makes no economic claims upon existing colonies, preferring to allow the colonies to conserve their resources for their development, though all colonies may be called upon to repair or resupply starships when needed.
Earth’s colonies are self-governing. Earth’s government makes no attempt to appoint a governor or to establish a constitution, and Earth levies no taxes on the pioneers. GAILE hopes that all colonies will respect the inalienable rights of intelligent individuals, and that their method of government, if any, will be democratically constituted.
To date, all colonies have lived up to these expectations. If a dictatorial tyrant did seize control of a planet, the government of Earth would probably take measures to preserve Human rights. The great potential for the people of Earth lies in the diversity and growth of Human knowledge that the colonies ultimately will supply. Humanity holds a direct interest in the free and unrestricted development of the new worlds.