-Z- (z@gundam.com)
Sun, 18 Feb 2001 22:45:22 -0800


> Seems to me that the colonies would have a big advantage in terms of
> technology and economic materiel. Although that seems odd, I'd think Earth
> would have equivalent things to offer. Obviously foodstuffs and the like
> would be important for trade, as you can only grow so much in the limited
> space there was on the colonies (and I don't recall ever seeing anything
> about farming on the moon, heheh, brings new meaning to "cow jumped over the
> moon"), but it just seems that there could be more. Manufactured goods,
> perhaps? The Earth has the advantage of already established and
> comparatively large manufacturing capabilities, I think.
>
> Anybody?

Plastics, petrochemicals and just about anything made of hydrocarbons -- very
rare in space, even in Class C (carbonaceous chondritic) asteroids and comets.

Wood and wood byproducts -- yes, you can grow trees in the colonies, but not
easily, as there's not enough soil for extensive root systems, idyllic artist's
concepts notwithstanding.

Nitrogen and nitrates -- Earth's atmosphere is 70% nitrogen, but you have to go
all the way out to the Saturnian moon Titan to find it. Pluto is the only other
source.

In general, the colonies would be able to manufacture just about anything for
which they could get or synthesize the raw materials, with the additional
advantage of being able to adjust the "gravity" from near-zero to multiple g
simply by moving the factory nearer or farther from the axis of rotation. It's
the raw materials that would be in short supply, especially complex organics and
petroleum, which result from millennia of biological and geochemical
interaction. The colonies can only tap those compounds that it produces in
excess of that needed to sustain their closed ecosystems.

-Z-

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