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Setting up colonies

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:16 pm
by milt69466
I'm working on some background fluff for a relatively new colony on a planet with patchy forests and large desserts in between. So my question is, how long does it take to establish a semi-stable colony?

Re: Setting up colonies

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:37 pm
by gusindor
I can't give exact times, but it could spring up really hutching suddenly. If there's enough resources available at the landing site, you could have a working settlement in about as much time as it takes everybody to pitch their tents. Setting up infrastructure, actual buildings, and a government could take a bit longer, but with enough preparation, the right technology and a hospitable environment, colonization could be done in a few hectic weeks. Imagine boom towns during the Gold Rush, or the early pilgrim settlements in New England.

Of course, on a harsh or barren world, it could take a lot longer. But if it's going to be a huge ordeal they'd need a really good reason for even being there in the first place.

Re: Setting up colonies

PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:06 am
by Soren
Depends on your definition of 'semi-stable'. I imagine standards drop fast when all you care about is extracting your unobtanium from the planet. I'm going to assume something like 'corpses in the street are rare and we can survive without imports for a couple of months'.

How long probably depends on the relative value of the resources you're extracting to pay for development and how much of the profits get reinvested in local infrastructure. You can go from nothing to a town (a small town - dirt roads and not much plumbing) in a week or two with the right equipment, or a large town if you're using the equivalent of Quonset huts (cut an empty propellant tank in two, maybe?) and portable power generators and water purification. Initial settlements are probably run at a loss for about five to ten years? After that there's probably still a lot of stuff to buy - you want to go from buying factory goods to buying factories to building your own factories* as fast as possible.

Terraforming - we've more or less proposed magic terraforming, so say it takes seventy, eighty years? But it's pricey. You'd want to start it before you settled the place, if you could.

*This sounds much easier than it is. Remember that if it's cheap enough to ship you bulk hardware, it's even cheaper to sell you the same volume of finished goods at a modest** markup. Teach a man to fish, and he'll fend for himself, sell a man a fish, and he'll be back to buy another fish tomorrow.
**May not be modest at all.