Venus Is Not For Colonisation – Here’s Why.

The space race of the modern era is shaping up to be something revolutionary, on the levels of the Apollo era.  Companies like SpaceX are already working on taking tourists to the ISS, in the near future, and on taking settlers to Mars.  SpaceX in particular plan to take people using the mighty BFR Rocket. Elon Musk has delivered talks on SpaceX’s plans to take paying humans into space and his Mars colony goals, but some people argue:  “Why Not Venus?”

1 – Why Venus?

To begin, I am going to argue for Venus, and deliver some arguments as to why we should go to Venus, over Mars.  These aren’t actual opinions, more suggestions. I remain a strong believer that Mars is the place to go, in the long run – with the Moon being a good place to colonise first, just so we have practice.

Venus is notable for it being a similar size to our home planet, which is useful because it means that Venus has a similar gravity to Earth (8.87m/s^2 – Venus, 9.807 m/s^2 – Earth.)  This would mean that just being on Venus would not be all that dissimilar from standing on Earth if you didn’t take into account the extreme environments.

Another reason to colonise Venus is that it would force better technology.  If something seems impossible, and you attempt it – you are going to get better technology from the result, no matter whether your initial goal ends up in failure or success.  Just look at the Moon landings, we came out of the space race with significantly better technology than before, because the Governments involved were able to push funding, to push innovation, really quickly.  I am a strong believer that if the advancement in space flight technology had been kept at the same rate, you would probably be reading this on some other planet in the Solar System. A Venus colonisation project would be so difficult, we would have to put the world’s greatest minds to work on it, and we would come out of it with the ability to do so many more great things.  

2 – Why Not Venus?

Now I am going to dwell on why we should not choose Venus.  This is just my opinion, and I am interested to see what you have to argue down in the comments below.  I want to see the debate on this topic!

To begin, Venus has a very thick atmosphere, which would crush you, if you were on the surface.   Obviously, many people are quick to suggest that we could build our colonies above the sky of Venus, which is a very valid point – but why would you build special hovering craft, which would take masses of fuel – at least with my current understanding.  Why develop a brand new system of hovering above the clouds of Venus, along with life support and the rest of the required technology, when you can just develop the life support and the rest of the required technology and not a way to stay above the clouds?  Above this, what if one of the engines failed on your habitat, assuming you used engines? Even if you used massive support structures, it would be unrealistic – and they would be easily eroded by the harsh atmosphere of Venus. In honesty, I just don’t personally see how you could get your base onto Venus in the first place.

Secondly, Venus is closer to the Sun than Earth, which is not ideal for our purpose.  The idea of colonising Mars, at least in my mind, is that we are further away from the Sun, and have a gateway to get to the outer planets.   It takes less Delta-V to get from Mars to Jupiter Orbit, than from Earth to Jupiter Orbit. On Venus, it would take a significantly more Delta-V compared to Mars or Earth, to even get into Orbit, due to the immensely thick atmosphere.  Your craft would have to be unbelievably resistant and powerful to withstand such extreme conditions. If you were able to manufacture a rocket on Mars, somehow, you could get to the outer Solar System much easier than if you were to do so on Venus, or Earth – for that matter.  

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am not saying we should never colonise Venus.  I think it would be a great thing to tackle as a species. My opinion is that we should have a practice run with other planets first.  In hindsight, human safety is key, and no matter what technology we have – it is safer to colonise the Moon and Mars, before we attempt Venus.  I think the whole idea of colonising other planets is that there is a human presence in the Universe for much longer than there will be with us staying on this planet, which is quickly dying – whether you agree with that or not.  We need to get off of Earth quickly, and to do that – it is better to colonise a place for which is easier, initially, and that we can realistically colonise in the next 50 or so years.

Also, in the far, far future – when the time rolls around that the Sun begins to expand, we want to be as far away from it as possible – if we are even alive by that point.  By then, I’d expect us to be thriving in the solar system, not just on one planet – which I don’t think is too unrealistic as we have about 7.6 Billion years. Do I think we will still be a species by then?  Yes, and no. If we get off of Earth in the next 100 years, and colonise another planet, we will be well on our way to having some form of ourselves in that late solar system, however – if we don’t, I have not the slightest of hope for us being around at that point in time.  Obviously, there is still a low chance of us being around by then even if we do thrive, but I hold hopes that some form of humans, probably some unrecognisable, evolved version of ourselves, will be around to see that time period, whether we will last much longer – I have no idea, but with sheer willpower, and cooperation, we can most likely survive long enough to make our mark on the solar system, and I hope this starts soon.  We are already taking large steps to this common goal. So, should we colonise Venus? We should colonise everywhere, but let’s go with Mars first.

Footnote:  As we are on the topic of Space, I would like to give a shout out to a couple of really cool apps, for those interested in Space and watching launches.  There are two apps: SpaceX Now and Space Launch Now, which both give you specific and up-to-date times on launches. SpaceX Now even sends you news about SpaceX!  This is not sponsored, these are just a couple of apps that I personally use, and love, to keep up to date with this stuff. They both have Discord servers, with awesome communities, where you can learn everything.  I’ve spent the most time in the SpaceX Now Discord, and I know the people there are excellent, and the same applies for the rest of the space-enthusiast community.

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