In the 1970s Dr. Gerard O’Neill proposed a series of space habitats that would facilitate humanity becoming a spacefaring society. Since that time our knowledge and technology have advanced dramatically. In the seventies, construction would have required huge numbers of men and the resources to support them. Today the majority of the basic construction tasks can be carried out by 3D printers and robots.
Dr. O’Neill proposed mining the moon for the materials that would be needed. While this is a viable option for manufacturing and for smaller projects, building Doctor O’Neil’s Island Three-cylinder would require vast resources simply to move the tonnage required into lunar orbit.
There is a better way. The asteroid belt has all the resources needed without the penalty of lifting them from the bottom of a gravity well. Nuclear rockets, which for safety reasons cannot be used near the Earth, can shorten the trip to months instead of years. Breakthrough developments in agriculture make raising food for a large population practical. Modern computers, data storage and cutting edge genetics all dramatically change the equation making such a vast habitat practical.
Instead of taking years to build a giant shell and seal it, High Frontier Outpost would be built using modular construction. This means that from the time the first module is completed the structure would be usable as a habitat.
High Frontier Outpost is not planning to build this habitat, the resources required are far too great for one organization, but we can develop it. In the future, perhaps sooner than we think, the infrastructure to begin construction will be there. When that time comes we will be ready.