NASA’s Efforts Of Space Colonization: Pros And Cons


It is vital to note that with the recent advancements in astrophysics, aerospace engineering, and astronomy, the topic of human space colonization is no longer considered far-fetched but rather a realistic goal. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is actively working on the project of Mars colonization. However, there are concerns about the benefits of space exploration and colonization in terms of NASA’s purpose, the current state of the Earth, as well as habitability of the destinations. To conduct a comprehensive analysis of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s proactive interest in space colonization, particularly Mars colonization, it is critical to review evidence on the subject. Although the concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of a space colony within the context of space colonization efforts by NASA are valid, the endeavor itself is economically viable.

NASA and Mission

Space exploration is one of the main elements of NASA’s mission, but space colonization is not. To properly inform on the controversy surrounding the subject, it is critical to understand the purpose of NASA as an organization. It is stated that NASA “is the United States government agency responsible for U.S. space exploration, space technology, Earth and space science, and aeronautics research … new frontiers, discovering new knowledge, and developing new technology” (General Services Administration & the Office of Management and Budget, 2021, para. 2). The agency is the most competent organization is making an effort a possibility since it is highly aware of how to ensure long-term habitability due to years of running the International Space Station (NASA, 2021a). It is reported that “NASA is seeking applicants for participation as a crew member during the first one-year analog mission in a habitat to simulate life on a distant world” (NASA, 2021b, para. 1). In other words, it is not as evident whether or not space colonization falls within NASA’s key objectives.

Space Colonization: Proponent View

It should be noted that Mars colonization is the biggest space colonization goal of NASA. However, the proponents of colonization see a great deal of economic value since the red planet has key resources, such as minerals and metals, to sustain global economic growth. It is stated that “while Mars may lack any cash material directly exportable to Earth, its orbital elements and other physical parameters give it a unique positional advantage” (Zubrin, 2018, p. 159). In other words, the experts acknowledge that transporting these goods might not be economically viable in the short term, but its long-term economic potential cannot be overstated. It is further elaborated that the planet “will allow it to act as a keystone, supporting extractive activities in the asteroid belt and elsewhere in the solar system” (Zubrin, 2018, p. 159). Therefore, the asteroid belt is a more economically appealing resource target since transporting materials from them is easier due to lower gravity and more abundance. Mars and space colonization will allow people to have a transportation hub closer to the asteroid belt, making it more realizable.

The proponents of the space colonization endeavors of NASA consider that the long-term sustainability of the Mars colony is possible and can be solved with engineering means. NASA’s plan includes the creation of a habitable environment on the Moon to test its propositions. It is stated that “NASA’s plan about creating a livable environment on Moon before starting off the Martian mission is a wise approach towards understanding the structural behavior of housing in extra-terrestrial conditions” (Sartipi et al., 2020, p. 6). In other words, the buildings will be tested practically in an even harsher environment of the Moon implemented into the colonization process. In addition, the engineers suggest that “additive manufacturing is the most viable construction technology in terms of productivity, speed, and cost” (Sartipi et al., 2020, p. 6). There are cost-efficient and effective methods of ensuring the long-term habitability of a space colony.

Space Colonization: Opponent View

The opponents of long-term sustainability consider this issue as more intricate and multifaceted since the longitudinal prospects of a society depend on its social structure as well. For example, it is stated that “limiting crew selection to able-bodied candidates represents a systematic disadvantage to the colony” (Wells-Jensen et al., 2019, p. 50). Thus, the claim is that a space colony needs to be founded on core principles of equality, diversity, and sustainability, where a failure to establish these pillars will lead to a social collapse, cooperation, and injustice. The second major issue of NASA’s space colonization efforts is the long-term sustainability of the space colony since a group or community of settlers will have to live and build a civilization on Mars.

One side claims that it is a sole engineering problem, which can be solved even with the use of existing frameworks. However, the opposing side claims that long-term sustainability is not solely reliant on engineering achievements but the social structure as well. In addition, the opponents of the economic viability of space colonization, including Mars, claim that the challenge is far more complex and practically impossible to achieve. It is stated that “there are possibly a couple of options strongly affected by not-predictable environmental and social constraints” (Wojtowicz & Szocik, 2021, p. 120619). The environment of Mars is hostile, which can prevent it from ever becoming a transportation hub in the first place. In addition, the asteroid belt is not fully studied to assert that there is economic value in doing so. However, the opponents claim the space colony might not have the necessary social structure to ensure economic benefit as well. It is stated that the plausible and probable political system of a future colony on Mars is likely to be either technocracy or direct democracy (Wojtowicz & Szocik, 2021). It shows the inapplicability of the existing political system in such an environment.


In conclusion, NASA’s active efforts in space colonization are based on evidence and economically viable, but the concerns on the long-term sustainability aspects are valid as well. There is strong support regarding economic viability as well as the long-term habitability of Mars, which is the prime focus of the agency in terms of space colonization plans. However, one should be aware that the current processes can be viewed as discriminatory, which can hinder diversity and inclusion in a new colony. In addition, a constitutional democracy might be challenging to implement and enforce in a colony. Thus, NASA is putting efforts into advancing space colonization by using its existing competencies. However, the controversy is whether it is possible to create habitability in timescales of colonization. In addition, a question might emerge if the endeavor is adherent to the agency’s mission.


General Services Administration & the Office of Management and Budget. (2021). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Web.

NASA. (2021a). Space colonization. Web.

NASA. (2021b). NASA is recruiting for yearlong simulated mars mission. Web.

Sartipi, F., Palaskar, K., Ergin, A., & Rajakaruna, U. (2020). Viable construction technology for habitation on Mars: Fused deposition modelling. Journal of Construction Materials, 1(2), 1-7. Web.

Wells-Jensen, S., Miele, J. A., & Bohney, B. (2019). An alternate vision for colonization. Futures, 110, 50-53. Web.

Wojtowicz, T., & Szocik, K. (2021). Democracy or what? Political system on the planet Mars after its colonization. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 166, 120619.

Zubrin, R. (2018). The economic viability of mars colonization. In T. James (Ed.), Deep space commodities: Exploration, production and trading (pp. 159–180). Palgrave Macmillan.