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Related to this question, but hopefully more narrow and therefore has an answer: Are there any other options for human settlements in the solar system other than Mars?

NASA has announced that it has a plan to colonize Mars by 2030: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/14/nasa-planning-earth-independent-mars-colony-by-2030s/#ifrndnloc

Assuming that is a success, what is the next most likely target (for NASA or other organizations/countries) to be pursued for independent, permanent, human settlement in space?

For the sake of argument, let's consider independent to be defined as a state in which getting cut off from Earth for a 5 year period would not be fatal to everyone in the settlement.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩, Nathan Tuggy, Hohmannfan, Andy, GdD May 18 '16 at 9:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Being able to survive for 5 years cut off from earth? It is unlikely Mars will be colonized this century much less by 2030. $\endgroup$ – HopDavid May 18 '16 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid I must agree with you @HopDavid. However, assuming that someday humans WILL have a permanent extraterrestrial settlement, regardless of when that occurs, what will likely be the second successful colonization, assuming that Mars is the first? That's the goal of my question. Do you think I should revise my question so that it's more direct? $\endgroup$ – Projski May 18 '16 at 4:31
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    $\begingroup$ @HopDavid: One-way-trip with later resupply missions is not nearly as unlikely as a visit there. We're still a way from being able to establish a fully self-sufficient base, but one that could exist on sporadic resupplies, sustainable in 90%, is pretty viable. $\endgroup$ – SF. May 18 '16 at 8:26
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I think the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter could be the next place to be settled by humans.

The reason I think it could be settled next is because I think asteroid mining could become the next thing to decrease costs in building for space travel.

And the reason I think it would need to be settled is because I don't think you would have the gravity assist that you could for traveling to planets or moons. So you would probably need to use ion propulsion to speed up and slow down and that I think that would take longer.

But this is probably looking at what is going to be possible in 50 to 100 years, so changes in technology will probably make a big difference in where we end up.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. Do you also have any source information that you could cite, any links to provide? I'm curious as to whether any other nations have begun moving toward this goal. I vaguely recall a Dr. McKay from NASA Ames giving a presentation about using an asteroid for radiation shielding to transport humans to Mars, but I don't have any source on that, it was many years ago. I appreciate anything you can add to support your answer. Thanks again! $\endgroup$ – Projski May 18 '16 at 4:35
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I would put my bet on one of Saturns moons, because The saturnian radiation belts are generally much weaker than those of Jupiter. The infrastructure for colonizing Mars in a way you imagine requires some very strong rocketry (NTR or the like). If we have such an infrastructure, Saturn is not that far away anymore. The reason to go there in the first place might be the abundance of hydrogen, helium and even hydrocarbons.

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Technically, the most doable would be a solar powered space station which recycles its resources well. It is almost being done already.

To motivate it, maybe near the Sun to get more energy. It could pass by Mercury once a month or two if in retrograde or polar solar orbit, for the view, for the gravity assist options and maybe to catch resources launched robotically from Mercurius' cool shadowed poles. Solar electric propulsion would have seven times more power there to help with the delta v's. Science objectives could be Mercury, heliophysics, disintegrating sun grazing comets, microgravity. It would be a great next step towards interplanetary human spaceflight in general. Maybe it could be helpful for sending huge solar sails very close to the Sun to accelerate small payloads to extreme speeds. Such Krafft Ehricke trajectories are hard to reach from Earth, going via Jupiter to lose speed enough to fall inwards the Sun. Maybe such sails could be manufactured from Mercury's resources and the station could over the years achieve an orbit from where they are easier to launch? Hey, it's hard to motivate any human stay in space, one has to brainstorm it. The ISS is about to be replaced anyway, so why not do it in a big way?

And it could save the world! :-) https://bokunosekai.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sunshine.jpg

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