Poll

Where do you think would be the best place to set up a monastery in space?

I don't think space travel is a good idea.
1 (11.1%)
I think we should send people into space, just not monks.
1 (11.1%)
Atmosphere of Venus (50km off surface)
0 (0%)
Polar region of Mercury
0 (0%)
Free-floating, inflatable space habitat
1 (11.1%)
Mars
1 (11.1%)
The Moon
1 (11.1%)
A hollowed-out asteroid
2 (22.2%)
A moon of Jupiter or Saturn (specify which one in your post)
0 (0%)
Somewhere else
2 (22.2%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Monks in Space?  (Read 493 times)

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Offline Minnesotan

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Monks in Space?
« on: October 17, 2014, 10:40:14 PM »
One thing that amazes me about the Desert Fathers and many Celtic saints is how brave and adventurous they were. St. Brendan the Navigator was said to have journeyed west on the open ocean despite not knowing for sure what was out there (or even if anything was out there). According to legend, he ended up finding America, though whether he actually did or not may never be known. One thing's for sure, they weren't scared of the unknown and weren't afraid to journey far from home.

This makes me wonder if perhaps the ideal candidates for the first space habitat might be monks? There would be many advantages to having monks, rather than laypeople, make the first serious journeys into space. These would include:

  • There are many concerns about whether it would be ethical to raise children in space, given that the spacefaring lifestyle would be forced on them. There are also questions about the safety of pregnancy and childbirth in space. Since monks are celibate, this issue would be avoided.
  • Ora et labora ("pray and work"). Monks have a strong work ethic, which would be important since maintaining a space habitat is difficult.
  • Monks' spiritual and ascetic practices make depression and homesickness less likely. Outer space is the ultimate Desert, and for centuries monks (especially Orthodox ones) have known how to thrive in environments that would drive most people into loneliness and despair.
  • Monks fast a lot, so less food would need to be shipped into (or grown in) space.
  • Monks have fewer health problems.

Of course, there are also some issues that would need to be dealt with, including:

  • The Eucharist. Depending on the size and location of the habitat, it might not be possible to grow wheat or grapes on-site.
  • Calendar. As if the dispute over Earth's calendar system wasn't thorny enough! Would there be a need to design a new calendar for Mars, Venus, etc., complete with its own liturgical cycles, or would the space colony just synchronize its observances with Earth's?
  • Jurisdictional issues. Would there be a separate jurisdiction for the space monastery, or would it be under one of Earth's jurisdictions?
  • Gravity. Some observances might be impossible to do in zero gravity. A free-floating habitat would need to be fairly large (1-5km diameter) in order to have artificial gravity (which would result from having it rotate at a certain speed).

Feel free to vote in the poll and share any other thoughts you might have on space travel in general, or space monasteries in particular.

Here's a brief run-down on the best real estate (apart from Earth) in this solar system:

  • Most of Mercury is boiling hot, but the polar regions have ice (and, presumably, liquid water at the edges of the icecaps). Mercury also has a magnetic field which protects against harmful radiation from solar wind. It is extremely dense and its surface gravity is similar to that of Mars. However, its atmosphere is thin.
  • 50km off the surface of Venus, the temperature and pressure are similar to Earth's surface. The atmosphere is all CO2, so an air-filled habitat would float like a balloon. Its surface gravity is nearly the same as Earth's. However, there is no magnetic field, and hydrogen (therefore water) is scarce.
  • Inflatable space habitats can be placed anywhere, but they need to be very large and would be hard to build.
  • All basic materials necessary for life could be mined on Mars. But it is uniformly too cold to have liquid water. The lack of a magnetic field is another drawback
  • The Moon has very little gravity (only 1/6 as much as Earth and 1/2 as much as Mars). It is also very cold and resource-poor, lacking a magnetic field. But it is the closest to Earth of all options.
  • Asteroids and burned-out comets could be hollowed out and they contain many useful materials (organic compounds, water ice, etc.) But this would be a long process.
  • Some of Jupiter and Saturn's moons are rich in natural resources, but they are far from both Earth and the Sun. Both Jupiter and Saturn have magnetic fields. Jupiter's moon Ganymede even has its own magnetic field independent of Jupiter's!
I'm not going to be posting as much on OC.Net as before. I might stop in once in a while though. But I've come to realize that real life is more important.

Offline Luke

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Re: Monks in Space?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2014, 12:58:21 PM »
They may have to go further and hit Alpha Centauri. :- :P

Offline Rhinosaur

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Re: Monks in Space?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2014, 10:57:53 PM »
A hollowed-out asteroid with a basic life-support system could very easily mimic the conditions of an ancient monastery.

Offline hecma925

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Re: Monks in Space?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2014, 11:09:06 PM »
"Order your prayer rope hand-made by monks in ZERO GRAVITY!!!"  May take 12-18 months
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Offline CopticDeacon

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Re: Monks in Space?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2014, 11:29:22 PM »
I think there would be too many distractions for them in space. It would require a church to be built as well. Plus the monks would need more education on average.  The simple monk wouldn't make the space team. If we had to I'd say either an asteroid or the moon.
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