I Want a Wagon


I want a wagon. It needs to be protected from harsh conditions such as storms and extreme temperatures and exposure. It needs to have dependable, sturdy and maintainable propulsion. The propulsion needs to be able to take advantage of the terrain for sustainment and replenishment. In some cases, there will be an expectation that refueling stations will be established along the common route, and that here, too, a source of commerce may spring.

The wagon needs to be logically constructed to be able to carry both people and goods, and it must be designed to last, as it will be expected to be in service for many trips, and many years. While the materials for its construction may be obtained via a home base, it should be expected to be maintained along the route and that parts could be fashioned from various common materials at any of its destinations. One should also expect that there will be a commonality of tools, processes and standards to facilitate its maintenance, as supporting and growing commerce must occupy the lion’s share of its activity.

The people will have to be hardy, flexible and multitalented. They must be agreeable and ready to work alone, or in teams, and often with others who are from faraway lands, have strange customs and perhaps speak different languages. They will need to establish and maintain ties with their roots, but they also must be able to accept their independence, as far-away outposts often become their own nation-states either through time or circumstance. This independence is important and, upon proper reflection, it is the intrinsic “driver” to the activity overall.

The people must be patient, but positive. They must have a vision for the long term and a sense of building for the future. They are not dreaming of what they want to do — they already know that they are doing it. Their dreams are kept for what their descendants and followers will do, based on what they will create.

The goods have to be of high quality and designed to help people construct and maintain their future habitat, but they should also be comprised of the necessary tools to establish and foster commerce. There should be an expectation to provide goods to both external and internal customers, and that eventually the inhabitants will be able to fashion their own goods or at least establish a mutually beneficial trading relationship with external suppliers and partners.

Services will also be necessary in order to support the activities of the various workers and associated enterprises — many of these services will not seem so different from those available Earth-side. Here, as the community grows, an aspect of redundancy and continual educational turnover must be instituted to ensure the availability of essential services, and also to ensure that all resources, including human, are optimized for their expected duration.

The habitat must be carefully chosen and logically constructed to shelter the inhabitants and future guests and customers. Here, too, a sense of the long term must be fostered — something great deserves a strong foundation. The benefits of science, invention and earlier exploration will permit the engineers to leverage the local terrain and its features to the advantage of the habitat. Careful consideration must be given to exploiting the natural resources while also ensuring lines of communication and commerce are sustainable, as both persistence and growth are necessary attributes to the enterprise.

It is, to me, unfortunate that so much of our progress to date and potential for the future have been held hostage by terrestrial challenges, issues and problems. These things do need to be settled, but not at the cost of sacrificing our intrinsic need to expand. This expansion is not just for the sake of expansion, but to fulfill real needs in the development of our various societies — otherwise, why do villages become towns, and towns become cities?

The path to the future has already been established by those before us who have had to travel long distances, often carrying what they needed to survive, and experiencing untold hardships and surprises. And yet their efforts resulted in nascent communities taking root, building and growing. Self-interest is surely difficult to overcome, as we are all afflicted with it, but our true leaders should be able take proper stock of what must be done. All I am asking for is a wagon.


We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

— President John F. Kennedy


Wayne A. Ellis is an independent aerospace and defense consultant with AppSpace Solutions Inc., and is a board member of the Canadian Space Society.