Welcome to Making New Worlds, a podcast about the ethical issues of human settlements in space. Here’s a quick trailer to give you a taste of the kinds of questions the podcast will explore. Please share far and wide, and stay tuned! Episodes will be released on iTunes every Wednesday morning starting next week, November 15.

Transcript for this episode below.

This is Making New Worlds.

Imagine this: You’re strapped into a spaceship that left Earth months ago. You’re nervous, but excited. You and your family said goodbye to everything you knew to start this adventure and now you’ve finally reached your destination. You’re about to set foot on your new home: another planet. You and the other settlers on your ship are ready to start a brand new civilization, the next step in human history.

But… what will that civilization look like? Who will be in charge? How do property rights work on another planet? What about the economy? Will you use money? What if new settlers arrive from Earth and want to do things differently? What if someone wants to go back to Earth? How will you make sure that everyone is treated fairly? Maybe you should have figured this out before you left Earth.

This future is coming at us fast. Serious people are finally making plans to take us beyond the Earth for good. If you listen to the men and women working in the New Space industries, you’ll hear excitement and dreams, but you’ll also hear concrete plans, numbers, details. We aren’t just dreaming about building homes on other planets anymore. People are already drawing up the blueprints, raising the money, testing the rockets. The question is no longer, “Can we settle space?” but “How best can we do it?”

But settling new worlds isn’t just a matter of rockets and spacesuits and figuring out how to grow potatoes in Martian soil. This undertaking means building new communities from scratch, communities with their own laws and struggles and complications. And if you remember your history classes, every time humans have set out to create new settlements and communities and nations in the past, we’ve made mistakes. People get taken advantage of, they get hurt, they get killed. It’s too late to ask “Should we settle space?” That ship has sailed, and the rockets will follow soon. But there’s still time to talk about how we should do it. Space settlers in the near future will have an amazing opportunity: the chance to shape the structure and culture of a new world. Now is our chance to pause for a moment and talk about how we can learn from the mistakes of our past and make sure that we’re leaving our children with worlds where everyone can thrive.

I’m Erika Nesvold, a Ph.D. astrophysicist and a lifelong space enthusiast. Like a lot of people, I want us to go to space and expand our civilization beyond the Earth. But I want us to do it right this time. In this podcast, I’ll be talking with experts in the fields of space exploration, history, and ethics, to explore some of the biggest questions about how to settle space in an ethical way.

This is a conversation we all need to have, not just the people building the rockets. I hope you’ll join us. Stay tuned.

This has been Making New Worlds, a podcast by me, Erika Nesvold. If you’d like more information, you can visit our Facebook page at, or hit us up on Twitter @makingnewworlds. Our intro and outtro music is by Herr Doktor. Thanks for joining us!