As you can see from my various posts on this subject, one of my "technology
bugbears" is a plausible method to establish a first "beachhead" for the coloni-
zation of a water world without any land, a first base where the colonists can
start their project and begin to build the basic infrastructure (e.g. habitats, ve-
hicles, etc.) required by the colony.
This is made a little more difficult by the facts that my setting uses a compara-
tively "hard" science fiction technology, without gravitics and similar "magical"
technologies, and preferably also a "low cost approach" which makes it possible
for a group of private citizens to finance the project without much help from a
government or a corporation.
My previous ideas for a solution of the problem tended to be rather expensive,
mainly because I wanted to land a complete floating base in one piece, either
as the payload of a "dead glider" or with a spacecraft able to land on water -
and to transport such a base in one piece or as a number of easily assembled
and therefore rather big parts would require a lot of expensive cargo volume.
My latest approach to the problem seems to be less expensive and more easy
to handle: Temporary "Air Mattress Floaters".
Such a floater, shaped like a big raft with several "air chambers" and with so-
me keels to stabilize it, would consist of a "hull" made of a heat and flame re-
sistant metallic foil. It would be transported and deployed "folded up", as the
payload of an orbital drop package consisting of a reentry shell and some pa-
After landing on the ocean surface the orbital drop package would release the
"air mattress", and an automatic system would use pressured air to unfold the
floater and bring it into its final shape. Then the system would fill the cham-
bers of the floater with an aerogel-like foam, and once this foam has harde-
ned the floater would be ready for the landing of a VTOL spaceplane or Roton
with the first group of colonists and the construction materials and parts requi-
red to start the colony project.
Such an "air mattress floater" would probably only survive a small number of
landings and take offs of VTOL spaceplanes or Rotons, but I think it could sur-
vive long enough to serve as a temporary "construction site" for a more perma-
nent interface facility for the transport of personnel and supplies from the pla-
net's orbit to the planet's ocean surface.
Well, that is the basic idea - but could it work and does it make sense ?
Thank you very much for your comments and ideas.