The first man on the moon has died, and pretty soon the last men on the moon will be dead also.
where are the space settlements? By the year 2000, we were supposed to have flying cars, space settlements, and cities that looked like this:
There is no technological obstacle to building big high efficiency free electron lasers that operate in the near infrared. These are the lasers that were supposed to be built for Reagan’s star wars initiative. They would be able to push rockets into space as well as blast them out of space. The precision and power you need to destroy a space vehicle at great distance is similar to the precision and power needed to power it from a great distance. A laser rocket can get a person plus some survival equipment into near earth orbit for about the same energy cost as a household uses in year. A laser rocket would be a single stage to orbit, thus would fly back and forth between orbit and the earth’s surface like a commercial airliner.
Plasma drives cannot be used to get off earth, but once in orbit, plasma drives could make the entire solar system accessible at reasonable reaction mass cost, and energy in space is nearly free.
So technology that we could have, technology that we know in principle how to build with reasonable amounts of energy and materials, had we the will and competence, could have made entry to space affordable to ordinary individuals and businesses. There is no big technological obstacle to mining the asteroids for precious metals and such like, and then mining the rings of Saturn for volatiles to support the miners mining precious metals with air, water, and reaction mass.
Autogyros are technologically flying cars.
The only problem is that they are not legally flying cars. And if we had the current regulatory regime when people first started building cars, cars would never have become practical either.
You cannot legally put a foldback roof on your garage similar to the foldback door in front, and fly from your house in the suburbs to the parking lot at your place of work, even though physically there is nothing stopping an autogyro from doing that.
Autogyros capable of vertical or nearly vertical landing and takeoff can be built and operated for the price of an expensive car, and would get a whole lot cheaper if lots more people purchased them, but the regulatory burden makes them only useful in the middle of nowhere. There is no technological obstacle to well off people being able to fly to work and shop and visit friends.When the engine fails, or the driver falls asleep, an autogyro goes into a nearly vertical landing slow enough to walk away from. Unlike every other flying vehicle we have built, we can trust the usual idiots to drive and maintain an autogyro. But in practice, the main demand for autogyros is wealthy ranchers who use them to fly around their ranch – since in practice they can only legally fly from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere.
If we are capable of settling space, why have we not already settled Antarctica?
Because we were not allowed to settle Antarctica. The antarctic treaty was agreed to because governments feared that the settlement of Antarctica was about to begin, and they decided to put a stop to it, as they similarly put a stop to the settlement of Spitzbergen (the islands of the Arctic), in which settlement had already begun. Settlement of Spitzbergen and Antarctica would have led to the development of environment suits that would have been precursors of space suits, and housing that would have been the precursor of space habitats.
People have stopped settling Spitzbergen, because they cannot buy land, even though it is 99.99% empty. Governments claimed all the land that was as yet unsettled, and refuse to let anyone else have any. Land prices are, therefore, extraordinarily high, despite it being the middle of nowhere. The high price of the tiny amount of land that was settled by pioneers before governments clamped down reveals a large frustrated demand to settle the Spitzbergen islands.
People settled Spitzbergen because there was energy in the form of coal, and food in the form of fish, seals, and whales. Try that today in Antarctica. Governments will not let you.