The Founders arrived in several waves on the moon over a period of eight years. The first to go were men and women in good physical condition, many with technical skills, for restoring the remains of the former moon base and expanding it. Conditions were harsh: space suits had to be worn under all circumstances in the early months, then to work outside the small controlled area for more than a year more. Prolonged activity in low gravity led to many physical problems; most workers had to return to earth for rehabilitation.
At the same, work on earth had shifted from research to production of space freighters and parts for the new moon base. Materials were often difficult to come by; eight expeditions were sent out to seek and cannibalize abandoned structures and machines. One expedition never returned; two were attacked and suffered heavy losses; individuals in all the expeditions suffered from radiation and exposure to the harsh climate.
The last freighter left earth more than sixty-one years after the Icelandic project had begun. Earth was by that time mostly depopulated, with large areas toxic and/or dangerously radioactive. Communications beyond the area of the project were poor and erratic. From time to time, radio communications were received that appeared to have come from isolated, often distant groups. These decreased over time. Communications by other means, largely some form of inter-connected computers, had ended years before as energy production had declined, then stopped.
It was believed that even the Icelandic atmosphere would become too toxic for human life within a decade. Nonetheless, the Stayers refused to leave.
No communications with the Icelandic base were maintained once the last group of Founders had reached the moon. That silence was decided by the very first referendum, having been the subject of the very first General Colloquium. Such signals as were received were not responded to. By the time that the last of the Founders died, no earth-sourced communications had been intercepted for many years.
The first three hundred years after arrival on the moon were spent in expanding the living space there: doming ever-increasing areas and providing the domed space with breathable atmosphere, providing artificial gravity equal to earth’s, and providing food. The last was the most critical and the most difficult; twice, the Central Colloquium had to request a referendum on going to the genetic bank to replenish the population after deaths from malnutrition. At its lowest point, the population shrank to fewer than sixteen thousand people. It recovered, however, and by the fourth century on the moon had reached a stable reproductive rate of 2.7 children per woman, counting all females of all ages.
Expansion on the moon continued through the fifth century, but problematic terrain, which rendered a great part of the moon’s light-side surface unsuitable, led to the beginning of work on an earth-orbiting satellite, SatOne, built on the joined carcasses of three asteroids and now in effect a self-sustaining artificial moon with a stable population of more than a hundred thousand. It has, however, no exploitable materials. (The asteroids were chosen because they were not worth mining, and their entire mass was needed both to support the colony and provide some degree of gravity.) SatOne is, therefore, a residential colony and is now complete. Further expansion of Outpostland could be carried out only on another body, and so, two hundred years ago, the first permanent base was started on Mars. Mars is a rich planet with its own subsurface water and thus has great potential; on the other hand, it has a harsh climate and it is months from Moonbase by freighter. Nonetheless, the completion seventy years ago of a large metals-refining complex changed Mars from a net dependent of Moonbase to a net supporter, and it now has three towns, an extended schools system with electronic-study communication with Moonbase, and a network of three thousand miles of mono-rail (twenty-one hundred miles without life-sustaining atmosphere). By decision of a referendum, higher education will be kept on Moonbase and SatOnefor the immediate future and will not be extended to Mars, whose advanced students will work at the established centers of higher learning. The long-range fifty-year projection, however, sees the creation of two more towns, more mono-rail, and two universities on Mars within that time span. The projection is for a million Outposters by then.