Thanks to the tireless work of the scientific community, most people with access to the Internet know that the human race is now witnessing one of the fastest planetary extinction events in the whole of the history of our Earth. We are stood at the precipice, and if the human race is to survive to continue to evolve, we must colonize space and begin making use of the resources there, including getting unrestricted access to the only viable major renewable energy resource available to us: solar power collected in space. The following article is a starting view of how open sourcing the entire field of space colonization could work. It is, by its very nature, open to improvement at all times.
Present day problems
Fossil and nuclear fuels are running out, and they cause pollution problems in any case. Climate change (anthropogenic or otherwise) is already causing the human race serious problems. Further, there are a multitude of actual or possible extinction events just queuing up to exterminate the human race.
And, perhaps the greatest threat to future human evolution, as argued in the anti-congestion argument, global overpopulation may cause the Human race to reverse-evolve into a non-extelligent apelike condition.
We need more baskets.
The only way we can get the human race established in local space before all our cheap energy has run out is if many more people than are currently employed by the space agencies of the world, people from many different backgrounds, can come together to work on space colonization projects in concert; maximizing the use of our Earthbound energy resources while we still have them.
Space colonization is the solution
Once we have established (or at least begun to seriously establish) the human race in local space, we will have unrestricted access to solar power that can be transmitted back to Earth, and which will last for the safe remainder of the Sun's lifetime. Further, with extraterrestrial colonies in local space, if something bad happens to one of our baskets, there will still be a human civilization that can continue to evolve elsewhere. In addition, as a fully space faring race we will be able to protect ourselves from rogue asteroids and comets that otherwise might impact our civilization.
The idea of open source space colonization is to provide a central online forum that is continually advertised through many different media where people can contribute their services and work-time to space colonization subjects that interest them, and further, to be an organisational tool that will allow people to meet in the real world to begin constructing the machines that we will need if the colonization of space is to succeed while we are at what may be the only stage of evolution where we have that capability.
How can this work?
Technology is on an exponential upward curve, and with the recent advent of cloud computing technology it is now possible for many more people than at any time in history to come together to contribute their knowledge, skills and work-time to the design phase of a project. The Wikipedia article on cloud computing states that there are both political and legal issues because of the cross-border nature of this new technology that need to be resolved, however most of those are related to acts of terrorism, and will not apply to genuine scientific endeavour in pursuit of solutions to the global climate and energy crises to the year 2050.
In any major project there are three distinct phases: design, building (including testing) and operation. In terms of space exploration most of the hard work has already been done (e.g. designing launch vehicles to space, and gyroscopes and navigation systems that allow spacecraft to know where they are and to orient themselves). In terms of space-based solar power, John Mankins, a long time advocate of space solar power, proved in May 2008 that this technology is indeed capable of transmitting power over the distances required to collect energy in orbit of the Earth and then send it to receivers on the ground, but what is needed now is an actual prototype orbital power plant to be designed and sent into orbit for testing. Finally, in terms of self-sufficient human colonization of space, plans for how we could go about this have been mooted, but nothing serious has ever been prototyped or tested.
This article is still under construction...