"Something made you, Cutie," pointed out Powell. "You admit yourself that your memory seems to spring full-grown from the absolute blankness of a week ago. I'm giving you the explanation. Donovan and I put you together from the parts shipped us." Cutie gazed upon his long, supple fingers in an oddly human attitude of mystification. "It seems to me that there should be a more satisfactory explanation than that. For you to make me seems improbable."In R. Cordwainer Smith's "Think Blue, Count Two," he specifies that the massive solar sails which people use to sail across the universe were constructed in the vaccuum:
Before the great ships whispered between the stars by means of planoforming, people had to fly from star to star with immense sails - huge films assembled in space on long, rigid, coldproof rigging.Real-life applications: So what are the real-life applications of the idea of building in space? We've already proved we can put together a space station in orbit, but we're not likely to be building dozens of those any time soon. It's entirely possible that more robots like Dextre, with complex and multi-jointed arms, will be built in space to handle satellites and space junk. We're definitely not likely to be building space elevators, Dyson Spheres or orbital stations any time soon. But here are a few other ideas that are being batted around for big space construction projects. Some of them relate to mega-environmentalism. Some people claim we can halt global warming in its tracks by building mega-structures, such as space mirrors, or giant nanofiber "sun shades," in orbit. These would deflect some of the sunlight reaching Earth, and they'd need to be constructed in space. Also, a mooted solar power satellite, which would collect solar energy from orbit and beam it back to Earth, would almost certainly need to be constructed in orbit. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency wants to have one of these up and running by 2030. Also, when we get around to building long-range spaceships to explore or colonize outside our solar system, we'll have to build them in space. Some observers argue that these large ships could be constructed using some Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) as raw materials and maybe also as a shell for human habitats. But a lot sooner than that, big and expensive satellites may be constructed in orbit, to save on launching costs. Last year, some small Japanese "spider robots" successfully crawled out along a net linking three satellites in orbit. They only functioned for a short time, but scientists saw the test as an important proof of concept. In a few years, we could be launching big antennas and solar panels into space in pieces, using small, cheap rockets. And then tiny robots could assemble them in space. So for the sake of the human race, let's hope J.J. Abrams' Trek movie comes down on the side of the Enterprise having been built in orbit. Our future as a species may depend on getting people used to the idea of large-scale outer space construction.