Author Topic: Development of a Martian export economy  (Read 9644 times)

Offline mgeagon

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Development of a Martian export economy
« on: 12/11/2017 06:45 AM »
There are many related threads, so mods please forward as necessary.

Many of us on this forum believe firmly in the high-minded goal of establishing a permanent outpost on Mars and elsewhere throughout the solar system. It appears that most of the conjecture surrounds launching enough resources from Earth to seed the new society until enough infrastructure can be obtained to make the colony self sufficient. I believe the current debate about power sources, including nuclear, is at the very heart of sustainability of any future settlement.

The economy of Earth grew through the ages organically, starting from the very first recognition of the need to obtain and allocate scarce resources, such as food and shelter. The miraculous Earth provided air, large bodies of fresh water, a diverse eco-system, and obtainable sources of nourishment, clothing and protection from the elements. Mars will have none of those things (until terra-forming over a millennia). Near instantaneous death will lurk at every turn, as man-made support systems are relied upon.

Notwithstanding the perhaps trillions of dollars coming exclusively from Earth that it will cost to get a million people to Mars over the next 100 years, at some point Martians will have to pay their own way on planet. They will need to farm food, water and air; generate energy from local resources; isolate and stockpile raw materials to be used in industry; provide recreational facilities; and provide for basic human services such as medical care and child education.

Early immigrants will undoubtedly be employees of the first colonial organization, in a way perhaps similar to the Hudson Bay Company or East India Company. For sake of argument, let's say this organization is SpaceX. An outpost economy will form around work to start mining water and CO2 for fuel. Initially, basic necessities, such as room and board, will be pre-allocated on Earth, purhaps included with the ticket purchase price. A commissary would likely be set up to provide luxury goods, paid for with credits obtained through work. Some may work harder, some may value more free time. A private economy will develop. From this, the Martian banking industry will develop.

For the long-term foreseeable future, Mars will be resource poor, with respect to Earth. What if more goods are needed then originally in the budget. Mars could ask for charity from Earth, but is that sustainable? Probably not for long.

What types of exports back to Earth could Mars produce in trade? Is there anything more than speculation about the abundance of rare earth materials on the surface of the Red Planet? Robert Zubrin says a likely candidate is Deuterium, a key hydrogen isotope used in both fusion and fission reactors. http://www.nss.org/settlement/mars/zubrin-colonize.html

Looking back at frontier mining towns or even new oil-boom communities, a chief driver of getting people to uproot and move is to find suitable employment. How do you get one million people to Mars? Develop an industry that creates a shortage of labor. This may not be detailed in Elon Musk's specific plan, but it is likely to be vital for hopes of colonizing Mars.

What types of industries could develop an export economy on Mars?

Mining?
Ship building?
Pharmaceuticals?
Recreation?
Defense?

Mark Eagon

Online speedevil

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #1 on: 12/11/2017 01:10 PM »
What types of industries could develop an export economy on Mars?

Mining?
Ship building?
Pharmaceuticals?
Recreation?
Defense?

As a starting point, we have earthly goods costing of the order of $130/kg to Mars (BFR 2016).

This sets, even for things just going into low Mars orbit, a cap on pricing. It's always going to be cheaper to get stuff from Earth at over this, unless concentrated resources are available on Mars, or it becomes so much easier to produce on Mars due to environmental regulations.

Mars has a modestly shallower gravity well, but it also has considerably lower insolation meaning solar isn't that good.

Automated or 'novel' types of factory don't help at all with this, unless there is something that can't be made on earth.

As to Deuterium - well - lol.
It is admittedly several times more abundant on Mars.
But it's only several times.
Heavy water is available for $500/kg in small quantities, here on earth, so $2K/kg for deuterium.
This is not a remotely limiting number, if deuterium was actually desired for fusion, which it isn't.
Tritium in principle might be valuable, but there is none naturally on Mars, and there is no near-term need for it.
« Last Edit: 12/11/2017 01:12 PM by speedevil »

Offline spacenut

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #2 on: 12/11/2017 02:38 PM »
Whatever can be produced on Mars that can be produced cheaper than transporting from earth will be the first things manufactured.  What would that be?  Building materials, raw mineral resources, food/agriculture facilities?  Once this is done then will come trade goods.  So at that point what would that be?

Mars is not quite like the New World where an abundance of natural resources were available that could readily be used in Europe, like gold, silver, lumber, new agricultural products. 

What does Mars have in abundance that is limited on Earth?  Gold, silver, platinum, titanium, even iron ore? 
« Last Edit: 12/11/2017 02:41 PM by spacenut »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #3 on: 12/11/2017 03:00 PM »
There are many related threads, so mods please forward as necessary.
Quite true. You might start by searching for "martian homesteading" for example.
Quote from: mgeagon
The miraculous Earth provided air, large bodies of fresh water, a diverse eco-system, and obtainable sources of nourishment, clothing and protection from the elements. Mars will have none of those things (until terra-forming over a millennia).
If ever, given the consequences of failure.
Quote from: mgeagon
Near instantaneous death will lurk at every turn, as man-made support systems are relied upon.
Depends Biological systems can help a lot with a lot of life support, provided they don't need artificial lighting.
Quote from: mgeagon
Notwithstanding the perhaps trillions of dollars coming exclusively from Earth that it will cost to get a million people to Mars over the next 100 years, at some point Martians will have to pay their own way on planet. They will need to farm food, water and air; generate energy from local resources; isolate and stockpile raw materials to be used in industry; provide recreational facilities; and provide for basic human services such as medical care and child education.

Early immigrants will undoubtedly be employees of the first colonial organization, in a way perhaps similar to the Hudson Bay Company or East India Company. For sake of argument, let's say this organization is SpaceX. An outpost economy will form around work to start mining water and CO2 for fuel. Initially, basic necessities, such as room and board, will be pre-allocated on Earth, purhaps included with the ticket purchase price. A commissary would likely be set up to provide luxury goods, paid for with credits obtained through work. Some may work harder, some may value more free time. A private economy will develop. From this, the Martian banking industry will develop.


For the long-term foreseeable future, Mars will be resource poor, with respect to Earth. What if more goods are needed then originally in the budget. Mars could ask for charity from Earth, but is that sustainable? Probably not for long.

What types of exports back to Earth could Mars produce in trade? Is there anything more than speculation about the abundance of rare earth materials on the surface of the Red Planet? Robert Zubrin says a likely candidate is Deuterium, a key hydrogen isotope used in both fusion and fission reactors. http://www.nss.org/settlement/mars/zubrin-colonize.html

Looking back at frontier mining towns or even new oil-boom communities, a chief driver of getting people to uproot and move is to find suitable employment. How do you get one million people to Mars? Develop an industry that creates a shortage of labor. This may not be detailed in Elon Musk's specific plan, but it is likely to be vital for hopes of colonizing Mars.

What types of industries could develop an export economy on Mars?

Mining?
Ship building?
Pharmaceuticals?
Recreation?
Defense?

Mark Eagon
This has been discussed at some length several times.  It comes down to this.

There are 2 economies.

There is the internal settlement economy. That can run on whatever unit of currency you want. Then there is the external economy that it has to link into in order to pay for any goods and services it cannot produce itself.
What you call "paying it's own way" is just the baseline that the settlement has to do to be a settlement in the first place.  Hint. If all your diet comes from prepackaged food containers from Earth, you're not a settlement, you're a base.

You seem to think that the settlement will be more or less self sufficient fairly quickly. That is a long way from most peoples view. It takes a very complex supply chain to support a complex environment, and Mars is a very complex environment. For example LED lights are efficient and flexible, but they are also very complicated to mfg (much more so than plain Silicon transistors).

There are (literally) a million and one other products that have complex mfg pathways that mfg those products efficiently in high volume. They simply don't exist on Mars, nor does the power to power them, so Mars will be depending on Earth for a very long time to come.

Think of it less like America in the 1700's than a distant island in the Caribbean, or the British Shetlands.

And like such an island it will be subject to the legal system of host nation, IE the US. it will not be some kind of "legal black hole."

As for support you should know that Musk has stated that in his opinion even if made Crack Cocaine by the tonne and shipped it back to Earth it still  wouldn't undercut the Earth product enough to make a profit.

The argument to "But Mars has a shallower gravity well than Earth" is "So what?" Unless there is a substantial human presence in low Earth (or Moon) orbit there is no market for anything you can sell that can't be undercut by asteroids (near zero gravity well).

Data is an option. IE videos of amazing sports, like hang gliding (with a really big hang glider of course) down a 26 mile high canyon. And spectacular scenery. But how long will that novelty last?

BTW with favorable alignments to Mars every 2 1/2 years and trips there and back taking at least 90 days each way the number of people who could take actual holidays to Mars is very limited. How many people can take about 3 years out of their lives for a holiday?

Medical research is a possibility. In principle any Earth organism that escaped outside a lab would face a near vacuum, high UV, highish radiation environment composed of fairly aggressive chemicals not unlike scouring powder.

Now how do you get the cultures to the lab from Earth to work on them? Or do you synthesize them on Mars based on data from Earth?

The other option is that products are made on Mars specifically to carry the "Made on Mars" logo, for the privilege of doing so. Bottled water (for example) is a $14Bn a year industry in the US. "Martian Glacier Prime Sparkling Water" could be a part of that business.

But for real long term sustainability You've got to leverage Mars assets.
Low gravity.
Sterile environment
No crime
Spectacular scenery

Say hello to  "Musk Villas. Gracious living for the extraordinarily well off."  :)

IMHO the bulk of initial settlers will be people who've decided to stay on Mars after a prolonged hitch of looking like after rich old codgers, somewhat in the way that a number of towns around naval and army bases have grown through soldiers and sailors leaving the service at that site and setting up a small business.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online hkultala

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #4 on: 12/11/2017 03:04 PM »
I think the practically only thing Mars can offer is a place where scientists can perform human and animal experiments without jurisdiction that bans them.

Cyborg technology, genetically modified humans etc.


Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #5 on: 12/11/2017 03:07 PM »
Mars is not quite like the New World where an abundance of natural resources were available that could readily be used in Europe, like gold, silver, lumber, new agricultural products. 
Indeed.

Those resources were also at basically the same altitude as the countries they were  being shipped to IE no effective gravity well.

What Mars does have in abundance is square mile upon square mile of empty land.

Of course the land is aggressively toxic, has no useful microbes (that we know of) in it, virtually no atmosphere above it and no water on most of it and it does have plenty of UV in the spectrum.

But if you could actually make it grow Earth crops you could probably feed yourself.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #6 on: 12/11/2017 03:09 PM »
I think the practically only thing Mars can offer is a place where scientists can perform human and animal experiments without jurisdiction that bans them.

Cyborg technology, genetically modified humans etc.
Wrong.

Any base or settlement will be subject to the laws of the nation the launch vehicle is hosted by, probably the US.

The idea that it will be in some kind of "Regulatory Black hole" is simply wrong.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #7 on: 12/11/2017 03:15 PM »
Even if everything is more expensive on Mars, it can still make a bit of money trading to earth.

It might take 10 man hours to make a product on mars and ship it to earth.
That same product might cost one man hour on earth and sell for one earth dollar.

This still means that you can turn 10 man hours on mars into $1 on earth, to buy an earth product that would cost infinity on mars (ie you just can't make it there yet) .. a good deal for everybody.

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #8 on: 12/11/2017 03:40 PM »
You seem to think that the settlement will be more or less self sufficient fairly quickly. That is a long way from most peoples view. It takes a very complex supply chain to support a complex environment, and Mars is a very complex environment. For example LED lights are efficient and flexible, but they are also very complicated to mfg (much more so than plain Silicon transistors).

Thank you for your very reasoned response. I do not believe Mars can achieve full sustainability for a millennium or more. I also do not believe a sustained presence on the planet can exist upon the good graces of Earthbound humanity, simply wishing to have an insurance policy against catastrophe. If a Mars colony is to thrive and even consider the immense prospect of terraforming the atmosphere to Earth-like conditions, some form of commerce must be developed to bring needed resources to bare. High-minded ideals might get SpaceX to Mars before NASA and "Boeing", but the colony will not exist beyond a few pods without trade with Earth. Perhaps, THE EXPANSE has it right and Earth's best engineers go to Mars and establish the modern Detroit and Stuttgart, building second to none space ships that are purchased from the home planet. Maybe, fusionable materials will be found in such quantities that all other sources of energy become obsolete. Either way, someone is going to have to convince a disparate population of space explorers that there will be a future on Mars that is better than that on Earth or no one will be willing to go there for any other reason than their funeral.

My hope with this thread is to pose plausible economies that might inspire future investment and generate expanded interest in a Mars Colony. While this topic has been discussed at many levels starting with Mars Direct, I wonder if a fresh look now is not justified, seeing as SpaceX has finally provided a credible start to colonization. The Raptor test stand in McGregor attests to the BFR as more than a Power Point rocket: now maybe is the time to really consider how a colony can begin.

Mark Eagon
« Last Edit: 12/11/2017 03:45 PM by mgeagon »

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #9 on: 12/11/2017 03:42 PM »
In my opinion, the first product, if you want to call it that way, will be martian rocks. Means: everyone who is collecting rocks will want to have a small martian rock. The problem is: this market isn't very large, and the prices might be beyond 100.000$ per kg (own 1g of martian rock for just 100$). Later, people will want to have rocks from certain areas of Mars (samples from Vallis Marineris, or Olympus Mons, etc), which will require more work-force to be dedicated to that. The only way I can see to do that with minimal dedicated workforce: do it while doing long term surface explorations. Just pick up half a ton of material instead of a few kilogramm.

Later on, when the resource produduction on Mars is running, there might be valuable side products. Like copper production on Mars, with platinum etc as a side-product. The best metals for that export are metals that are very expensive on Earth, and furthermore, which require a very messy extraction process. Rare Earth Elements are such an export-good.

There is something else that can be done by Mars: Exporting goods doesn't necessarily mean that they have to go to a place where these goods are abundand. Maybe they can go to the asteroid belt, when humanity tries to bootstrap a colony over there?

Ceres has a 2,5:1 orbital ratio to Mars. That's not terribly bad. Especially if there are more than just Ceres as destination. And these asteroid-colonies will require literally everything, especially the goods that Mars has to produce to keep everything alive (like water, air, etc).

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #10 on: 12/11/2017 04:07 PM »
In my opinion, the first product, if you want to call it that way, will be martian rocks. Means: everyone who is collecting rocks will want to have a small martian rock. The problem is: this market isn't very large, and the prices might be beyond 100.000$ per kg (own 1g of martian rock for just 100$). Later, people will want to have rocks from certain areas of Mars (samples from Vallis Marineris, or Olympus Mons, etc), which will require more work-force to be dedicated to that. The only way I can see to do that with minimal dedicated workforce: do it while doing long term surface explorations. Just pick up half a ton of material instead of a few kilogramm.

Later on, when the resource produduction on Mars is running, there might be valuable side products. Like copper production on Mars, with platinum etc as a side-product. The best metals for that export are metals that are very expensive on Earth, and furthermore, which require a very messy extraction process. Rare Earth Elements are such an export-good.

There is something else that can be done by Mars: Exporting goods doesn't necessarily mean that they have to go to a place where these goods are abundand. Maybe they can go to the asteroid belt, when humanity tries to bootstrap a colony over there?

Ceres has a 2,5:1 orbital ratio to Mars. That's not terribly bad. Especially if there are more than just Ceres as destination. And these asteroid-colonies will require literally everything, especially the goods that Mars has to produce to keep everything alive (like water, air, etc).

The very first exports from Mars are going to undoubtedly be Martian rock and soil samples. These will largely be paid for by governmental institutions. This sort of cottage industry will likely suffer the same fate as the Apollo Moon landings, as the scientific value of each new sample brought back diminishes. A more sustained boutique industry is likely tourism. The idle rich on Earth can only go to so many Grand Prix in Monaco or Winter Economic Summits on the shores of Lake Geneva. If someone can provide enough abject luxury on the journey to and the stay on Mars, an appropriate amount of billionaires will insist on making the trip, especially the opportunity to "get away from it all" for up to three years. The first permanent residents on Mars after scientists and engineers are likely to be in the hospitality industry, repleat with housekeepers and chefs: the blue collar backbone of a new society.

Mark Eagon

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #11 on: 12/11/2017 04:18 PM »
Even if everything is more expensive on Mars, it can still make a bit of money trading to earth.
It might take 10 man hours to make a product on mars and ship it to earth.
That same product might cost one man hour on earth and sell for one earth dollar.
This still means that you can turn 10 man hours on mars into $1 on earth, to buy an earth product that would cost infinity on mars (ie you just can't make it there yet) .. a good deal for everybody.
This does make sense. For example, the Amish community in the United States manufactures furniture by hand, producing a product with many times the man-hours of labor a modern producer utilizes. Yet, the nature of the Amish commune allows their societies to continue to exist and even thrive. Yes, once you can establish some means of economic exchange, even one as disjointed as a 10-1 cost discrepancy, a fiscal policy can be established that will define how a new Mars colony can exist. This is a good model upon which to build a realistic sustainability assessment. Thank you for your input.

Mark Eagon

Offline Ludus

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #12 on: 12/11/2017 05:00 PM »
I think the main Martian export will be title to assets on Mars. Mars will be fully integrated into the terrestrial ecinomy. Other than lightspeed delay business conducted on Mars will be no different than on earth.
The main condition for this will be working out the legal framework of property law and the expectation of steady growth in population there.

This is very different from a Mars base with government employees and a commisary that neither establishes property rights or suggests a future of massive growth in local demand.

Offline raketa

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #13 on: 12/11/2017 05:53 PM »
Mars will be economy exporting ideas and new devices. People in such harsh unforgiving environment will force to be innovative in mining, processing, and manufacturing. These new ideas will export and implement on Earth.

Offline DanielW

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #14 on: 12/11/2017 05:59 PM »
I think the biggest export will be opportunity.

When you are building a colony, every skill is in high demand. People who can afford to do so will pay their way to Mars for the plethora of opportunities awaiting them. The idea is to participate in the Mars economy. Go to Mars and help produce something for Mars. But in the process Earth currency will trickle in with them.

I do think that some businesses will invest in infrastructure on Mars. Companies with a long view anyway. A company like 3M could become the largest company in history in a century or two if they were the first to establish an industrial base on the Moon or Mars.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #15 on: 12/11/2017 11:46 PM »
Quote from: Hotblack Desiato
Ceres has a 2,5:1 orbital ratio to Mars. That's not terribly bad. Especially if there are more than just Ceres as destination. And these asteroid-colonies will require literally everything, especially the goods that Mars has to produce to keep everything alive (like water, air, etc).
But while Mars gravity well beats Earth gravity well by 3:1 Asteroid "gravity well" beats Mars by 0:1/3 Earth g. it's likely any attempt to use an asteroid will involve remote sensing surveys first, so people will settle asteroids that have what they want from the first landing.

Quote from: mgeagon
The first permanent residents on Mars after scientists and engineers are likely to be in the hospitality industry, repleat with housekeepers and chefs: the blue collar backbone of a new society.
For long term settlement you need long term care.

I'm really not joking about "Musk Villas." In terms of sustainable industry codger farming long term senior care is likely to be the growth industry for Mars.  :(

So yes housekeeping, chefs, EMT's are likely to be a key worker group of the new Martian economy.

Sadly that lacks the grandeur of most SF.  :(

There has been extended discussion why the "Little House on the Martian Prairie" is nonsense.
Thank you for your very reasoned response. I do not believe Mars can achieve full sustainability for a millennium or more.
My apologies. That seemed to be the line of your thinking.
Quote from: mgeagon
I also do not believe a sustained presence on the planet can exist upon the good graces of Earthbound humanity, simply wishing to have an insurance policy against catastrophe.
Actually that's exactly what several of the posters to other threads have thought.
Some kind of Billionaires "Social fund" set up to encourage and sustain the settlement, like the arrangements in Alaska. Apparently it has been done for other historical settlements, but it's not clear if any of them still exist.

I'll leave others to decide how likely that sounds.
Quote from: mgeagon
If a Mars colony is to thrive and even consider the immense prospect of terraforming the atmosphere to Earth-like conditions, some form of commerce must be developed to bring needed resources to bare. High-minded ideals might get SpaceX to Mars before NASA and "Boeing", but the colony will not exist beyond a few pods without trade with Earth.
Musk has said SX will handle the transport and ISRU for propellant, but that leaves an awful lot of other "stuff" to do.
Quote from: mgeagon
Perhaps, THE EXPANSE has it right and Earth's best engineers go to Mars and establish the modern Detroit and Stuttgart, building second to none space ships that are purchased from the home planet. Maybe, fusionable materials will be found in such quantities that all other sources of energy become obsolete. Either way, someone is going to have to convince a disparate population of space explorers that there will be a future on Mars that is better than that on Earth or no one will be willing to go there for any other reason than their funeral.

My hope with this thread is to pose plausible economies that might inspire future investment and generate expanded interest in a Mars Colony. While this topic has been discussed at many levels starting with Mars Direct, I wonder if a fresh look now is not justified, seeing as SpaceX has finally provided a credible start to colonization. The Raptor test stand in McGregor attests to the BFR as more than a Power Point rocket: now maybe is the time to really consider how a colony can begin.
The general question is what motivates people to permanently go to Mars to settle?

Historically the reason people have gone anywhere is

a) Because anywhere is better than where they are now (for example the Moslem minority fleeing from Miramar into Bangladesh. You have to be seriously desperate to flee into Bangladesh)

b) Where they are going is said to be better than here. European settlers going to the "New World" as a "land of opportunity."

c) Because they have no choice. IE forced settlement EG Siberia from Russia under the Tsars (and later Communism) or convicts transported to Australia. "Undocumented" illegals?

Options a) and c) seem pretty much out of the question (for reasons that should be obvious), leaving b), people seeking, to coin a phrase "A better life."

So the question is what is this "better life," given the restrictions the environment places on people living in it?

BTW A lot of this has been discussed during 3 previous threads. Unfortunately the most productive one was locked and taken off line. It has never been restored. An awful lot of this discussion has already taken place.

Because right now it looks like the most likely scenario is

1)Elon Musk moves to Mars and sets up a family compound with his staff
2) That's Martian settlement done.  :(
« Last Edit: 12/13/2017 07:34 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

Online CraigLieb

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #16 on: 12/12/2017 04:04 AM »
I believe that settlement of Mars will become land-rush frenetic once
A) regular transport is firmly established and affordable
B) legal frameworks established to claim land (nation states and/or individual)
Which leads to ordinary citizens chance for ground floor homesteading (I.e. grab while the grabbing be good).
C) It is perceived to be safe enough to be basically survivable.

The Economy of future Mars isnít limited to Mars.
Mars will eventually act as one foothold leading to the asteroid belt, like the lower 48 States and Canada were provisioning stops and base-camp jumping off points for the Alaskan gold rush.
Also where the miners come back to barter their riches, restock, and package certain treasures for sale back home on Earth. This will drive a service economy for equipment, warehousing , space ships, security systems, mining lasers, environmental systems, food stuffs, and much more.
Colonize Mars!

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #17 on: 12/12/2017 04:06 AM »
BTW A lot of this has been discussed during 3 previous threads. Unfortunately the most productive one was locked and taken off line. It has never been restored. An awful lot of this discussion has already taken place.

Yes, I searched and noted that some interesting ones were locked. That is the reason I wanted to start this thread.

This forum is doing an excellent job describing in great detail how a colony COULD exist, with geodesic domes, lava tubes, solar panels and portable kilopower modules. I am very excited about the prospect of BFR to enable humanity a chance to go to Mars in my lifetime. The rocket appears to be credible and launching it gives us the ability to make the first realistic business case for colonizing the Red Planet. We will soon know the true cost of transportation, the basis of trade with Mother Earth.

Queen Isabela sent Columbus west to bring back riches. She knew the cost of the three ships plus privisioning and made the calculation that the risk of losing it all was eclipsed by the potential gain. We should be able to begin to make similar calculations now, perhaps with the aid of some educated guesses.

Elon Musk has challenged us all to provide those things beyond Mars transit and refueling. We need to take a sober look at what is available to us at the planet, identify opportunities not present on Earth and develop plans to exploit those resources and processes.

For example, let's take a look at high value potential minerals. Business Insider provides a list of the most expensive substances on Earth. http://www.businessinsider.com/most-valuable-substances-by-weight-2014-9

At $1 trillion per gram, anti-matter could fund everthing. Setting up super-colliders in 1/3 g and having a much higher source of certain radioactive isotopes might be the competitive advantage Mars needs.

Californium 252 at $27 million per gram might give us a basis for calculation. A kilo of this man-made element would sell for $27 billion. That would certainly send a lot of ships. How would such a heavy metal-derived substance be produced on Mars in great enough quantity? Unknown, but Mars could have locked in ores not readily available on Earth.

As mentioned upthread, tritium is a possible export at $30,000 per gram. It can be used in future propulsion systems and is a component is fusion reactions. A metric ton of the stuff is worth $30 billion. A single BFS could bring back over $1 trillion worth of tritium.

These examples are probably fantastical, but provide a starting point for brain-storming. Each BFS can bring back 50 MT to Earth. What should be inside them?

Mark Eagon

Online hkultala

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #18 on: 12/12/2017 10:24 AM »
I think the practically only thing Mars can offer is a place where scientists can perform human and animal experiments without jurisdiction that bans them.

Cyborg technology, genetically modified humans etc.
Wrong.

Any base or settlement will be subject to the laws of the nation the launch vehicle is hosted by, probably the US.

The idea that it will be in some kind of "Regulatory Black hole" is simply wrong.

Any basis for these claims?

Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies says they are like international waters, but only few nations have ratified this treaty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty


« Last Edit: 12/12/2017 10:25 AM by hkultala »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #19 on: 12/12/2017 11:33 AM »
Wrong.

Any base or settlement will be subject to the laws of the nation the launch vehicle is hosted by, probably the US.

The idea that it will be in some kind of "Regulatory Black hole" is simply wrong.

Any basis for these claims?

Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies says they are like international waters, but only few nations have ratified this treaty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty
The subject was discussed extensively on all three of the "Martian homesteading" threads.

And since you pointed out few nations have signed this treaty that suggests other legal approaches will apply.

Again Mars will not be a some kind of "regulatory black hole" where research will be allowed that's illegal everywhere on Earth.  IRL when people say "It's illegal to do this research everywhere" I think they often mean "everywhere" in the United States

In most other parts of the developed world such research (under monitoring) is quite possible.

It's quite ironic to me people look to thinking they need a new planet to research, when all they need do is cross their countries border to somewhere else that's less repressive in a particular field.   
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.
So you're going to Mars to seek a better life. What does that mean to you? Always spot a fanbois by how they react to their idols failures.

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