Author Topic: Development of a Martian export economy  (Read 16267 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.
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Offline 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.
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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.
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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 »
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Offline 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 isn’t 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

Offline 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.   
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C Apply

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #20 on: 12/12/2017 12:20 PM »
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.
The ground rule for the Martian Homesteading threads was that all there physical problems of supporting a continually growing population already had multiple possible solutions.

It was paying for those solutions that was the issue.
Quote from: mgeagon
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.
Note that phrase bring back

Fortunes were made just growing stuff in America and sticking it on a boat for the 6-8 week journey from South Carolina to the UK. That's simply not going to happen with Mars.

Quote from: mgeagon
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.

At $1 trillion per gram, anti-matter could fund everything. 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.
Again, why do it on Mars? Antimatter is hugely expensive because virtually nobody use it. It's been pointed out you could build a big collider easier and cheaper on Earth on a suitably remote site (there really are large islands with no inhabitants to complain if this were to explode. Whole archipelagos of them).
Quote from: mgeagon
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
.
Fake mining scams have been run on gullible investors for at least 3 centuries. South America, Canada and Tibet have been popular places to site these, but I'm sure Mars will join the list of places for such get-rich-quick schemes.
Quote from: mgeagon
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.
Except Zubrin was talking about Deuterium, the natural  isotope of Hydrogen. Tritium is radioactive and decays in about 12 years. Mostly made in nuclear reactors (mostly for Hydrogen bombs) and expected to be bred in the blankets of actual fusion reactors, if they are ever made to work, and if the ones that are made to work need them.

AFAIK the biggest single use of Deuterium is the moderator in CANDU reactors (which BTW would be quite attractive for Mars as they can run on unenriched Uranium and have a lot of existing operating history). Those system work very hard to conserve heavy water and need minimal topping up once running. 
Quote from: mgeagon
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?
They are fantastical and the subject has been discussed at length.

If BFS delivers on its pricing IE $130/Kg that's $130 000/tonne transport costs just to begin with.

That is cheap only by the standards of space transportation systems. By every other yard (or metre, if you prefer) stick it's staggeringly expensive.

The problem is the supply chain you have to set up (on Mars) first to get those products.
IOW the things that make the things that make....the thing that makes the thing you want

Many of those things are also very energy intensive.

To put that in perspective the ISS is a 200Kw PV array.  1 Kg of gasoline releases about 62 Mj of energy (coal is about 24 Mj/Kg. IOW 1 Kg of gasoline releases as much energy as the whole array running for 310 secs, a bit over 5 mins.

But mars has no fossil fuels. A large garbage dump on Earth can generate 10MW of power for 10-20 years based on Methane generation, but that's pretty small change in the metal processing (or even worse, cement or glass) industries.

I agree, some way must be found to meet the operating costs of a settlement. Something that can sustainability generate revenue into the future so when stuff breaks down or wears out (and it cannot be made on Mars) that the settlement can buy it.

Musk used Crack because it's both very light and very valuable and it's still not light enough or valuable enough to win in the market against the Earth product.

That's why one option is for products made on Mars specifically for export to Earth for the novelty of consumers to have something made on Mars .

I'm told Suntory Whisky is very good, but it's just not one of the 100+ single malts made in Scotland.
That's what those people who buy single malts are (partly) paying for.

As I noted bottled water is a $14 Billion dollar a year industry in the US. Is it really any better than most US tapwater? IDK, but consumers spend $14Bn/year because they think so.
Shipping water to Earth is (logically) a stupid idea but
"Martian Glacier Melt Water (with a Zesty tang of Perchlorate goodness  :))" at $500/l could be a product people will actually buy (at least once).
« Last Edit: 12/12/2017 12:30 PM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C Apply

Offline sghill

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #21 on: 12/12/2017 01:21 PM »
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.
The ground rule for the Martian Homesteading threads was that all there physical problems of supporting a continually growing population already had multiple possible solutions.

It was paying for those solutions that was the issue.
Quote from: mgeagon
Queen Isabela sent Columbus west to bring back riches. She knew the cost of the three ships plus provisioning 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.
Note that phrase bring back

Two points of discussion here:

First, the value of gold and other precious materials is not based on the amount in circulation (i.e. "brought back", it's based on the amount that is known to exist, control over it, the ability to extract or manufacture it, and the capability of putting it into circulation.

On Mars, precious minerals will literally be sitting out in the open. There was plenty of volcanism in Mars' past, and seams of precious metals should exist in similar places as they do here on Earth.

So, to have a mining operation on Mars (and on asteroids), does not mean that you will be bringing all that gold (or other stuff) back at all. It means that you have the ability to bring it back along with the other things I detailed above.  Keep in mind that most of the Earth's extracted gold sits in vaults and the value of it is traded, not the actual ingots. Martian and asteroid mining will be no different, IMHO.

Second, "bring back" doesn't have to refer to physical items originating on Mars (natural resources or value added manufacturing). It can also refer to intellectual property (scientific research), legal property (claims to land), and even experiences (tourism and entertainment).  Antarctica is a perfect corollary here. There are huge multi national companies making billions off of research and tourism alone. Those non-tangibles are regularly brought back, and supported by companies that choose to do business within Antarctica (and yes, that is a commercial airliner landing in Antarctica).
Bring the thunder Elon!

Offline incoming

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #22 on: 12/12/2017 02:34 PM »
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.

I'm all for optimism, but I think you need to consider that there is nothing on Mars that would offer a return on investment like the trading routes, raw materials, etc that drove the age of exploration. People have been thinking about this for decades, and no one has come up with anything even remotely compelling yet. Accordingly I think the entire premise of your question - that something like the East India Trading Company could exist for Mars exploration, is fundamentally flawed.

That being said there is one "export" that hasn't been discuss widely in this particular thread, but is very valuable and where Mars offers some unique and compelling opportunities. That "export" is scientific knowledge and fundamental understanding about the nature of the solar system and of life itself.

Both governments and wealthy individuals have proven for centuries that they are willing to pay large sums of money for advancements in science and technology (Alex MacDonald, an economist at NASA, recently published a book on the subject called The Long Space Age: The Economic Origins of Space Exploration from Colonial America to the Cold War).

I think the closest thing we can realistically hope for any time in the foreseeable future in terms of an Martian export economy is one where reduced space transportation costs combine with the leveraging of Mars resources (as well as perhaps other space resources) to make a scientific outpost on Mars economically viable and sustainable. And by that I mean the value of the science it produces (combined with the other benefits like national prestige, etc) is worth the expense of everything that settlement needs to get from Earth. That is fundamentally an "export economy" that could perhaps be sustained for a very long time.

Maybe after living there an exploring for decades that settlement will discover some "killer app" that eventually overtakes scientific return as the driving force. I'm certainly hopefully of that, but I'm 100% certain that whatever it may be it isn't predictable with any level of certainty now.

 

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #23 on: 12/12/2017 02:45 PM »
[
They are fantastical and the subject has been discussed at length.

If BFS delivers on its pricing IE $130/Kg that's $130 000/tonne transport costs just to begin with.

That is cheap only by the standards of space transportation systems. By every other yard (or metre, if you prefer) stick it's staggeringly expensive.

The problem is the supply chain you have to set up (on Mars) first to get those products.
IOW the things that make the things that make....the thing that makes the thing you want

Many of those things are also very energy intensive.

To put that in perspective the ISS is a 200Kw PV array.  1 Kg of gasoline releases about 62 Mj of energy (coal is about 24 Mj/Kg. IOW 1 Kg of gasoline releases as much energy as the whole array running for 310 secs, a bit over 5 mins.

But mars has no fossil fuels. A large garbage dump on Earth can generate 10MW of power for 10-20 years based on Methane generation, but that's pretty small change in the metal processing (or even worse, cement or glass) industries.

I agree, some way must be found to meet the operating costs of a settlement. Something that can sustainability generate revenue into the future so when stuff breaks down or wears out (and it cannot be made on Mars) that the settlement can buy it.

Musk used Crack because it's both very light and very valuable and it's still not light enough or valuable enough to win in the market against the Earth product.

That's why one option is for products made on Mars specifically for export to Earth for the novelty of consumers to have something made on Mars .

I'm told Suntory Whisky is very good, but it's just not one of the 100+ single malts made in Scotland.
That's what those people who buy single malts are (partly) paying for.

As I noted bottled water is a $14 Billion dollar a year industry in the US. Is it really any better than most US tapwater? IDK, but consumers spend $14Bn/year because they think so.
Shipping water to Earth is (logically) a stupid idea but
"Martian Glacier Melt Water (with a Zesty tang of Perchlorate goodness  :))" at $500/l could be a product people will actually buy (at least once).

Thank you again for your in depth analysis. It appears you have a long history of discussing this topic before I joined the forum. So, Idle rich sunset tours, trinkets and a few independently wealthy scientists are the only economically viable subjects of Mars settlement? That is disheartening to me, but perhaps that is reality. I do think an honest assessment is paramount here.

Is there any speculation about what might make Mars a growth market? Obviously, Zubrin laid out a somewhat compelling case two decades ago that did not get a lot of traction within the scientific community. What I'm looking for is more of an industrialist's point of view. What about Mars makes it more ideal for production over Earth?

Tourism and pure science seems like natural early adaptors. Certainly, boutique industries can claim the "made on Mars" mantra. But, pure ecomics aside, the Earth is resource finite. At some point, a secondary source will be needed for many things. Mars has many times the percolates on its surface than Earth. Eventually, these will be quite attractive. Again, if we talk on the scale of millenia, a planet like Mars should flourish. Can we get a million people to move there over the next 100 years? I don't know.

Mark Eagon

Offline RDoc

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #24 on: 12/12/2017 02:50 PM »
Second, "bring back" doesn't have to refer to physical items originating on Mars (natural resources or value added manufacturing). It can also refer to intellectual property (scientific research), legal property (claims to land), and even experiences (tourism and entertainment).  Antarctica is a perfect corollary here. There are huge multi national companies making billions off of research and tourism alone. Those non-tangibles are regularly brought back, and supported by companies that choose to do business within Antarctica (and yes, that is a commercial airliner landing in Antarctica).
I'm very doubtful that anyone is making anything close to $1B on Antarctic tourism, do you have a source? Last year there were roughly 44000 tourists total in Antarctica, so that would mean that each tourist produced over $20K in profits.

A trip to Antarctica costs on the order of $10K to $20K and lasts a week or two. On the BFR a flight to Mars would cost at least 10x that much, likely much more, and require a minimum of over a year and a half.

I'm also very doubtful that gold (if there is any) on Mars would be worth any more than the millions of tons of gold dissolved in the oceans.

Online RonM

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #25 on: 12/12/2017 03:25 PM »
To maintain a small settlement, Elon could setup up a foundation. Foundations use profits from investments to fund projects and charities. A Mars settlement foundation, with funding from Elon and other billionaires, could provide the cash needed for support and supplies from Earth. In the future, if a "killer app" can be found to start an export economy, then the settlement can expand based on those profits.

Online launchwatcher

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #26 on: 12/12/2017 04:33 PM »
The general question is what motivates people to permanently go to Mars to settle?
So once again the TL;DR summary of your argument is "the settlement will most likely fail because nobody will want to stay"?   I think you vastly underestimate human tenacity.

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #27 on: 12/12/2017 07:06 PM »
So once again the TL;DR summary of your argument is "the settlement will most likely fail because nobody will want to stay"?   I think you vastly underestimate human tenacity.

The paucity of like on Mars strongly suggests that tenacity has its limits.

Tens of thousands die of famine and exposure every year on earth, human tenacity notwithstanding.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #28 on: 12/12/2017 09:28 PM »
Thank you again for your in depth analysis. It appears you have a long history of discussing this topic before I joined the forum.
It does. A fair bit of it is available through this sites search function. Not all of it, but a fair bit of it.
Quote from: mgeagon
So, Idle rich sunset tours, trinkets and a few independently wealthy scientists are the only economically viable subjects of Mars settlement?
You missed actual permanent retirement homes on Mars ("Musk Villias" as I've jokingly called it).
Part of the question is not "how big is the possible cash flow" It is "Is the cash flow big enough to cover the settlements operating expenses. The things that cannot be made or grown on Mars.
The joker in this pack is while (presumably) the range of stuff made in the settlement will expand over time (cutting the range of stuff you need to import, probably starting with food) the population is expanding, so stocks of consumables that cannot be made on Mars is falling.
 
Quote from: mgeagon
That is disheartening to me, but perhaps that is reality. I do think an honest assessment is paramount here.
It shouldn't be. There has been a huge amount of fiction written about settling Mars. Sadly it's unlikely a lot of it is in any way plausible.  :( Sorry, but the epic, heroic space-opera "building a frontier" is not going to happen soon, if ever.

If you want an image for settlement. I think of the Wyland Yutani base in the film "Aliens."

But what is important to you? That Mars get's settled, or how it happens?
Quote from: mgeagon
Is there any speculation about what might make Mars a growth market? Obviously, Zubrin laid out a somewhat compelling case two decades ago that did not get a lot of traction within the scientific community.
The fact it did not get traction suggests it was not compelling enough.  :(
Quote from: mgeagon
What I'm looking for is more of an industrialist's point of view. What about Mars makes it more ideal for production over Earth?
Good question.  Basically the 1/3 gravity and the atmospheric pressure as 1/160 that of Earth.
Quote from: mgeagon
Tourism and pure science seems like natural early adaptors.
The trouble with that PoV is it's not settlement.
It's a posting, or a holiday (and again you're looking at a minimum of about 3 months transit either way. The issue with staying on the ISS was the 18 months of training in Russia before you got there).
Settlement means growing food and raising families.

To be a settlement you have to look at growing crops and ultimately raising families.

Quote from: mgeagon
Certainly, boutique industries can claim the "made on Mars" mantra. But, pure ecomics aside, the Earth is resource finite.
As was pointed out by the "Club of Rome" in their book "The Limits to Growth" in the 1970's.
You might like to read it. 
Then look around you and compare what they predicted with what has actually happened.
Quote from: mgeagon
At some point, a secondary source will be needed for many things. Mars has many times the percolates on its surface than Earth. Eventually, these will be quite attractive.
They are basically scouring powder. The stuff you use to clean sinks and baths. Is the world running out of those?
Quote from: mgeagon
Again, if we talk on the scale of millenia, a planet like Mars should flourish. Can we get a million people to move there over the next 100 years? I don't know.
Easily.  :)
If you can work out who would be needed to make settlement a success and find a way to motivate those people to come to Mars, assuming they will be allowed to come to Mars in the first place.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2017 09:56 PM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C Apply

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #29 on: 12/12/2017 11:07 PM »
Easily.  :)
If you can work out who would be needed to make settlement a success and find a way to motivate those people to come to Mars, assuming they will be allowed to come to Mars in the first place.
In my mind, people will come en masse if there are jobs. There will be employment if there are sustainable industries, such as mining and manufacturing. Support industries, such a farming, health care, education and entertainment will follow.

Niche settlements such as your Musk Retirement Villas might number in the thousands at most? Same goes for pure science efforts. While I understand the need to set up farming for eventual sustainability, it will scale with growth, in my opinion.

Indeed, who can work out what type of endeavor will be able to employ a million people? My supposition is that BFR might make a business case more plausible. Perhaps the cost of transport needs to come down by further orders of magnitude. Time will tell if someone can present a properly detailed proposal that could lead to a real solution.

Mark Eagon

Offline sghill

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #30 on: 12/12/2017 11:12 PM »
Second, "bring back" doesn't have to refer to physical items originating on Mars (natural resources or value added manufacturing). It can also refer to intellectual property (scientific research), legal property (claims to land), and even experiences (tourism and entertainment).  Antarctica is a perfect corollary here. There are huge multi national companies making billions off of research and tourism alone. Those non-tangibles are regularly brought back, and supported by companies that choose to do business within Antarctica (and yes, that is a commercial airliner landing in Antarctica).
I'm very doubtful that anyone is making anything close to $1B on Antarctic tourism, do you have a source? Last year there were roughly 44000 tourists total in Antarctica, so that would mean that each tourist produced over $20K in profits.

A trip to Antarctica costs on the order of $10K to $20K and lasts a week or two. On the BFR a flight to Mars would cost at least 10x that much, likely much more, and require a minimum of over a year and a half.

I'm also very doubtful that gold (if there is any) on Mars would be worth any more than the millions of tons of gold dissolved in the oceans.

You conveniently left out the research part of my sentence. Tourism is a miniscule part of the Antarctic economy. Most of it is government contracting to the countries the operate there by companies.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2017 11:13 PM by sghill »
Bring the thunder Elon!

Offline Oersted

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #31 on: 12/12/2017 11:52 PM »
The only export coming out of Mars which can hope to compete with similar Earth products are bits and bytes, since the transport costs are negligible. I think the major export of a Mars settlement for the first many years will be information in a wider sense. It can take many forms: entertainment will surely be the most lucrative. Documentaries, adventure and exploration shows, VR video, "Big Brother", porn... The possibilities are manifold.

Earth has long since moved beyond a raw-materials-driven economy. Just look at the size of the gaming and movie industries. They are bigger than many "classic" industry sectors.

Crazy as it may sound I think the first base will - to a large extent - be a movie studio, and a main activity will be just documenting the progress (and setbacks) of early settlement. It will decinitely make for compelling viewing.

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #32 on: 12/13/2017 12:44 AM »
My two cents.
Earth is a rich planet, but with a fragile ecosphere and climate. Many industrial operations today (manufactory, mining, etc) produce large environmental/ecosystem negative externalities which are not priced in ("internalized"). In many ways, industrial processes produce no negative externalities in the absence of a biosphere- if anything, global warming is a positive externality on Mars.
Protecting the environment of planet earth by pricing in externalities is probably a good boost for those areas where the same production would face no externality. Then again probably NEOs are better located for mining and the Moon for manufacturing, but once externalities are priced in, the competition between earth, asteroids and the moon will really depend on relative transport costs.
« Last Edit: 12/13/2017 09:14 AM by francesco nicoli »

Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #33 on: 12/13/2017 06:56 AM »
The prior discussions were locked because certain posters kept repeating themselves and not adding anything new, the hope was that with a new start, new ground would be discovered instead of blowing the same horns over and over. Certain posters in this thread are doing great, and certain posters are falling into their same old ways.  They know who they are.  It is not needful to repeatedly say "no" in great detail to everything brought forth. Once you made your point, move on.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #34 on: 12/13/2017 09:03 AM »
In my mind, people will come en masse if there are jobs. There will be employment if there are sustainable industries, such as mining and manufacturing. Support industries, such a farming, health care, education and entertainment will follow.
Let me suggest a little thought experiment.

Collect together all the items you buy in shops over the course of a week.

Work out what the total bill for them was.

Now weight them all up.

Multiply the weight in Kg by 130.

That's the minimum your weekly income has to be to be able to afford those things on Mars if BFS succeeds in meeting its cost targets.

You might like to re-think your priorities.  :(
On Earth in the developed world if you have money you can have pretty much anything at your door within 24 hours.

On Mars that becomes a minimum  of 13 weeks (worst case 30 mins to place the order to Earth) assuming there is enough time to get it to the launch site and manifest it on a BFS going out. 

If not next launch window is about 2 1/2 years from now.
Quote from: mgeagon
Niche settlements such as your Musk Retirement Villas might number in the thousands at most? Same goes for pure science efforts. While I understand the need to set up farming for eventual sustainability, it will scale with growth, in my opinion.
You can't expand across the solar system on a continuous supply of Earth made ready meals. That a military basing strategy, not a settlement.

As for it being a niche it's not so much the number of Seniors it's the size of their shared care staffs and personal entourage. It's a way for people who want to go to Mars, but for whatever reason are unable to pay the fare, to get to Mars. My instinct is that staff turnover would be relatively rapid, so every 3-5 years a new "generation" of former care staff decide to stay on Mars and set up some kind of business or offer some kind of service to do so.
Quote from: mgeagon
Indeed, who can work out what type of endeavor will be able to employ a million people? My supposition is that BFR might make a business case more plausible. Perhaps the cost of transport needs to come down by further orders of magnitude. Time will tell if someone can present a properly detailed proposal that could lead to a real solution.
The logical answer is that of course they cannot all be doing the same thing. You need a lot of different things to get done in order for a community to be self sufficient on Earth. More so given the very much more hostile environment of Mars.

If there is anything that would make settlement much more viable it would the eliminating of the 2 1/2 year gaps between launch windows. 

America was settled by voyages that took as long from Europe to America as Earth to Mars but they could leave every day, any day, with no gaps, and likewise for coming back.
By the end of the 19th century that time had shrunk 5x (5knots wind to 26 knots steam), with data (not voice) being transmitted by transatlantic telegraph.  Concorde shrunk it to 4 hours, but by then you could (just about) have an on demand video call across the Atlantic.

Eliminating the launch window changes everything.

Any ideas on how to do that would be very interesting. 
« Last Edit: 12/13/2017 09:08 AM by john smith 19 »
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Offline DanielW

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #35 on: 12/13/2017 01:14 PM »
Eliminating the launch window changes everything.

Any ideas on how to do that would be very interesting.

Yes and would be off-topic unless you are proposing that such developments would happen on mars. And they very well might. I am a fan of companies like Spacex setting up large r&d offices on mars. It gives you an anchor tenent to drive further investment and can even be a payroll advantage since you can pay them in muskbucks which they can spend locally. You only need to settle accounts when they return to earth.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #36 on: 12/13/2017 01:18 PM »
Any ideas on how to do that <eliminate the launch window> would be very interesting.

The numbers needed are really quite nasty.
Imagining the earth and mars on the opposite sides of their orbits.
First, you need to kill 55km/s orbital velocities of each.
Add three for earth escape, and mars entry, and we're at 60km/s.

To get to Mars at furthest means you need to accelerate in 30 days to 200Gm (neglecting for the moment the sun), and then decelerate similarly.
distance=1/2 acceleration * time^2.
200Gm=1/2 accelleration * (86400s*30)^2
200*10^9m/7*10^12s^2 = 1/2 acceleration
acceleration = 2* 200*10^9m/7*10^12s^2
acceleration = 0.06m/s^2.
One half delta-v = acceleration * 30 days = 130km/s.
So, we're at basically 300km/s, or 0.1%c.

I hesitate to call this magic, but it's certainly fair to call it 'far term'.
The ISP required for any plausible mass ratio means that very advanced nuclear propulsion of some sort is required, either with direct use of the nuclear fragments as propulsion, or very, very high energy ion drives.

As a rough ballpark, for a ton, you need 600 newtons accelerating it, and if we take 130km/s as an exhaust velocity, we need 80 megawatts to move that ton.
In practice, this means you need something like a power source that can do well over 300 megawatts per ton, counting fuel and other structures.
For a month, with no refuelling.

The numbers get slightly better if you take more than 60 days to get there - but not a whole lot better from the perspective of this century..

And, of course, this would require fissionables or fusible development on Mars, or Earth, to such a level that all the concerns about energy go away utterly with this class of performance of reactor.
If this sort of ship was even possible, never mind economic, thermal energy, even many gigawatts of it on the surface of Mars is free.
« Last Edit: 12/13/2017 01:26 PM by speedevil »

Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #37 on: 12/13/2017 02:11 PM »
Thank you speedevil. That was very interesting. I'll have to get FedEx looking into it.

In the more short term, 26 month synods do have some Earth parallels. There are a number of inuit settlements along the North American arctic that are only resupplied during summer months. It can take six months from the last ship leaving port in the fall until the first one arrives in the spring, a gap in deliveries covering the harshest portion of a very harsh climate. A veritable Eden compared to Mars, to be sure, but an interesting example of periodic supply chain mechanics.

Mark Eagon
« Last Edit: 12/13/2017 02:12 PM by mgeagon »

Online speedevil

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #38 on: 12/13/2017 02:46 PM »
In the more short term, 26 month synods do have some Earth parallels. There are a number of inuit settlements along the North American arctic that are only resupplied during summer months. It can take six months from the last ship leaving port in the fall until the first one arrives in the spring, a gap in deliveries covering the harshest portion of a very harsh climate. A veritable Eden compared to Mars, to be sure, but an interesting example of periodic supply chain mechanics.

Once you have a largish number of people on Mars, or indeed anywhere, if you have a major bottleneck, upcycling becomes rather more important.
A relevant example may be Cuba.

Look, for example at Cubas automobile fleet, with vehicles repaired and kept working for decades beyond their normal service life.
Combining 'normal' repair, fabrication of parts from scratch and adaption of parts that were never meant to go together to get 'functional' vehicles, that may in some cases perform better than they did originally.

If we're starting from a $130/kg baseline, for many, even most categories of item, a curated list of stuff that has been tested and reviewed in detail for repairability and lifetime as 'the best of the best' will cover most peoples needs, and shipping in advance helps cover that.

Imagine, as an example, if you smash your monitor, the first step is to not to go to amazon, and order from earth, but to consult the repair shop who will see if they can fix it.
If they can't, you can buy a new one from the several different models of top-of their class monitor new from earth.
Or you can search a database of items for sale (automatically populated with their records from shipment).

'Items for sale' becomes a somewhat wooly concept, if you take other measures, for example, autopopulating the list with items that have not been used in six months.

Look at the non-grocery list of stuff you've bought recently.

How much of it would you not need if:
It was of higher quality initially.
Repair was possible of the existing item.
There was an efficient way of borrowing it off a neighbour or central repository and having it in 10 mins.


Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #39 on: 12/13/2017 08:26 PM »

The numbers needed are really quite nasty.
Imagining the earth and mars on the opposite sides of their orbits.
First, you need to kill 55km/s orbital velocities of each.
Add three for earth escape, and mars entry, and we're at 60km/s.

To get to Mars at furthest means you need to accelerate in 30 days to 200Gm (neglecting for the moment the sun), and then decelerate similarly.
distance=1/2 acceleration * time^2.
200Gm=1/2 accelleration * (86400s*30)^2
200*10^9m/7*10^12s^2 = 1/2 acceleration
acceleration = 2* 200*10^9m/7*10^12s^2
acceleration = 0.06m/s^2.
One half delta-v = acceleration * 30 days = 130km/s.
So, we're at basically 300km/s, or 0.1%c.

I hesitate to call this magic, but it's certainly fair to call it 'far term'.
The ISP required for any plausible mass ratio means that very advanced nuclear propulsion of some sort is required, either with direct use of the nuclear fragments as propulsion, or very, very high energy ion drives.

As a rough ballpark, for a ton, you need 600 newtons accelerating it, and if we take 130km/s as an exhaust velocity, we need 80 megawatts to move that ton.
In practice, this means you need something like a power source that can do well over 300 megawatts per ton, counting fuel and other structures.
For a month, with no refuelling.

The numbers get slightly better if you take more than 60 days to get there - but not a whole lot better from the perspective of this century..

And, of course, this would require fissionables or fusible development on Mars, or Earth, to such a level that all the concerns about energy go away utterly with this class of performance of reactor.
If this sort of ship was even possible, never mind economic, thermal energy, even many gigawatts of it on the surface of Mars is free.
Thanks for those numbers. That puts a lot of perspective on this subject. Personally I'd stay at 90 days if it cuts the power requirements.  [EDIT As long as you can launch any day of any week from Earth. That's the game changer ]

But it may be closer than you realize.

Yes the final velocity is serious but it's in the vacuum of space (granted this makes any kind of "aerocapture"  manoeuvre impossible. But if you have that kind of energy available you should no longer need them).

That acceleration is about 6 milli g. Probably a bit high by current ion thruster standards.

However Nerva was in the GW of power output and about 80 000lb of thrust (at a T/W of 1:1).
The interesting one is the "Fission fragment rocket." I'm not sure about the thrust level but the fragments are around 3-5% of C in velocity
 
Yes it's nuclear, and well beyond the current State of Practice, but it's not beyond current physics. Unfortunately AFAIK there is no actual development work going on for this technology.

This is probably as far this subject should go on this thread.

Yes and would be off-topic unless you are proposing that such developments would happen on mars.
That's a fair point. Any further comments should probably go to a new thread.
« Last Edit: 12/14/2017 11:16 AM by john smith 19 »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #40 on: 12/13/2017 08:42 PM »
In the more short term, 26 month synods do have some Earth parallels. There are a number of inuit settlements along the North American arctic that are only resupplied during summer months. It can take six months from the last ship leaving port in the fall until the first one arrives in the spring, a gap in deliveries covering the harshest portion of a very harsh climate. A veritable Eden compared to Mars, to be sure, but an interesting example of periodic supply chain mechanics.
Some might say these are the sort of people who would be better for settling Mars.
« Last Edit: 12/13/2017 09:08 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline RDoc

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #41 on: 12/20/2017 03:50 AM »
Second, "bring back" doesn't have to refer to physical items originating on Mars (natural resources or value added manufacturing). It can also refer to intellectual property (scientific research), legal property (claims to land), and even experiences (tourism and entertainment).  Antarctica is a perfect corollary here. There are huge multi national companies making billions off of research and tourism alone. Those non-tangibles are regularly brought back, and supported by companies that choose to do business within Antarctica (and yes, that is a commercial airliner landing in Antarctica).
I'm very doubtful that anyone is making anything close to $1B on Antarctic tourism, do you have a source? Last year there were roughly 44000 tourists total in Antarctica, so that would mean that each tourist produced over $20K in profits.

A trip to Antarctica costs on the order of $10K to $20K and lasts a week or two. On the BFR a flight to Mars would cost at least 10x that much, likely much more, and require a minimum of over a year and a half.

I'm also very doubtful that gold (if there is any) on Mars would be worth any more than the millions of tons of gold dissolved in the oceans.

You conveniently left out the research part of my sentence. Tourism is a miniscule part of the Antarctic economy. Most of it is government contracting to the countries the operate there by companies.
I left it out because it's miniscule and thought we were talking about actual profit. I notice you left out any links to the billions of dollars in profits being made. The current US budget for research in Antarctica is about $650M total.

If you're not just blowing smoke, come up with some actual data.


Offline rakaydos

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #42 on: 12/20/2017 03:19 PM »
Flipping a problem of mars exploration on it's head- What about cutting edge cancer research?

Any NASA plancaps lifetime radiation exposure to a 3% increase in likelyness of fatal cancer, which means deep underground shelters. But given an opportunity to go to mars, a non-NASA entity should be able to find people willing to knowing waive that requirement as surface construction/troubleshooting staff, with a good enough health package.

Which is where research comes in. No ethical clinical trial will intentionally expose people to dangerous radiation for the sake of science- but if people are exposing themselves to radiation on their own, an Observational study (even one with a wide sample size) is perfectly reasonable. People simply willing to work the martian surface will break new ground in medical science.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #43 on: 12/20/2017 05:12 PM »
Which is where research comes in. No ethical clinical trial will intentionally expose people to dangerous radiation for the sake of science- but if people are exposing themselves to radiation on their own, an Observational study (even one with a wide sample size) is perfectly reasonable. People simply willing to work the martian surface will break new ground in medical science.
As a medical researcher, this won't fly. In a population like this, you won't be able to distinguish the radiation effects from the confounds of reduced gravity, enclosed spaces, isolation, and all the other factors that will be different on Mars.

Offline rakaydos

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #44 on: 12/20/2017 06:09 PM »
Which is where research comes in. No ethical clinical trial will intentionally expose people to dangerous radiation for the sake of science- but if people are exposing themselves to radiation on their own, an Observational study (even one with a wide sample size) is perfectly reasonable. People simply willing to work the martian surface will break new ground in medical science.
As a medical researcher, this won't fly. In a population like this, you won't be able to distinguish the radiation effects from the confounds of reduced gravity, enclosed spaces, isolation, and all the other factors that will be different on Mars.

What about a sufficently large control group of people who do desk jobs in the shielded main base, as opposed to the surface workers with high radiation? Both groups have the reduced gravity, comparable isolation, ect.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #45 on: 12/20/2017 06:28 PM »
Oh that would help a lot, for sure. Not saying it's impossible, just saying it's not as easy as you initially stated.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #46 on: 12/21/2017 12:18 AM »
Which is where research comes in. No ethical clinical trial will intentionally expose people to dangerous radiation for the sake of science- but if people are exposing themselves to radiation on their own, an Observational study (even one with a wide sample size) is perfectly reasonable. People simply willing to work the martian surface will break new ground in medical science.
As a medical researcher, this won't fly. In a population like this, you won't be able to distinguish the radiation effects from the confounds of reduced gravity, enclosed spaces, isolation, and all the other factors that will be different on Mars.
This brings up an idea though: The concentration of a different skill set on mars could itself create a resource. I expect that at least initially it would be very driven, with a lot of respect for all sorts of scientific disciplines. That could be a reason people go, also: for the science and evidence based culture and the sense of a unifying goal.

Also, rather than thinking of Mars trading intellectual property to earth, I think it would be more along the lines of companies being split across the two planets, with design teams on mars and mass production (for the earth market) on earth.
« Last Edit: 12/21/2017 02:12 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline colbourne

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #47 on: 12/21/2017 12:34 AM »
Computer software, films, TV programs and  music are the obvious exports from Mars. The main draw back of exporting from Mars is the cost of shipping , and these products can be transmitted by radio and lasers at little cost. This also relies on creative people living on Mars, because that is where they want to live (or happen to be living for other reasons).

I see Mars  colonisation as a life boat for Earth life , where seed banks and DNA stores are  set up, with the thought that if Earth is destroyed, we can re-start civilisation. We should do all we can to make Mars self sufficient so that if the worst happens they can keep on going, with no inputs from Earth. To do this they need the ability to make enclosed space (tunnels and domes) , energy and future energy after original equipment has failed (solar panel manufacturing plant). Plants can be grown for food , construction materials, and air cleaning purposes. It would be interesting to work out how little mass would need to be shipped from Earth to allow a Mars civilisation to develop in isolation, with the potential to last thousands of years.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #48 on: 12/21/2017 07:42 PM »
This also relies on creative people living on Mars, because that is where they want to live (or happen to be living for other reasons).
Quite true.

What do you see as the attractions of moving to Mars?
Quote from: colbourne
It would be interesting to work out how little mass would need to be shipped from Earth to allow a Mars civilisation to develop in isolation, with the potential to last thousands of years.
The answer to that question is not little.

You might start by looking at the hardware needed to turn sand into Single Crystal Silicon. You might also like to look at the energy requirements of melting it in the first place. Pretty important given how many people think the settlement will run on PV arrays. Or you might like to look at the technology of cutting tool bits, which is highly specialized, energy intensive and very difficult to bootstrap.

When you look at something imagine it in pieces.
Now imagine the machines to make those pieces.
Then the machines that make those machines back to the raw ore.
Then factor in that (AFAIK) Mars has no coal, oil or natural gas with which to smelt those ores into products to begin with.

That does not make the goal impossible.

But it mean working out a whole new mfg sequence from scratch for a lot of that hardware. And no, waving your hands and saying "3d printing will solve everything" will not work, because while it has its uses, and it will obviously get better there will always be some tasks where the compromises and the post processing mean it won't work. 

If you want a common, high complexity, high energy artifact to consider look at the humble Printed Wiring Card or PCB that's inside all your electronics.

It's a combination of multiple layers of glass fiber in a mix of organic resins with about a 3mill Copper film bonded to it and photographically etched and made in a high pressure, high temperature laminating press before drilled with high speed drills down to 4mil in diameter.  The organic resins and the wet chemistry photographic emulsions used are all oil based and examples of low volume "fine" chemicals production. the drill bits are Tungsten Carbide using powder metallurgy.

So what's your plan for getting those "creatives" to Mars?
« Last Edit: 12/21/2017 07:55 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #49 on: 12/21/2017 07:44 PM »
Also, rather than thinking of Mars trading intellectual property to earth, I think it would be more along the lines of companies being split across the two planets, with design teams on mars and mass production (for the earth market) on earth.
What is the incentive for basing a design team on Mars?
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #50 on: 12/21/2017 10:20 PM »
Also, rather than thinking of Mars trading intellectual property to earth, I think it would be more along the lines of companies being split across the two planets, with design teams on mars and mass production (for the earth market) on earth.
What is the incentive for basing a design team on Mars?
Im not attempting to close the business case that entices investment. I don't think we can do that from here. It is all a big experiment that will never be done by entities driven only by their bottom line.

Im just speculating on how Mars could have an economy that earns some money from earth. The incentive for the Martians is that they get to colonise mars and inherit the galaxy, rather than just run a small Antarctica-like base.

Offline Ludus

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #51 on: 12/22/2017 12:35 AM »
It’s a difficult question to even speculate about without some legal framework for ownership of land and resources. There has to be a lot of work in exploration and then engineering ways of exploiting what’s found and that won’t get serious until there’s some way of owning what’s found. Under the current very limited law around the Space Treaty it’s not entirely clear you could even have ownership of anything off the earth to be able to export it.

OTOH if doing X lets you file a solid legal claim to resources that might have huge future value, there will be a lot of investment in doing X, even if it’s uncertain what will be found or how it will be valued.


Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #52 on: 12/23/2017 06:12 AM »
The idea of exporting scientific data assumes that the data has any value back on Earth. Likely not in a profitable way. However, Mars might export students. Surely if Earth is exporting stuff to Mars the manufacturers here will want people who are familiar with how the products work in situ.

A university town would be a good business. There'll be lots of researchers and potential professors. If a whole new world is opened up I'm sure there will be lots of students who will want to learn about Mars, and the best place will not be schools here on Earth. The long time between Windows won't be a problem for students who typically don't have attachments yet. It'd just be a single term at Mars university.

Many students likely wouldn't stay and settle, content to have had the experience of life on Mars and ready to go home. But supporting the school would require a lot of permanent residents.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #53 on: 12/23/2017 07:01 AM »
The idea of exporting scientific data assumes that the data has any value back on Earth. Likely not in a profitable way. However, Mars might export students. Surely if Earth is exporting stuff to Mars the manufacturers here will want people who are familiar with how the products work in situ.

A university town would be a good business. There'll be lots of researchers and potential professors. If a whole new world is opened up I'm sure there will be lots of students who will want to learn about Mars, and the best place will not be schools here on Earth. The long time between Windows won't be a problem for students who typically don't have attachments yet. It'd just be a single term at Mars university.

Many students likely wouldn't stay and settle, content to have had the experience of life on Mars and ready to go home. But supporting the school would require a lot of permanent residents.
Congratulations. I think that's the first actual new strategy to enable Martian settlement since the "Martian Homesteading" threads.  :)

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Offline Ludus

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #54 on: 12/23/2017 06:17 PM »
The idea of exporting scientific data assumes that the data has any value back on Earth. Likely not in a profitable way. However, Mars might export students. Surely if Earth is exporting stuff to Mars the manufacturers here will want people who are familiar with how the products work in situ.

A university town would be a good business. There'll be lots of researchers and potential professors. If a whole new world is opened up I'm sure there will be lots of students who will want to learn about Mars, and the best place will not be schools here on Earth. The long time between Windows won't be a problem for students who typically don't have attachments yet. It'd just be a single term at Mars university.

Many students likely wouldn't stay and settle, content to have had the experience of life on Mars and ready to go home. But supporting the school would require a lot of permanent residents.

Similar to this is exporting money in the form of remittances home from wages. If you are an exporter to Mars you need to employ people on Mars for all sorts of things. Training employees who return is just one. There will be a lot of simple jobs just unpacking and setting things up, doing maintenance and repairs, evaluating performance. Labor will be scarce and expensive.

Very high local prices and wages will be in ordinary terrestrial currencies and connected to the earth’s financial system. This means working on Mars might be uncomfortable but even small fractions of earnings saved will be worth a lot on earth. It might be very easy to send home a few hundred thousand dollars a year which wouldn’t buy much on Mars but have a big impact on the family back home.

We’ve never seen any separate economy operating off of the earth yet, but it will necessarily be very interconnected. Other than lightspeed delays that discourage day traders, it probably won’t be very different from most places on earth as far as financial transactions, banking, credit cards Etc. It will be different in having a very tight inelastic labor market. Antarctica is a suburb of New York or LA by comparison.

There are currently economies on earth where this effect is among the largest “exports”.
« Last Edit: 12/23/2017 06:41 PM by Ludus »

Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #55 on: 12/23/2017 08:47 PM »
There are currently economies on earth where this effect is among the largest “exports”.

Nod. I think some of the UAE countries might be like this...

There are also economies (the Philippines comes to mind as an example) where inbound remittances are among the largest "imports"... Depending on the mix of folk that actually go to work there, it might become the case that it's a significant "import" for the US...
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #56 on: 12/23/2017 08:55 PM »
It will be different in having a very tight inelastic labor market. Antarctica is a suburb of New York or LA by comparison.

There are currently economies on earth where this effect is among the largest “exports”.
Interesting idea. Something like it is sort of happening now with the ISS. The hourly rate for ISS astronauts is meant to be huge.

The problem with this is that while that's technically "exporting" something from Mars to Earth it's not clear how that would help the settlement purchase supplies from Earth in turn.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #57 on: 12/23/2017 09:21 PM »
It will be different in having a very tight inelastic labor market. Antarctica is a suburb of New York or LA by comparison.

There are currently economies on earth where this effect is among the largest “exports”.
Interesting idea. Something like it is sort of happening now with the ISS. The hourly rate for ISS astronauts is meant to be huge.

The problem with this is that while that's technically "exporting" something from Mars to Earth it's not clear how that would help the settlement purchase supplies from Earth in turn.
The founder of "Raising Cane's", a fried chicken chain, raised his initial stake by working in Alaska[1] and saving his earnings. I could conceive of someone with a low mass high value business idea going to Mars to work for a year or two, and then cashing in his return ticket[2] and his earnings to get "whatever" shipped out to get things going.

1 - this is the story they tell.,,, might be apocryphal, but probably not ...
     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_Cane%27s_Chicken_Fingers
2 - if allowed.
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Offline Ludus

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #58 on: 01/01/2018 06:52 AM »
It will be different in having a very tight inelastic labor market. Antarctica is a suburb of New York or LA by comparison.

There are currently economies on earth where this effect is among the largest “exports”.
Interesting idea. Something like it is sort of happening now with the ISS. The hourly rate for ISS astronauts is meant to be huge.

The problem with this is that while that's technically "exporting" something from Mars to Earth it's not clear how that would help the settlement purchase supplies from Earth in turn.

If there are people with money living on Mars, they’ll purchase almost everything they need from earth. The only thing really necessary to motivate paying them lots of money is the legal framework for people on earth to own assets on Mars they see as rising in value. Growing Capital on Mars is sufficient reason to pay people, even if none of it can physically leave.


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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #59 on: 01/01/2018 02:26 PM »

There are going to be immense incentives to innovate in the areas of power production & distribution; eclss; and robotic automation to support and grow the colony.  All that innovation will have practical use on earth and in other areas; it can be licensed to companies on earth, in cis-lunar space, and eventually elsewhere.

I wouldn't be surprised if for some long period of time innovation occurs on Mars; gets licensed to Earth companies; manufactured in bulk on Earth, and the final product is bought/shipped to Mars. 






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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #60 on: 01/01/2018 05:28 PM »
Mars will develop an 'export' economy when the 'gold rush' of mining the asteroid belt begins.  As a supply depot, Mars is better situated to supply consumables, space technology, fuel, etc. than any other location in the Solar System.

Here's the model:
Quote
The California gold rush starting in 1848 led to a large boom in population, including considerable immigration. Between January 1848 and December 1849, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. The rapid growth continued through the 1850s and under the influence of the 1859 Comstock Lode silver discovery. This rapid growth complicated city planning efforts, leaving a legacy of narrow streets that continues to cause unique traffic problems today. San Francisco became America's largest city west of the Mississippi River, until it lost that title to Los Angeles in 1920.
http://www.sf-info.org/history/d4/gold-rush
Image below

Trans-continental railroad followed in 1860s, despite the burden of the American Civil War.  The rest is history (too).

Here's a start on what will be mined:
Quote
NASA planning mission to an asteroid worth $10,000 quadrillion
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2017/01/18/nasa-planning-mission-asteroid-worth-10000-quadrillion/96709250/

'Trillion-Dollar Asteroid' Zooms by Earth as Scientists Watch (Video)
https://www.space.com/30074-trillion-dollar-asteroid-2011-uw158-earth-flyby.html
« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 05:31 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #61 on: 01/01/2018 05:52 PM »
I can see Mars eventually becoming a breadbasket of sorts to outer solar system.
Since the sun is still usable you probably could raise many of the same crops and even live stock from Earth on Mars once you're building large structures there.

« Last Edit: 01/01/2018 06:01 PM by Patchouli »

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #62 on: 01/01/2018 06:57 PM »
Because Mars is on inner edge of the Asteroid Belt, there are probably tonnes of meteorites* on its surface that would be scientifically interesting way to begin exploration of the Belt.  Mars fuel, from both the surface and also from Phobos/Deimos -- themselves incredibly interesting for scientific exploration -- will be a critical resource for any flights further out.

* Rovers have found several in their very limited travels.
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Offline Ludus

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #63 on: 01/01/2018 09:36 PM »
Mars will develop an 'export' economy when the 'gold rush' of mining the asteroid belt begins.  As a supply depot, Mars is better situated to supply consumables, space technology, fuel, etc. than any other location in the Solar System.

Here's the model:
Quote
The California gold rush starting in 1848 led to a large boom in population, including considerable immigration. Between January 1848 and December 1849, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. The rapid growth continued through the 1850s and under the influence of the 1859 Comstock Lode silver discovery. This rapid growth complicated city planning efforts, leaving a legacy of narrow streets that continues to cause unique traffic problems today. San Francisco became America's largest city west of the Mississippi River, until it lost that title to Los Angeles in 1920.
http://www.sf-info.org/history/d4/gold-rush
Image below

Trans-continental railroad followed in 1860s, despite the burden of the American Civil War.  The rest is history (too).

Here's a start on what will be mined:
Quote
NASA planning mission to an asteroid worth $10,000 quadrillion
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2017/01/18/nasa-planning-mission-asteroid-worth-10000-quadrillion/96709250/

'Trillion-Dollar Asteroid' Zooms by Earth as Scientists Watch (Video)
https://www.space.com/30074-trillion-dollar-asteroid-2011-uw158-earth-flyby.html

In addition to being more in the neighborhood in DV terms, Mars Orbit is a good place to collect materials mined elsewhere. Moving chunks of stuff weighing thousands of tons anywhere near earth would raise too much opposition.

Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #64 on: 01/02/2018 12:40 AM »

There are going to be immense incentives to innovate in the areas of power production & distribution; eclss; and robotic automation to support and grow the colony.  All that innovation will have practical use on earth and in other areas; it can be licensed to companies on earth, in cis-lunar space, and eventually elsewhere.

I wouldn't be surprised if for some long period of time innovation occurs on Mars; gets licensed to Earth companies; manufactured in bulk on Earth, and the final product is bought/shipped to Mars.
Any incentives that exist on Mars will exist on Earth as well, and Earth will be able to manufacture and get products to Mars cheaper than building them in situ. Regular flights from Earth will only reduce prices further, making the situation worse for a Mars export economy. for a product sent to an asteroid, the total cost of manufacture+transport will be far higher from mars than earth.

I can't see much of the technology developed specifically for life on Mars useful on Earth unless we need to start moving people into the Sahara or tundra, but it might be a good place to develope tech for other, harder colonies.

Then again, Mars won't necessarily have a huge head start over the Moon. And Mars or the moon won't be any better then Earth at developing for the more esoteric aspects of Titan or wherever.

And I can't see "Mars" licensing anything. It'll be corporations based on Earth with Mars research facilities. The IP will be registered on Earth.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 02:50 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline TripD

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #65 on: 01/02/2018 06:15 AM »
In line with what AncientU brought up about mining the asteroid belt, Mars could provide an easier place to land for repairs and supplies than making the trip back to earth.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #66 on: 01/02/2018 07:19 AM »
In addition to being more in the neighborhood in DV terms, Mars Orbit is a good place to collect materials mined elsewhere. Moving chunks of stuff weighing thousands of tons anywhere near earth would raise too much opposition.
The trouble with all arguments that being "X is better than Y because it's lower delta V/shallower gravity well" is there's usually somewhere even better than that.

So the best place for setting up a service base to support ships in the asteroid belt is an asteroid, followed by the Martian Moons, followed by Mars.

What might  change this is the confirmation of Methane deposits on Mars in usable quantities.

Without that Mars is fairly energy poor, given the staggering energy needs of PV production from raw materials (or the equally staggering surface areas you need if you're using lower efficiency thin film technology, conservatively about 2 1/4x larger). Otherwise it's a case of shipping at least a maritime sized nuclear reactor to Mars, and that's not happening any time soon.
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Offline jpo234

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #67 on: 01/02/2018 11:32 AM »


What do you see as the attractions of moving to Mars?

This is going to be a little bit un-PC.

Looking at colonization movements on earth, it's obvious that certain groups of people were willing to endure hardship to escape social developments that they fundamentally disagreed with. This was true for religious reasons as well as political ones.

What is going to be a mega trend in the middle of this century that some groups of people will disagree so strongly with, that they would be willing to go to Mars to escape it. Additionally, they must be able to afford it.

My answer: mass displacement by climate change and population growth putting immigration pressure on Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

We already see a strong reaction to comparatively small movements. When there are literally millions of people trying and at least partially succeeding to get into Europe, this could push wealthy and well educated Europeans to look for a way out.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #68 on: 01/02/2018 03:18 PM »
In line with what AncientU brought up about mining the asteroid belt, Mars could provide an easier place to land for repairs and supplies than making the trip back to earth.

They will likely have a supply schedule based on the transfer window openings, and not based on just dV. After all, this would be a future where BFS tankers are launching daily: dV budgets will not be as constrained as they've historically been.
There are intangibles, too: if you have been making a ton of money mining an asteroid for a couple years and have a choice on where to return to, would you choose a tunnel or tin can on mars, or a tropical beach?

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #69 on: 01/02/2018 03:38 PM »
In line with what AncientU brought up about mining the asteroid belt, Mars could provide an easier place to land for repairs and supplies than making the trip back to earth.

They will likely have a supply schedule based on the transfer window openings, and not based on just dV. After all, this would be a future where BFS tankers are launching daily: dV budgets will not be as constrained as they've historically been.
There are intangibles, too: if you have been making a ton of money mining an asteroid for a couple years and have a choice on where to return to, would you choose a tunnel or tin can on mars, or a tropical beach?

Have we considered the implications of orbital mechanics regarding basing out of Mars or basing out of near Earth? Don't the launch windows to a particular asteroid from Mars occur only about half as often as they do from near Earth? Or is it worse than that? Just off the top, I think it is much worse than that. The implication is that, based out of Mars, travel time of a mission to a typical asteroid in the center of the belt might last for a decade while from Earth the same mission might be only 3 years travel time.

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Offline mgeagon

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #70 on: 01/02/2018 04:03 PM »
Don't the launch windows to a particular asteroid from Mars occur only about half as often as they do from near Earth? Or is it worse than that? Just off the top, I think it is much worse than that. The implication is that, based out of Mars, travel time of a mission to a typical asteroid in the center of the belt might last for a decade while from Earth the same mission might be only 3 years travel time.
Very interesting post and perhaps true for one-off missions per synod. Conversely, isn't the period of engagement much longer for Mars? Could a supply ship, using much less dv, make it to an asteroid, drop off cargo and pick up a return load for Mars (or one of its moons) in the same window?

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Offline Eer

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #71 on: 01/02/2018 04:31 PM »
Glad to see recognition of the various different economies and the roles they'll play.  To summarize, there are at least these separate economy sectors:

1) Martian domestic economy - the local production as well as import of critical resources and services to support the lives and production on and around (near orbit) Mars

2) Martian-Asteroid Export economy - services and resources provided to asteroid miners and outer planet science efforts

3) Martian-Earth Orbit economy - services and resources provided to orbital infrastructure around Earth and the Moon.  I suspect this will be pretty small potatoes for a long time.

The real economic impact to Earth, I think, will come from asteroid exploitation.  So, two more to consider:

4) Asteroid-Mars export economy - export of resources mined and perhaps refined from the Asteroids back to support the Martian infrastructure and colony effort

5) Asteroid-Earth export economy - export of resources mined and refined from asteroids to near-Earth orbital (and perhaps delivered to Earth and Moon surface) infrastructure and operations.

The point about orbital periods of Mars vs Earth against Asteroid orbital periods is a very good one - Mars will linger near particular asteroids longer, but will visit them less often.  Still, I'd think the reduced Delta-V to get there from Mars (and return) will make servicing asteroid miners easier from Mars than from Earth orbit.

In terms of bias, I still tend to think the L5 society and G.K. O'Neil had it largely right - that we'll discover that providing gravity at a level that makes return to Earth easier on the voyager, and providing adequate radiation shielding, all while eliminating the deep-gravity-well penalty of surface operations - well, that we'll decide the Asteroid miners will do better working from orbiting habitats than from surface colonies.  But I don't doubt it will take a longish time to build the infrastructure to build such habitats for general use.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #72 on: 01/02/2018 04:42 PM »
Don't the launch windows to a particular asteroid from Mars occur only about half as often as they do from near Earth? Or is it worse than that? Just off the top, I think it is much worse than that. The implication is that, based out of Mars, travel time of a mission to a typical asteroid in the center of the belt might last for a decade while from Earth the same mission might be only 3 years travel time.
Very interesting post and perhaps true for one-off missions per synod. Conversely, isn't the period of engagement much longer for Mars? Could a supply ship, using much less dv, make it to an asteroid, drop off cargo and pick up a return load for Mars (or one of its moons) in the same window?

Mark Eagon

Well, I guess the answer is that the mining infrastructure will be out of Mars while the humans, if any, doing the mining will be based out of Earth.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #73 on: 01/02/2018 08:41 PM »
It is all a matter of economics.

If the value of the item is some factor >2X than the cost of transport then shipping the item will likely be the norm.

If the value of the item is <than the cost of transport then local manufacture will be the norm.

For those items in between these two cases would initially be shipped and eventually manufactured locally but have little incentive to do so. As been postulated that the shipping costs will decrease there will be decreasing incentive to manufacture these items that fall between the economic markers.

And BTW this applies for both directions of shipping of between Earth and Mars or between Mars and other solar system destinations.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #74 on: 01/06/2018 03:34 AM »
I think the major export of a Mars settlement for the first many years will be information in a wider sense.
I believe this will be the case as well. I also think that, at least at first, currency will be based on the value of mass transport to/from Mars.
For example, I could go to Mars as a "human rover", someone on Earth could send a request like "look under that rock", and I would agree to do it for a certain amount of mass credit on a future trip (i.e. 1 Kg equivalent). That credit could be managed as a crypto currency that I can trade, or I can use it to send myself stuff from Earth, or buy my ticket back once I get enough mass.
The credits could even be traded like bitcoin so, theoretically, we could start the Mars economy right now.

I wonder if that's the reason why Musk started bitcoin... just kidding.

Offline octavo

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #75 on: 01/06/2018 05:41 AM »


I wonder if that's the reason why Musk started bitcoin... just kidding.

Oh you!!

Seriously though, it's already been done...

http://marscoin.org/faq/

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #76 on: 01/06/2018 02:53 PM »


I wonder if that's the reason why Musk started bitcoin... just kidding.

Oh you!!

Seriously though, it's already been done...

http://marscoin.org/faq/
Thanks. I learned something today.
However, my thought was that the only way to "mine" the currency would be to pay/reserve some amount of mass from Earth to Mars.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #77 on: 01/06/2018 05:23 PM »
It is all a matter of economics.

If the value of the item is some factor >2X than the cost of transport then shipping the item will likely be the norm.

If the value of the item is <than the cost of transport then local manufacture will be the norm.

For those items in between these two cases would initially be shipped and eventually manufactured locally but have little incentive to do so. As been postulated that the shipping costs will decrease there will be decreasing incentive to manufacture these items that fall between the economic markers.

And BTW this applies for both directions of shipping of between Earth and Mars or between Mars and other solar system destinations.
In principle I'd agree with you.

The problem is that in our modern world there are a lot of complex devices that are cheap on Earth but have very complex supply chains. 

So you have the a whole bunch of stuff that's cheap to buy on Earth, but so complex to mfg its virtually impossible to build a supply chain that complex on Mars in any reasonable timeframe (the energy input is another matter, but Methane deposits would help a great deal on that front, if they are extractable).

Keep in mind Musk has said freight prices as $130/Kg as a target, and I wouldn't expect SX freight prices (like their reused booster prices) to start dropping anytime soon once transport begins.  :(
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #78 on: 01/06/2018 06:09 PM »
Glad to see recognition of the various different economies and the roles they'll play.  To summarize, there are at least these separate economy sectors:

1) Martian domestic economy - the local production as well as import of critical resources and services to
support the lives and production on and around (near orbit) Mars
These are 2 separate things. The internal settlement economy can be run on anything you like. Call them "Musk Dollars,"  "Pirate Ninjas" or "Grand Poobahs." You do something, or make something in the settlement and you get a reward. You can swap the reward for other goods and services inside the settlement.

The issue is how you convert that into stuff outside the settlement. 

Consider a candy bar weighing say 50grams. With freight at $130/kg that's a $6.5 minimum candy bar.

A Big Mac & fries direct from Earth could  get quite expensive.
Quote from: Eer
2) Martian-Asteroid Export economy - services and resources provided to asteroid miners and outer planet science efforts
Again, really 2 separate things. Especially the idea of crewed outer planet expeditions.
In particular what happens if you have a re-supply port on Mars? Could you support a fast run to Mars, then load with (martian grown) supplies and ISRU propellant for the run to say Jupiter? Given engine thrust does not change with surface gravity an ascent vehicle could bring up a lot more stuff if it wasn't going on to Earth. How does that change NASA's (or anyone else's) exploration architecture?

Mars as a beach head to the rest of the Solar System sounds like a whole thread on its own, but sadly quite OT for this thread.
Quote from: Eer
3) Martian-Earth Orbit economy - services and resources provided to orbital infrastructure around Earth and the Moon.  I suspect this will be pretty small potatoes for a long time.
If ever. It's the delta V argument. Mars undercuts Earth (if you can weight the minimum transit range of 90 million miles) but Moon undercuts Mars 2:1 (not to mention 3 days from Moon, how long from Mars?)
The real economic impact to Earth, I think, will come from asteroid exploitation.  So, two more to consider:
Quote from: Eer
4) Asteroid-Mars export economy - export of resources mined and perhaps refined from the Asteroids back to support the Martian infrastructure and colony effort
I suspect you're envisioning crews of men in long johns with pickaxes over their shoulders.

IRL the simple answer is to just crash it into Mars and work the crash site, or stick solar sails on it an send it direct to Earth orbit.
Quote from: Eer
5) Asteroid-Earth export economy - export of resources mined and refined from asteroids to near-Earth orbital (and perhaps delivered to Earth and Moon surface) infrastructure and operations.
And you expect this to start within a human lifetime of the start of Mars settlement?
Quote from: Eer
The point about orbital periods of Mars vs Earth against Asteroid orbital periods is a very good one - Mars will linger near particular asteroids longer, but will visit them less often.  Still, I'd think the reduced Delta-V to get there from Mars (and return) will make servicing asteroid miners easier from Mars than from Earth orbit.
Unless they skip Mars altogether and set up a service base on a large asteroid.
Quote from: Eer
In terms of bias, I still tend to think the L5 society and G.K. O'Neil had it largely right - that we'll discover that providing gravity at a level that makes return to Earth easier on the voyager, and providing adequate radiation shielding, all while eliminating the deep-gravity-well penalty of surface operations - well, that we'll decide the Asteroid miners will do better working from orbiting habitats than from surface colonies.  But I don't doubt it will take a longish time to build the infrastructure to build such habitats for general use.
And I'd agree with you.  A GK O'Neil settlement is the "Concorde" solution to space settlement, while what  we're seeing right now is more the SR71 solution (and yes sometimes Concorde did see SR71's out the cabin windows. Despite the 50% speed improvement I don't think anyone wanted to swap places with the SR71 crews).
« Last Edit: 01/06/2018 06:14 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #79 on: 01/06/2018 08:25 PM »
It is all a matter of economics.

If the value of the item is some factor >2X than the cost of transport then shipping the item will likely be the norm.

If the value of the item is <than the cost of transport then local manufacture will be the norm.

For those items in between these two cases would initially be shipped and eventually manufactured locally but have little incentive to do so. As been postulated that the shipping costs will decrease there will be decreasing incentive to manufacture these items that fall between the economic markers.

And BTW this applies for both directions of shipping of between Earth and Mars or between Mars and other solar system destinations.
In principle I'd agree with you.

The problem is that in our modern world there are a lot of complex devices that are cheap on Earth but have very complex supply chains. 

So you have the a whole bunch of stuff that's cheap to buy on Earth, but so complex to mfg its virtually impossible to build a supply chain that complex on Mars in any reasonable timeframe (the energy input is another matter, but Methane deposits would help a great deal on that front, if they are extractable).

Keep in mind Musk has said freight prices as $130/Kg as a target, and I wouldn't expect SX freight prices (like their reused booster prices) to start dropping anytime soon once transport begins.  :(
You are correct it can get complex.

The end item in economics becomes is it cheaper to buy the shipped item or item made with shipped parts or the wholly locally made item. This applies both for the Mars economy and for the Earth economy (as it ir related to items shipped from Mars) or for other space economies (Moon, Asteroids, etc).

There are always the value added of an item due to where it came from. For a while you could probably sell a gram of Mars regolith on Earth for $2-$20/g ($2,000-20,000/kg) especially since the primary cost is shipping costs of $200/kg. But it is not likely that this market will exist for long at these prices and the volume would be about only a couple of mt per year. But 1mt could bring in $2-20M.

There will likely be a significant number of products shipped from Mars that have initially a high extrinsic value and degrade over time but other items that could have a lower initial valuation and that later could be quite high because of the rarity or association with the first couple of manned Mars missions. This extrinsic value market will always be there just as there exists such extrinsic item markets on Earth for items from certain locations. It will experience growth and shrinkage as old items are phased out or go out of style and new items become hot ticket items. Eventually the Mars tourist market would include selling to the tourists trinkets at very high markups on Mars that they themselves then transport back with them to Earth. The trinkets markets is an export market no matter where the trinkets are purchased Mars or Earth.

The Mars export economy needs something much more substantial than the trinkets market. And that market could literally be the Mars atmosphere. Mining carbon from the Mars atmosphere could be big export item, easy to "mine" and ship as LCH4. The market for carbon would be other space locations with poor or no local carbon resources such as the Earth Moon. But it must meet the above stipulations about value and shipping costs plus the other stipulation of that the value at the source is much lower than the shipping cost such that the margin/price of the shipped item to the cost of producing locally returns a profit.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #80 on: 01/06/2018 10:13 PM »
For example, I could go to Mars as a "human rover", someone on Earth could send a request like "look under that rock", and I would agree to do it for a certain amount of mass credit on a future trip (i.e. 1 Kg equivalent). That credit could be managed as a crypto currency that I can trade, or I can use it to send myself stuff from Earth, or buy my ticket back once I get enough mass.
The credits could even be traded like bitcoin so, theoretically, we could start the Mars economy right now.

I wonder if that's the reason why Musk started bitcoin... just kidding.
When there 6 people on Mars that would be a valuable service.

When there are 600 on Mars? Not so much.  When there are 6 000?

Does a career in the elderly care sector not appeal to you?  :)
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #81 on: 01/06/2018 10:16 PM »
You are correct it can get complex.

The end item in economics becomes is it cheaper to buy the shipped item or item made with shipped parts or the wholly locally made item. This applies both for the Mars economy and for the Earth economy (as it ir related to items shipped from Mars) or for other space economies (Moon, Asteroids, etc).

There are always the value added of an item due to where it came from. For a while you could probably sell a gram of Mars regolith on Earth for $2-$20/g ($2,000-20,000/kg) especially since the primary cost is shipping costs of $200/kg. But it is not likely that this market will exist for long at these prices and the volume would be about only a couple of mt per year. But 1mt could bring in $2-20M.
Agreed, but that's because those products are not physically used up, in the way that "Made on Mars" water,  beers or Whisky could become a continuing import.

Quote from: oldAtlas_Eguy
The Mars export economy needs something much more substantial than the trinkets market. And that market could literally be the Mars atmosphere. Mining carbon from the Mars atmosphere could be big export item, easy to "mine" and ship as LCH4. The market for carbon would be other space locations with poor or no local carbon resources such as the Earth Moon. But it must meet the above stipulations about value and shipping costs plus the other stipulation of that the value at the source is much lower than the shipping cost such that the margin/price of the shipped item to the cost of producing locally returns a profit.
There is possible if the reports about Martian Clathrates are correct.

The problem with trade is how much energy it takes to move stuff around the Solar System, compared with how much it takes to move it around the surface of the Earth.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #82 on: 01/07/2018 07:30 PM »
Flying stuff around the Earth is about the same as launching it to orbit, energy-wise. So it's not as different as you might think.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #83 on: 01/08/2018 12:32 AM »
Flying stuff around the Earth is about the same as launching it to orbit, energy-wise. So it's not as different as you might think.
True, but what is the relevance of that to the thread title?
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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #84 on: 01/08/2018 01:25 AM »
Flying stuff around the Earth is about the same as launching it to orbit, energy-wise. So it's not as different as you might think.
True, but what is the relevance of that to the thread title?
The relevance is that we trade all around the world with air freight on Earth, which is within an order of magnitude of the fundamental energy needed for Mars trade. I was responding to your comment, so one would assume it's just about as relevant as your comment:
...
The problem with trade is how much energy it takes to move stuff around the Solar System, compared with how much it takes to move it around the surface of the Earth.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online garcianc

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #85 on: 01/08/2018 03:01 AM »
For example, I could go to Mars as a "human rover", someone on Earth could send a request like "look under that rock", and I would agree to do it for a certain amount of mass credit on a future trip (i.e. 1 Kg equivalent). That credit could be managed as a crypto currency that I can trade, or I can use it to send myself stuff from Earth, or buy my ticket back once I get enough mass.
The credits could even be traded like bitcoin so, theoretically, we could start the Mars economy right now.

I wonder if that's the reason why Musk started bitcoin... just kidding.
When there 6 people on Mars that would be a valuable service.

When there are 600 on Mars? Not so much.  When there are 6 000?

Does a career in the elderly care sector not appeal to you?  :)
I am afraid the elderly care comment went over my head... I am of a certain age, so perhaps there is a certain accidental irony.  :)

Also, I am not sure I understand what part of my comment you are addressing in proportion to the Mars population. Is it the currency standard or the exploratory research assistance? We have over 7 billion people on Earth and both are still very much in demand here. At times, I have been given funding to just look at something and tell people what I see, right here on [a nicely populated] Earth, and all I produce are bits and bytes.

There is a line in the movie "Contact" where the lead character, a scientist, while traveling through a wormhole and trying to describe the experience, says "they should have sent a poet". As beautiful as that line is at face value, another thing to take from it is that, until we know what questions to ask, exploration and descriptive observation will rule the day.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #86 on: 01/08/2018 07:37 AM »
I am afraid the elderly care comment went over my head... I am of a certain age, so perhaps there is a certain accidental irony.  :)
On the internet no one knows your age.

However my comment from my somewhat whimsical view that in the long run the killer app for Mars will be as a retirement community for very rich older people. I've generically referred to this as
"Musk Villas, Gracious Living for the Extraordinarily Well Off." Keep in mind this is Musk's stated goal. To retire to Mars. The settlement is just to have somewhere to go shopping.   :)

Consider. Feeling 2/3s lighter. Enforced antiseptic environment.  No crime. Potentially spectacular views (26 mile deep canyon).  A superb environment, if you can afford the fees of course.

My model is the towns around naval and army bases that have grown as ex-service people have left the services and settled down around the site.

Obviously this lacks the high drama people assume must come with settling a new planet, but it does generate an ongoing revenue stream into the local economy, which is far more important.

Mars will not be like all those old Western TV shows of the 50's and 60's. "The Little House on the (Martian) Prairie" has also been cancelled.  :( 
With one transport service from one country operating under strict government controls of that country on who gets on board to begin with you can bet it won't be anything like the way the US was settled.

 
Quote from: garcianc
Also, I am not sure I understand what part of my comment you are addressing in proportion to the Mars population. Is it the currency standard or the exploratory research assistance? We have over 7 billion people on Earth and both are still very much in demand here. At times, I have been given funding to just look at something and tell people what I see, right here on [a nicely populated] Earth, and all I produce are bits and bytes.

There is a line in the movie "Contact" where the lead character, a scientist, while traveling through a wormhole and trying to describe the experience, says "they should have sent a poet". As beautiful as that line is at face value, another thing to take from it is that, until we know what questions to ask, exploration and descriptive observation will rule the day.
I was referring to supply and demand in different situations.

Hiring an astronaut on the ISS to spend X hours running an experiment is very expensive, because there are very few of them and they can't work a 24hr schedule (apparently it's too noisy). So their time is very carefully budgeted. You want fluid levels checked on an experiment? That's X $100. You want it taken apart? That's going to cost serious money.

Put 24 people on ISS and improve the sleep quarters sound proofing (a lot) and that price drops a lot too. 

I'm guessing you've been paid to act as a trained observer. That suggests  you a)Have had some sort of training to observe whatever it is you go and look for and b) Customers are aware of that training and can find and hire you because of it.  That is not quite some guy off the street, so again that makes you a valuable resource, unless others enter the market.

What's a valuable resource when only 6 can do it is less so at 600 and much less so when there are 6000 people on a planet.  Of course if your observation skill remain unique then you remain competitive.

Flying stuff around the Earth is about the same as launching it to orbit, energy-wise. So it's not as different as you might think.
True, but what is the relevance of that to the thread title?
The relevance is that we trade all around the world with air freight on Earth, which is within an order of magnitude of the fundamental energy needed for Mars trade. I was responding to your comment, so one would assume it's just about as relevant as your comment:
...
The problem with trade is how much energy it takes to move stuff around the Solar System, compared with how much it takes to move it around the surface of the Earth.
That makes a bit more sense.

You might like to look at what  is shipped by air that's valuable enough to justify air freight rates. 
Most of it is because there is (for one reason or another) an extreme time pressure to get it somewhere.

Now when you have a transport system that's a)Very slow and b)Very expensive what you send has to be a) Not degradable over the time and storage conditions of transit and b) Valuable enough to make a profit doing so. That probably rules out fresh flowers or fish for example. 

No one ships metal ore by air freight (they use bulk ore carrying ships), and no one's going to ship it from Mars at 10x that price (if you're lucky. Musk stated he's expecting freight rates to be 130/Kg, that's a $130 000 a tonne).

My rule of thumb is when the man who really wants to go to Mars (so do I, but I don't run multiple $Bn corporations), has been thinking about settling on Mars for 20 years, has a Degree in Economics, and understands how important a cash flow is to keeping something running says most exports from Mars are not going to be economic I tend to think he may know something about the subject I don't.

You're not disagreeing with me. You're disagreeing with Elon Musk.  It's possible you're right, but it's it doesn't look probable.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 07:39 AM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #87 on: 01/08/2018 12:28 PM »
I order stuff on the Internet from China, and it often comes via air freight. I don't have any extreme timeliness requirements, it's simply not that expensive. $5 per pound? Well if I'm just getting a few small electronic components, then that's just a couple bucks. Cheap, and beats waiting a month or two for ship.

Likewise, fundamentally Mars transport won't have to be that much more expensive, though it will take a lot longer!


...and who cares if I'm disagreeing with Elon Musk. His point about there never being anything valuable enough is in direct contradiction with his price goals/estimates, so one of them has to be wrong.

I think his overall point that we can't rely on some traditional business case to pay back the investment needed for a Mars city is correct, though. It's got to be essentially philanthropic, like building an operahouse or art museum or whatever. For the betterment of humankind, but not gonna pay for its own construction even if you need to charge for admission to cover operating expenses.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 12:36 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online garcianc

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #88 on: 01/08/2018 02:53 PM »
What's a valuable resource when only 6 can do it is less so at 600 and much less so when there are 6000 people on a planet.

Since you wondered, I am a consultant/researcher. Although I have training, I admit that a lot of my work comes due to my proximity, physical and social, to the area of interest.

This discussion is starting to get circular, so I will add as my final contribution that we have millions of people here on Earth who study our planet in one form or another and that industry does not diminish as the population grows. Some examples from the bureau of labor statistics:

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geoscientists.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-scientists.htm

I have read thousands of research papers and I have never read one whose conclusion was "too much research has been done".

As an example of many available, here is a paper from the Icarus Journal, http://sirius.bu.edu/withers/pppp/pdf/withericarus2013.pdf(Withers, P., & Pratt, R. (2013). An observational study of the response of the upper atmosphere of Mars to lower atmospheric dust storms. Icarus, 225(1), 378-389.), studying Mars' atmosphere response to dust storms. The study itself states that some of the observed instrument data cannot be explained physically within the constraints of this study. The study also had to rely on simulations for some of its findings. I am not knocking the study. I am simply stating that observational research can be greatly enhanced by simply introducing more observers (even if they are only experts at being on Mars), and there is significant non-trivial value to this.


Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #89 on: 01/08/2018 04:31 PM »
I order stuff on the Internet from China, and it often comes via air freight. I don't have any extreme timeliness requirements, it's simply not that expensive. $5 per pound? Well if I'm just getting a few small electronic components, then that's just a couple bucks. Cheap, and beats waiting a month or two for ship.
It's "not that expensive" because a) There are a lot of suppliers for transport services b)It's very light and c) Airline total costs are normally < 3x fuel costs and I'd expect cargo operators to be lower.

If Musk achieves his goal of $130/Kg to Mars that's $7.38 for a 2oz candy bar, or indeed 2oz's of anything else. I'm not sure what the price for a 2oz candy bar is in North America, but I'm guessing it's rather lower than that.

Quote from: Robotbeat
Likewise, fundamentally Mars transport won't have to be that much more expensive, though it will take a lot longer!
You seem to be ignoring a couple of legs of the journey.

The rule of thumb Bono & Gatland used in the 1960's was the energy to orbit was equal to the London/Sydney round trip (because Gatland was British, but choose any equivalent journey you like)

But shipping stuff from Mars (the subject of this thread) is
Mars surface to orbit
Mars orbit to Earth orbit
Earth orbit to Earth's surface.

There are no other proven markets other than Earth.  The lack of an obvious existing market is one of the reasons smallsat launchers are such a tough sell, it's all ones and twos.

And BTW jet engine Isp is in the 3000-6000 sec range. It's only the total energy requirement that is equivalent to Earth launch. A rocket engine with the thrust of a Merlin and the Isp of a jet would be revolutionary to space transport. Only NTR even comes (slightly) close to that at 900-1000secs.

So yes it will be fundamentally more expensive with anything like a conventional engine.

My instinct is if anyone wants to be competitive from Mars they have to side step BFS entirely. A solar powered mass driver to get off planet (without storage, to eliminate battery replacement costs) and solar sails to get to anywhere else in the Solar system with the payload. IOW the only propellants are electricity and sunlight.

Quote from: Robotbeat
...and who cares if I'm disagreeing with Elon Musk. His point about there never being anything valuable enough is in direct contradiction with his price goals/estimates, so one of them has to be wrong.
I'ms sure he doesn't. One way Musk is right. The other way he is wrong, and vice versa. It's an each way bet.  He wins either way.  :)
Quote from: Robotbeat
I think his overall point that we can't rely on some traditional business case to pay back the investment needed for a Mars city is correct, though. It's got to be essentially philanthropic, like building an operahouse or art museum or whatever. For the betterment of humankind, but not gonna pay for its own construction even if you need to charge for admission to cover operating expenses.
Has anyone asked him to justify it on that basis?

It does raise the question if you strictly calculated all the setting up costs for a new colony or settlement versus what the direct investors put into doing that has any settlement ever broken even?

I literally do not know but isn't the fact that SX will be funding the initial building quite important? Hasn't it always been the case that SX is expected to foot the basic bill without expecting a (direct) return on that investment?

It's the difference between capital and revenue investment. The "exprot economy2 is the revenue side of this process.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 04:37 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #90 on: 01/08/2018 04:35 PM »
I order stuff on the Internet from China, and it often comes via air freight. I don't have any extreme timeliness requirements, it's simply not that expensive. $5 per pound? Well if I'm just getting a few small electronic components, then that's just a couple bucks. Cheap, and beats waiting a month or two for ship.

I super agree with Robotbeat that the conventional way of thinking that John Smith 19 et al espouses completely misses the mark. (and given how many different threads it's been espoused in and rebutted, it might be just like Ed Kyle and Falcon economics, completely not a changeable viewpoint regardless of  how much material is presented to counter it)

That said, China shipping is a really bad example. Turns out the USPS is heavily subsidizing inbound postal (which usually is air) shipping from China (more or less accidentally), and the rates in the other direction are far higher.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 04:50 PM by Lar »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #91 on: 01/08/2018 04:35 PM »
There is already an export for the Mars economy: INFORMATION. Governments have spent $Billons to export back to Earth information. Just because there will be a colony on Mars does not mean that the value of information will become "worthless". Just that the information will stratify into categories of relative values. Also with a colony the ability to transport information "transmission" and its cost in $/bit will be several orders of magnitude cheaper than currently. Cost of transport of information is considered more of a share of fixed cost than a recurring cost. A capability is setup and then its use is sold depending on the life of the system and the % of max capacity of it's usage. So the export of information could still literally be a multi Billion industry export but instead of being a few $100M/Kbit it will be $1K/Gbit. For a yearly industry revenue of $100B that represents 100Tbits of data/year. That for a even as low data rate system able to transport 1Gb/s is only 0.3% of it's capacity.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #92 on: 01/08/2018 04:54 PM »
I super agree with Robotbeat that the conventional way of thinking that John Smith 19 et al espouses completely misses the mark.
"Conventional" is one word that's rarely used about my thinking.  :)

I'd say the really conventional thinking around Musk's Mars plans (for those who just stumble across them)  are
a)He's crazy as an outhouse rat b) It's a colossal scam.

I doubt neither his sanity or his sincerity. Nor do I doubt his determination in pursuing his goals. I take him at his word and run with the implications of those words. When in doubt, follow the evidence.

So perhaps you could outline how you think my thinking is "conventional" ?
Quote from: Lar
That said, China shipping is a really bad example. Turns out the USPS is heavily subsidizing inbound shipping from China (more or less accidentally), and the rates in the other direction are far higher.
Thus demonstrating the fisks of extrapolating the universe from the view through a peephole?
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 04:55 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #93 on: 01/08/2018 05:03 PM »
There is already an export for the Mars economy: INFORMATION.

It's likely that mars will be a net importer of information. Streaming HD video will be a crucial link back to the rest of human civilization that i don't think many martians will want to go without.
I order stuff on the Internet from China, and it often comes via air freight. I don't have any extreme timeliness requirements, it's simply not that expensive. $5 per pound? Well if I'm just getting a few small electronic components, then that's just a couple bucks. Cheap, and beats waiting a month or two for ship.
That said, China shipping is a really bad example. Turns out the USPS is heavily subsidizing inbound shipping from China (more or less accidentally), and the rates in the other direction are far higher.

a better example: paying a premium and waiting a year for a block of ice from Antarctica. You can easily get any commodity cheaper, and certainly quicker, here than from Mars.

And don't forget that the ability to have a Mars colony spawns the ability to have a colony most anywhere in the solar system; Certainly the Moon. Would a senior citizen rather live anyplace of their choosing on the surface of the Earth, on Mars, the Moon, or maybe in a space station? Would they really want to be that far away from their grandchildren, if they could even come back to earth at all?
People on earth will be asking first whether it makes economic sense to get something from space, and then whether from the Moon or Mars, and i'm sure the moon is going to be a tough competitor.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 05:25 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #94 on: 01/08/2018 06:21 PM »
I super agree with Robotbeat that the conventional way of thinking that John Smith 19 et al espouses completely misses the mark.
"Conventional" is one word that's rarely used about my thinking.  :)

I'd say the really conventional thinking around Musk's Mars plans (for those who just stumble across them)  are
a)He's crazy as an outhouse rat b) It's a colossal scam.

I doubt neither his sanity or his sincerity. Nor do I doubt his determination in pursuing his goals. I take him at his word and run with the implications of those words. When in doubt, follow the evidence.

So perhaps you could outline how you think my thinking is "conventional" ?
Focused on the economic aspects such as return on investment for SpaceX, why would people go if they can't make money, etc.  Those don't matter. SpaceX was founded to do this and there are enough people that will go regardless of cost (and not just retirees), that there will be a robust traffic.

The closest model we have would be the land grant railroads. They built it. People came.

I agree with those that say that the moon and the asteroids are more economically compelling. But the cool thing is that colonizing Mars is a forcing function. Get Mars going and the other stuff falls out almost free (why not colonize the Moon while waiting for the next synod?) . Musk doesn't care. We end up an interplanetary species either way.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2018 06:23 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #95 on: 01/08/2018 07:37 PM »
I super agree with Robotbeat that the conventional way of thinking that John Smith 19 et al espouses completely misses the mark.
"Conventional" is one word that's rarely used about my thinking.  :)

I'd say the really conventional thinking around Musk's Mars plans (for those who just stumble across them)  are
a)He's crazy as an outhouse rat b) It's a colossal scam.

I doubt neither his sanity or his sincerity. Nor do I doubt his determination in pursuing his goals. I take him at his word and run with the implications of those words. When in doubt, follow the evidence.

So perhaps you could outline how you think my thinking is "conventional" ?
Focused on the economic aspects such as return on investment for SpaceX, why would people go if they can't make money, etc.  Those don't matter. SpaceX was founded to do this and there are enough people that will go regardless of cost (and not just retirees), that there will be a robust traffic.

The closest model we have would be the land grant railroads. They built it. People came.

I agree with those that say that the moon and the asteroids are more economically compelling. But the cool thing is that colonizing Mars is a forcing function. Get Mars going and the other stuff falls out almost free (why not colonize the Moon while waiting for the next synod?) . Musk doesn't care. We end up an interplanetary species either way.
Hmmm...

Think of a Mars colony like a fungus...
Once you got it ... It is everywhere! :P

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #96 on: 01/08/2018 09:29 PM »
a better example: paying a premium and waiting a year for a block of ice from Antarctica. You can easily get any commodity cheaper, and certainly quicker, here than from Mars.
Yes, in terms of timescale and mass that sounds more appropriate.

Is buying blocks of Antartic ice an actual thing, or was that more of a more accurate metaphor?
Quote from: RoboGoofers
And don't forget that the ability to have a Mars colony spawns the ability to have a colony most anywhere in the solar system; Certainly the Moon. Would a senior citizen rather live anyplace of their choosing on the surface of the Earth, on Mars, the Moon, or maybe in a space station? Would they really want to be that far away from their grandchildren, if they could even come back to earth at all?
People on earth will be asking first whether it makes economic sense to get something from space, and then whether from the Moon or Mars, and i'm sure the moon is going to be a tough competitor.
Yes, it's the "My delta V is lower than your delta V" argument.

An interesting counter argument may develop if it turns out that 1/6g cause more health issues for seniors than 1/3g, making Mars the preferred retirement destination.

This however is only a possible issue, and will probably take years to surface.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #97 on: 01/08/2018 10:04 PM »
Focused on the economic aspects such as return on investment for SpaceX, why would people go if they can't make money, etc.  Those don't matter. SpaceX was founded to do this and there are enough people that will go regardless of cost (and not just retirees), that there will be a robust traffic.
There are 2 sides to SX's investment. The development and build costs and the operating costs.  While Musk is CEO I'd say the R&D costs are effectively taken care of (as long as SX can launch enough payloads to make enough profit to afford it) and in principle once SX has the first 18 passengers their entire (worst case) propellant costs are covered

I'm sure that plenty of people can pull together the money to go to Mars, but that's the easy part.

My point about "Musk Villas" is it gives people a job to do on Mars, and hence an income, with the chance to put away a nest egg to stay on Mars after they stop working as a care giver.

Without jobs for people to do on Mars you options are limited to
a) People with personal trust funds.
b) Some sort of public welfare scheme, which seems to be what a lot of Native American reservation residents have been dependent on.

Nothing wrong with either group, but who will be funding b)? The USG will set up a Welfare Office on Mars?
Quote from: Lar
The closest model we have would be the land grant railroads. They built it. People came.
Given  that the American continent was formally discovered in 1492 and the first railroad land grant dates from 1859 (367 years later) I think the settlement started somewhat before the railroads.

This site describes what actually happened.

http://www.coxrail.com/land-grants.asp

Like a lot of US history that people think they know the reality was rather different. I find it quite interesting that some of those land grant are still unsold, after more than a century.
Quote from: Lar
I agree with those that say that the moon and the asteroids are more economically compelling. But the cool thing is that colonizing Mars is a forcing function. Get Mars going and the other stuff falls out almost free (why not colonize the Moon while waiting for the next synod?) . Musk doesn't care. We end up an interplanetary species either way.
And I might agree, but gravity closer to Earth normal, and even a minor atmosphere, make a large difference
over the long run.   
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Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #98 on: 01/08/2018 10:52 PM »
The closest model we have would be the land grant railroads. They built it. People came.
Given  that the American continent was formally discovered in 1492
no, it wasn't
Quote
and the first railroad land grant dates from 1859 (367 years later) I think the settlement started somewhat before the railroads.

You missed my point. We've been exploring Mars for a long time, but it will be Musk that gets things really rolling. Just as with the North American continent, the advent of reliable transport got what was a slow buildup going a lot faster. The settlement of the western half of the continent really took off once railroads got there. The railroads were built on the "if you build it they will come" model.

As for the rest ...the astute reader will realise you're just repeating yourself and stuck in the very same conventional thinking I said you were.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #99 on: 01/09/2018 08:25 AM »
You missed my point. We've been exploring Mars for a long time, but it will be Musk that gets things really rolling. Just as with the North American continent, the advent of reliable transport got what was a slow buildup going a lot faster. The settlement of the western half of the continent really took off once railroads got there. The railroads were built on the "if you build it they will come" model.
Except with existing communities already there railroads knew there was a market for goods and (in principle) the ability to refuel and rewater.

None of that exists on Mars yet. There has been no settlement for the transport system to service.
Quote from: Lar
As for the rest ...the astute reader will realise you're just repeating yourself and stuck in the very same conventional thinking I said you were.
The title of this thread is the "Martian export economy."

That's suggests some people think an actual economy has to be operating in order for a Mars settlement to have long term survival.

Here's the thing
I'm wary of analogical thinking, just as I'm wary of magical thinking. Sorry, "And then a miracle happens" isn't enough for me to view any system as better than a coin toss. Heads someone finds a way to do X, tails they don't. That's not really a business plan, as I understand the term.

The analogy with the the "Old West" is simply bogus.  :(
Settlement was basically uncontrolled. If you could get enough supplies together (or what you though were enough supplies) you could go where ever you wanted, without requiring any assistance. True, your chances of getting killed doing so were pretty high, but there was effectively no control. You wanted to go, you went.

Likewise for anyone with adequate skills (which at the technology level needed were more dispersed throughout the population) there was a real chance of a substantially better life, limited only by their ability to work the land.

But let's turn "conventional" thinking on its head for a moment.
Let's see.
For those prices I'd have to be either a successful business person, well paid professional or have access to a trust fund. As part of that I'm probably in a stable relationship with someone and we may have children.
We live in a quite nice house in a quite nice neighborhood.

But I want to go Mars. Yes!!
I want to uproot my family and take them to somewhere where the air, water and living space are entirely under someone else's control (and likely strictly limited for the rest of my lifetime) and a walk outside the (limited volume) of the habitat will kill me within 30 secs. I will give up all real time contact (and most delayed) contact with my friends and work colleagues and my work may be completely irrelevant on Mars, so I will have to learn a completely new set of skills. My primary task will be to continue to build out the settlement, making more space for more people like me. 

And I will do this by sacrificing most of the capital I've built up in my families house.

Here's the thing.
I want settlement to work, not just on Mars, but across the Solar System. "Want settlement to work" is not another way of saying "I believe in rainbows and Unicorns."

Basically the people who could do this in the Old West analogy are like the "Old Money" crowd in New York or San Francisco, or Chicago.

And AFAIK most of them stayed in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. They had the good life already. :(
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Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #100 on: 01/09/2018 05:26 PM »
While there might be certain goods that are exported, it will never get close to parity; Mars will always be an importer.

However, i can imagine that once they reach self-sufficiency imports of goods from earth will have a similar disadvantage, and potentially even be taxed. Trade might get closer to parity because the volume of trade would fall.

Offline jpo234

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #101 on: 01/09/2018 07:55 PM »


While there might be certain goods that are exported, it will never get close to parity; Mars will always be an importer. .

Always is a very long time.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #102 on: 01/09/2018 08:13 PM »
While there might be certain goods that are exported, it will never get close to parity; Mars will always be an importer. .

Always is a very long time.

sure, eventually earth will be consumed by the sun before mars, but i'm comfortable saying always. if you prefer, baring a extinction level disaster on earth it'll be a millennium at the soonest, but i suspect the cradle of all life in the solar system will always have an edge.

I assume this thread is not intended to speculate that far out. maybe 100 years from start of colonization.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2018 08:17 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #103 on: 01/09/2018 08:57 PM »
While there might be certain goods that are exported, it will never get close to parity; Mars will always be an importer.
I don't think anyone doubts that for at least a century. Obviously different people have different opinions on what that level of support needs to be. [EDIT Musk said in his 2017 presentation in the early days it would 90% cargo flights, 10% passengers. That has huge implications for the rate of settlement growth, unless you posit a very fast growing fleet or very high average number of pregnancies. ]

The question is can Mars exports generate enough revenue to offset its support costs, assuming SX will pick up the bill for building more BFS's and settlement housing as a given.
« Last Edit: 01/10/2018 03:53 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Vultur

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #104 on: 01/24/2018 05:56 AM »
Intellectual property is probably the primary thing. Mars colonists will be a highly self-selected group, very biased toward higher education and interest in science/engineering/technology than the average. If a Mars colony of significant size (as opposed to a simple outpost/base like ISS or South Pole Station) gets started, a 'Silicon Valley' center-of-innovation effect is extremely likely.

By the time it becomes established and there is a Mars-born generation - and Mars is starting to develop a cultural identity, maybe 30-50 years on - that probably gets embedded in the culture.

Physical exports are going to be very secondary, but they might exist -- probably will, since there will be some Mars-to-Earth ships anyway. They would be things valuable because of their rarity. There are probably gemstones on Mars - opal has apparently been discovered by MRO (http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/bill-dunford/20131014-the-gems-of-mars.html), Martian opal or peridot could be ridiculously valuable just because it is Martian, the same way natural pearls are more valued than cultured pearls...

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #105 on: 01/24/2018 10:36 PM »
Intellectual property is probably the primary thing. Mars colonists will be a highly self-selected group, very biased toward higher education and interest in science/engineering/technology than the average. If a Mars colony of significant size (as opposed to a simple outpost/base like ISS or South Pole Station) gets started,
Is there any particular reason for your use of the word "colony," apart from it being faster to type than "settlement"?
Aren't the main things 1)Must have a big enough bag of cash to afford the fare 2) Must want to live on a new planet more than being physically comfortable?
I'm not really sure where education comes into those criteria?
Quote from: Vultur
a 'Silicon Valley' center-of-innovation effect is extremely likely.
I'll refer you to my sig on my view of that.

Quote from: Vultur
By the time it becomes established and there is a Mars-born generation - and Mars is starting to develop a cultural identity, maybe 30-50 years on - that probably gets embedded in the culture.
About 20 yeas in if you want a serious shot at that 1 million population with a human lifetime.
Quote from: Vultur
Physical exports are going to be very secondary, but they might exist -- probably will, since there will be some Mars-to-Earth ships anyway. They would be things valuable because of their rarity. There are probably gemstones on Mars - opal has apparently been discovered by MRO (http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/bill-dunford/20131014-the-gems-of-mars.html), Martian opal or peridot could be ridiculously valuable just because it is Martian, the same way natural pearls are more valued than cultured pearls...
The trouble with rocks is that they are not used up, so unless the Martian opal are exceptionally high quality (I'm not sure how Opal quality is measured, or if Mars ones would be) there is a finite supply, but also a finite demand.
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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #106 on: 01/25/2018 06:49 AM »
The trouble with rocks is that they are not used up, so unless the Martian opal are exceptionally high quality (I'm not sure how Opal quality is measured, or if Mars ones would be) there is a finite supply, but also a finite demand.

Quite - it'd need to be very pretty in addition to being rare.
I for example bought some "Dickite", for reasons purely of comedy, I would not buy any again as it's not a particularly pretty rock.

I might pay $1000 for a pretty gem from Mars in the 1g range.
But, not very much more for 1kg.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #107 on: 01/25/2018 06:58 AM »
The trouble with rocks is that they are not used up, so unless the Martian opal are exceptionally high quality (I'm not sure how Opal quality is measured, or if Mars ones would be) there is a finite supply, but also a finite demand.

Quite - it'd need to be very pretty in addition to being rare.
I for example bought some "Dickite", for reasons purely of comedy, I would not buy any again as it's not a particularly pretty rock.

I might pay $1000 for a pretty gem from Mars in the 1g range.
But, not very much more for 1kg.
And other collectors might do likewise.

But then all your needs are met.

So every little helps certainly, but that's why a sustainable demand for a product(s) turns out to be needed, and tricky. Because the settlement will have  a sustained need for re-supply.
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Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #108 on: 01/25/2018 08:03 AM »
At a guess, how much money would be needed to cover the needs of the settlement for the foreseeable future? As in, if we accept that an export economy is perhaps not viable, then if Elon made a trillion dollars in his lifetime and gifted it all to the support of Mars colonization, how far would that get things? Or is that a drop in the ocean, given the magnitude of the challenge?

Offline JamesH65

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #109 on: 01/25/2018 11:01 AM »
At a guess, how much money would be needed to cover the needs of the settlement for the foreseeable future? As in, if we accept that an export economy is perhaps not viable, then if Elon made a trillion dollars in his lifetime and gifted it all to the support of Mars colonization, how far would that get things? Or is that a drop in the ocean, given the magnitude of the challenge?

Export economy will eventually become viable I suspect, but in a 100 year timescale, and probably with materials/IP that we haven't even invented yet.

Meanwhile, any Mars colony/settlement will be more for scientific, tourist and get away from it all purposes than to produce any exports. And that'll mean funding will have to come from the Earth. Maybe Musk, maybe others. There's plenty of money out there.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #110 on: 01/25/2018 11:56 AM »
At a guess, how much money would be needed to cover the needs of the settlement for the foreseeable future? As in, if we accept that an export economy is perhaps not viable, then if Elon made a trillion dollars in his lifetime and gifted it all to the support of Mars colonization, how far would that get things? Or is that a drop in the ocean, given the magnitude of the challenge?
Bingo. A sovereign wealth fund for Mars.
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Offline IRobot

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #111 on: 01/25/2018 12:21 PM »
At a guess, how much money would be needed to cover the needs of the settlement for the foreseeable future? As in, if we accept that an export economy is perhaps not viable, then if Elon made a trillion dollars in his lifetime and gifted it all to the support of Mars colonization, how far would that get things? Or is that a drop in the ocean, given the magnitude of the challenge?
$1T is a lot of money (doubt that Elon can do more than $200B, best case).
That would be enough money for infrastructure and subsidies.

Actual transportation and running costs could be substantially supported by the people moving there.

Still, I don't see much economic purpose of Mars, except perhaps as support for asteroid mining or outer system exploration.

One thing I've though is that on a future Eco-friendly planet, Earth might impose that a lot of polluting industries move to LEO, Earth-Moon L1/L2.
Perhaps Mars orbit would be more suitable for it, either to bring materials from the surface or in terms of delta-v from asteroids.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #112 on: 01/25/2018 12:33 PM »
At a guess, how much money would be needed to cover the needs of the settlement for the foreseeable future? As in, if we accept that an export economy is perhaps not viable, then if Elon made a trillion dollars in his lifetime and gifted it all to the support of Mars colonization, how far would that get things? Or is that a drop in the ocean, given the magnitude of the challenge?
$1T is a lot of money (doubt that Elon can do more than $200B, best case).
That would be enough money for infrastructure and subsidies.

Actual transportation and running costs could be substantially supported by the people moving there.

Still, I don't see much economic purpose of Mars, except perhaps as support for asteroid mining or outer system exploration.

One thing I've though is that on a future Eco-friendly planet, Earth might impose that a lot of polluting industries move to LEO, Earth-Moon L1/L2.
Perhaps Mars orbit would be more suitable for it, either to bring materials from the surface or in terms of delta-v from asteroids.

Just to point out that if the latest Tesla compensation deal (which is all over the media at the moment) is approved, and if he achieves the stipulated targets contained therein, then the value of his Tesla shareholding in 10 years time will be in the region of $200bn already. That would exclude whatever his stake in SpaceX (its Starlink business included) is worth at that point.

So best case scenario he could be worth well above $200bn in 10 years time already. At a relatively young age of 57.

Which is relevant to this topic given that he has stated that the purpose of his wealth generation activities is to finance humanity's expansion to Mars.

Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #113 on: 01/25/2018 03:02 PM »
One thing I've though is that on a future Eco-friendly planet, Earth might impose that a lot of polluting industries move to LEO, Earth-Moon L1/L2.
Perhaps Mars orbit would be more suitable for it, either to bring materials from the surface or in terms of delta-v from asteroids.

the ecological costs increase the further away you move the raw material extraction and manufacturing of a good from it's intended market. So it wouldn't be Eco-friendly as much as Nimby.

And a lot of launches would be required from earth to mars for such an economy, which is a LOT of methane.

Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #114 on: 01/25/2018 06:41 PM »
One thing I've though is that on a future Eco-friendly planet, Earth might impose that a lot of polluting industries move to LEO, Earth-Moon L1/L2.
Perhaps Mars orbit would be more suitable for it, either to bring materials from the surface or in terms of delta-v from asteroids.

the ecological costs increase the further away you move the raw material extraction and manufacturing of a good from it's intended market. So it wouldn't be Eco-friendly as much as Nimby.

And a lot of launches would be required from earth to mars for such an economy, which is a LOT of methane.

A bit afield but by the time you are talking serious orbital manufacturing at industrial scale of product to be used on earth, you're also no doubt talking about transport that doesn't use "launches".. something along the lines of reentry bodies that are lofted back using electromagnetic catapults or some other system(s) that are far out, implausible at present, or need serious new tech/materials/energy sources.
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Offline IRobot

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #115 on: 01/25/2018 08:32 PM »
One thing I've though is that on a future Eco-friendly planet, Earth might impose that a lot of polluting industries move to LEO, Earth-Moon L1/L2.
Perhaps Mars orbit would be more suitable for it, either to bring materials from the surface or in terms of delta-v from asteroids.

the ecological costs increase the further away you move the raw material extraction and manufacturing of a good from it's intended market. So it wouldn't be Eco-friendly as much as Nimby.

And a lot of launches would be required from earth to mars for such an economy, which is a LOT of methane.
If the raw material comes from the asteroid belt, it makes sense to make Mars orbit the industrial park.

It takes less much less delta-v to move the raw material from the asteroid belt to Mars orbit than to Earth's orbit.
Then you process it there, using Mars as a support base and then you send the processed materials (which weight much less than the raw materials to Earth.

You could also do it directly close to the source, but then you would need a large infrastructure to support thousands of workers living in the asteroid belt.

Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #116 on: 01/25/2018 10:11 PM »
If the raw material comes from the asteroid belt, it makes sense to make Mars orbit the industrial park.

It takes less much less delta-v to move the raw material from the asteroid belt to Mars orbit than to Earth's orbit.
maybe less dV for a single maneuver but you're suggesting multiple, with transfers that may be years apart.

you're talking a time to market of maybe as much as a decade from extraction to availability at the manufacturer as a raw ingot of Nickel or Iron (considering the various optimal transfer windows. No way a miner would use an extra cm/s than needed, if possible).  If it's precious metals, you can easily swamp out a years demand with a single payload (current yearly platinum production on earth is ~200 mt), which will kill your margins. How does a commodity trader speculate price as to the market trends on that length time scale?

Also, it's not exactly Mars export.

Also, can you refine/smelt ore at industrial useful volume in zero G?

« Last Edit: 01/25/2018 10:17 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #117 on: 01/26/2018 02:39 AM »
While there might be certain goods that are exported, it will never get close to parity; Mars will always be an importer. .

Always is a very long time.

sure, eventually earth will be consumed by the sun before mars, but i'm comfortable saying always. if you prefer, baring a extinction level disaster on earth it'll be a millennium at the soonest, but i suspect the cradle of all life in the solar system will always have an edge.

I assume this thread is not intended to speculate that far out. maybe 100 years from start of colonization.
A 100 years sounds reasonable.. might be less.

I expect exports from the solar system to earth to fairly quickly outmatch exports in the other direction, at least by tonnage, once any real industry starts. It will just be cheaper going down than up. If we have industry in space with uninterrupted free power, smelting metal and building car chassis it can be cheaper delivering from space to anywhere on the globe than international transport on earth.

As I think John mentioned this is not really relevant to trade from mars specifically, or as a way of funding mars before it is self-sufficient.

Offline Vultur

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #118 on: 01/26/2018 06:14 AM »
Aren't the main things 1)Must have a big enough bag of cash to afford the fare 2) Must want to live on a new planet more than being physically comfortable?
I'm not really sure where education comes into those criteria?

I'd expect "wanting to move to another planet" to be highly correlated with education or at least interest in science/tech. At least in the earlier stages, when travel to Mars is still new.

(And wealth is fairly well correlated with education too, and probably will only become more so as time passes...)

Another thing that will probably contribute to a center-of-innovation effect is that people who are willing to move to Mars early on will be -- by definition -- motivated/risk takers/people who aren't content to "go with the flow".

And after the early stages I don't think any meaningful prediction is possible, as technology will probably be different enough by then that the economy will probably work very differently from anything we're familiar with.

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #119 on: 01/26/2018 01:01 PM »
I'd expect "wanting to move to another planet" to be highly correlated with education or at least interest in science/tech. At least in the earlier stages, when travel to Mars is still new.

(And wealth is fairly well correlated with education too, and probably will only become more so as time passes...)

Another thing that will probably contribute to a center-of-innovation effect is that people who are willing to move to Mars early on will be -- by definition -- motivated/risk takers/people who aren't content to "go with the flow".

I think you'll find that most people who are well educated, interested in science and technology, and motivated risk takers will go to another planet if a.) they are very well paid to do it and b.) only have to be there for a limited time so they can return to earth to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Canada has some very inhospitable terrain to be sure but few well educated, interested in science and technology, and motivated risk taking Canadians are interested in moving there.

Offline Katana

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #120 on: 01/26/2018 01:39 PM »
Aren't the main things 1)Must have a big enough bag of cash to afford the fare 2) Must want to live on a new planet more than being physically comfortable?
I'm not really sure where education comes into those criteria?

I'd expect "wanting to move to another planet" to be highly correlated with education or at least interest in science/tech. At least in the earlier stages, when travel to Mars is still new.

(And wealth is fairly well correlated with education too, and probably will only become more so as time passes...)

Another thing that will probably contribute to a center-of-innovation effect is that people who are willing to move to Mars early on will be -- by definition -- motivated/risk takers/people who aren't content to "go with the flow".

And after the early stages I don't think any meaningful prediction is possible, as technology will probably be different enough by then that the economy will probably work very differently from anything we're familiar with.
Development of AI may change everything since ~50 years from now.
Can't imagine 100 years.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #121 on: 01/26/2018 09:24 PM »
I think you'll find that most people who are well educated, interested in science and technology, and motivated risk takers will go to another planet if a.) they are very well paid to do it and b.) only have to be there for a limited time so they can return to earth to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Canada has some very inhospitable terrain to be sure but few well educated, interested in science and technology, and motivated risk taking Canadians are interested in moving there.
What your describing is not settlement.

It's what oil rig and other resource extraction workers do.
I expect exports from the solar system to earth to fairly quickly outmatch exports in the other direction, at least by tonnage, once any real industry starts. It will just be cheaper going down than up. If we have industry in space with uninterrupted free power, smelting metal and building car chassis it can be cheaper delivering from space to anywhere on the globe than international transport on earth.
Only if  the goods come from asteroids.

Everything else has to first
a) Climb up the planet/moons gravity well
b) Accelerate to planet/moon escape velocity, plus whatever delta v gives them an adequate  transit time
c) Breaking burn into Earth orbit.

My instinct is this will only work if those "propellant costs" are dirt cheap.

The only thing I could conceive of that would deliver that is using solar sails.
Quote from: KelvinZero
As I think John mentioned this is not really relevant to trade from mars specifically, or as a way of funding mars before it is self-sufficient.
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #122 on: 01/26/2018 09:31 PM »
I think you'll find that most people who are well educated, interested in science and technology, and motivated risk takers will go to another planet if a.) they are very well paid to do it and b.) only have to be there for a limited time so they can return to earth to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Canada has some very inhospitable terrain to be sure but few well educated, interested in science and technology, and motivated risk taking Canadians are interested in moving there.
I think there is a flaw in that analogy, though the conclusion may still be correct. The Canadian example would only be relevant if they were setting up a city there, with universities and so on. I think you are talking about something that will never grow beyond a certain size and may be shut down once the specific purpose is exhausted.

A better example would be America. Firstly the trip time is more analogous. Secondly it is a colony, not a dead end. To what extent did the well educated visit just temporarily but return home to England and civilisation?

I expect this happened a fair bit. Obviously at some point this process ended though. Can we look at history and decide when, and what was the criteria?

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #123 on: 01/26/2018 09:49 PM »
The Canadian example would only be relevant if they were setting up a city there, with universities and so on.

And why aren't the Canadians "setting up a city there, with universities and so on"? Why would Mars be a more appropriate place for those activities?

Quote
I think you are talking about something that will never grow beyond a certain size and may be shut down once the specific purpose is exhausted.

And that won't be the fate of Mars because...?

Quote
A better example would be America.

America is a horrible analogy to Mars. America has a flourishing biosphere and had been inhabited by humans for millennia before the Europeans arrived. Mars might have some microbes.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #124 on: 01/26/2018 09:59 PM »
Quote
A better example would be America.

America is a horrible analogy to Mars. America has a flourishing biosphere and had been inhabited by humans for millennia before the Europeans arrived. Mars might have some microbes.
Indeed. That' "flourishing biosphere" meant there was serious money to be made by growing stuff (or just cutting it down) and shipping it back home.

A significant number of family fortunes got quite a bit bigger as a result.

As you point out that just doesn't exist on Mars, where you'd start by making the soil, water and air, before we get to shipping it up well to orbit.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #125 on: 01/27/2018 12:49 AM »
Canada already has a government. That's why it's a bad analogy.  America didn't (except for the indigenous peoples we so rudely displaced). That's why it's a better analogy. Biosphere is irrelevant. Man reshapes nature to his will.
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Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #126 on: 01/27/2018 04:04 AM »
Canada already has a government. That's why it's a bad analogy.


I suspect that if I had used Antarctica as an analogy you would claim it is a bad analogy because it doesn't have a government. But I can't read your mind.

Quote
America didn't (except for the indigenous peoples we so rudely displaced). That's why it's a better analogy.

I think America has had a government for just as long as Canada has. But in any case the US has about the same area as Canada but 10 times the population. Your contention that that disparity in population is due to the shortcomings of the Canadian government and not the extreme climate of much of Canada is not tenable. Indeed, I think that is being generous. 

Quote
Biosphere is irrelevant.

I do not know whether to laugh or cry at statements like these.

Quote
Man reshapes nature to his will.

How did that work out in the Canadian north? I think that earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, etc provide enough evidence to conclude that our ability to reshape nature is very much a work in progress.

Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #127 on: 01/27/2018 09:26 PM »
Canada already has a government. That's why it's a bad analogy.


I suspect that if I had used Antarctica as an analogy you would claim it is a bad analogy because it doesn't have a government. But I can't read your mind.

Quote
America didn't (except for the indigenous peoples we so rudely displaced). That's why it's a better analogy.

I think America has had a government for just as long as Canada has. But in any case the US has about the same area as Canada but 10 times the population. Your contention that that disparity in population is due to the shortcomings of the Canadian government and not the extreme climate of much of Canada is not tenable. Indeed, I think that is being generous. 

Quote
Biosphere is irrelevant.

I do not know whether to laugh or cry at statements like these.

Quote
Man reshapes nature to his will.

How did that work out in the Canadian north? I think that earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, etc provide enough evidence to conclude that our ability to reshape nature is very much a work in progress.

I refer to America before there was government. No prohibition on ISRU. That is different from Canada now, which has one, although ISRU is allowed..., or Antarctica now, which has a prohibition on any resource extraction or ISRU, even though it doesn't have a government per se.  People who want to get away from government could go to America then, but not Canada now and essentially not Antarctica now. And not America now, either.

I hope that clarifies. Those analogies are about the situation on the ground at the time. Mars is vastly different, legally.

As for the biosphere, that refers to technological, not sociological factors. Biosphere mattered in America then... but less so there, or anywhere, now. For Mars it is already known that all has to be provided. Which we can do, because we have the technology. Not that it is perfect, or that there won't be issues, but they are all solvable. Because it is what man does.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2018 06:49 PM by Lar »
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Offline Vultur

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #128 on: 01/27/2018 11:36 PM »
Antarctica is not really parallel to Mars -- but the reason why not is largely cultural/political.

If the Antarctic Treaty were not in force, then Antarctica would have significant settlements. Even with the current limits on economic activities in Antarctica, the Chilean and Argentine Antarctic bases are not just research stations -- they each have a school for example, there are families there (not many -- but some).

Also, there has never been a Musk/SpaceX equivalent to push Antarctic settlement... that is probably also a significant factor.

Quote
As for the biosphere, that refers to technological, not sociological factors. Biosphere mattered in America then... but less so there, or anywhere, now. For Mars it is already known that all has to be provided. Which we can do, because we have the technology. Not that it is perfect or that there won't be issues but they are all solvable. Because it is what man does.

I think there's actually a technological 'inflection point' where it becomes safer to live in artificial habitats on a geologically dead, low-atmosphere planet than on Earth. Mars doesn't have active volcanism or powerful earthquakes, and its air pressure is low enough that windstorms have minimal force.

Life support technology isn't there yet, not even close -- but if SpaceX stays around and seriously pushes a Mars colony effort for several decades, it may get there. It's probably not as far off as it seems today.

Current and recent work is largely ISS related, which is a harder problem for a lot of reasons:
-zero-g. Mars gravity should be enough for distillation to work, so water recycling can be easier
-ISS is relatively small and most of its space is already 'claimed', so use of plants is very limited
-ISS procedures (when the ISS astronauts grew vegetables in the VEGGIE experiment, IIRC it took months and months to be allowed to eat them)
-ice mining and fuel ISRU will produce tons of oxygen and water, life support needs will be small in comparison

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #129 on: 01/28/2018 11:24 AM »
I think there's actually a technological 'inflection point' where it becomes safer to live in artificial habitats on a geologically dead, low-atmosphere planet than on Earth. Mars doesn't have active volcanism or powerful earthquakes, and its air pressure is low enough that windstorms have minimal force.
Not to mention the ease of making the environment antiseptic and the low gravity and lack of crime, and the spectacular scenery.

IOW  The perfect seniors retirement community spot.  :)

Musk Villas. You know it makes sense.
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #130 on: 01/28/2018 11:30 AM »
Quote
I think you are talking about something that will never grow beyond a certain size and may be shut down once the specific purpose is exhausted.
And that won't be the fate of Mars because...?
Obviously if you start with the assumption that colonisation is absurd, intelligent people will at best aim for a short term stay. That, IMO, is what you have reduced the argument to.

I've had this issue with you before. I honestly think you can do better and are deliberately reducing the conversation to a frivolous level to show your distain for the subject, and to amuse yourself by wasting the time of the unwary untangling truisms and tautologies that turn out to be empty boxes.

So long.

Online AncientU

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #131 on: 01/28/2018 12:28 PM »
...

Life support technology isn't there yet, not even close -- but if SpaceX stays around and seriously pushes a Mars colony effort for several decades, it may get there. It's probably not as far off as it seems today.

...

I don't agree. 

Life support technology has been sufficient to keep thousands of crew alive and healthy in a much more hostile environment than Mars for 40-50 years -- on submarines.  The ECLSS approach of all-in-one, ultra light weight, maintenance free or very low maintenance, etc. is what makes the technology challenging.  It is not maintaining the fundamental life-sustaining parameters.

It is easy to make these things hard...
« Last Edit: 01/28/2018 11:16 PM by AncientU »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #132 on: 01/28/2018 01:11 PM »
Life support technology has been sufficient to keep thousands of crew alive and healthy in a much more hostile environment than Mars for 40-50 years -- on submarines.  The ECLSS approach of all-in-one, ultra light weight, maintenance free or very low maintenance, etc. is what makes the technology challenging.  It is not maintaining the fundamental life-sustaining parameters.

It is easy to make these tings hard...
I think the mechanical approach does make life awkward, given there are self-replicating machines that are quite capable of converting CO2 into O2 and sequestering Carbon for later use. We call them "plants," or "algae."

But the submarine analogy has flaws. Nuclear submarines have abundant supplies of both electrical and heat energy (IIRC the usual reactors size is about 60MW of power, and at PWR conditions I think that's about 120MW of waste heat) and literally an ocean of water to dump heat into or extract fresh water and Oxygen from.
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Offline alexterrell

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #133 on: 01/28/2018 02:06 PM »
Because Mars is on inner edge of the Asteroid Belt, there are probably tonnes of meteorites* on its surface that would be scientifically interesting way to begin exploration of the Belt.  Mars fuel, from both the surface and also from Phobos/Deimos -- themselves incredibly interesting for scientific exploration -- will be a critical resource for any flights further out.

* Rovers have found several in their very limited travels.
If Phobos / Deimos have water and carbon bearing minerals, then it would be energetically efficient (a pre-requisite for commercially feasible) to export to Earth Orbit:
- Rocket fuel
- Radiation shielding for space stations

That would initially be to a High Earth Orbit. Getting from there to Low Earth Orbit takes more energy than getting from Phobos to High Earth Orbit. But by reducing the cost of "materials" in HEO, it could encourage space tourism to move from LEO to HEO.

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #134 on: 01/28/2018 07:52 PM »
Obviously if you start with the assumption that colonisation is absurd, intelligent people will at best aim for a short term stay. That, IMO, is what you have reduced the argument to.

I do not start with such an assumption. My opinion is not that settlement is absurd; my opinion is that it is not a practical proposition in the year 2018. Maybe that will change sooner or later. My reasons for thinking so is that the costs of living on Mars are very high and the means are very limited.

I think space settlement is sort of like controlled fusion or interstellar travel. Not absurd on the face of it, just things we don't know how to do.

Quote
I've had this issue with you before. I honestly think you can do better and are deliberately reducing the conversation to a frivolous level to show your distain for the subject, and to amuse yourself by wasting the time of the unwary untangling truisms and tautologies that turn out to be empty boxes.

I do not think pointing out that the difficulties of Mars settlement or space settlement in general is in any way frivolous. I think the proponents of settlement engage in some combination of special pleading, wishful thinking, and romantic fantasies.

I am sorry that you think opinions contrary to your own are evidence of bad faith. Few people are more receptive to the notion of space settlement than myself and I would love to live long enough to see it happen. But I do not see the difficulties addressed in anything like a convincing manner.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #135 on: 01/28/2018 11:14 PM »
Life support technology has been sufficient to keep thousands of crew alive and healthy in a much more hostile environment than Mars for 40-50 years -- on submarines.  The ECLSS approach of all-in-one, ultra light weight, maintenance free or very low maintenance, etc. is what makes the technology challenging.  It is not maintaining the fundamental life-sustaining parameters.

It is easy to make these tings hard...
I think the mechanical approach does make life awkward, given there are self-replicating machines that are quite capable of converting CO2 into O2 and sequestering Carbon for later use. We call them "plants," or "algae."

But the submarine analogy has flaws. Nuclear submarines have abundant supplies of both electrical and heat energy (IIRC the usual reactors size is about 60MW of power, and at PWR conditions I think that's about 120MW of waste heat) and literally an ocean of water to dump heat into or extract fresh water and Oxygen from.

Any analogy has it limitations.  Life support on a submarine uses tiny (totally insignificant) fractions of the power available... there is that pesky propeller to turn.  Life in a Martian settlement can not be on a minimalist budget.  There must be adequate surplus power and water for a buffer against interruption and 'stuff' happening.  Dumping 'waste heat' is not going to happen -- ocean or no -- because heating is going to be a chief aspect of ECLSS.

CO2 removal -- solved problem
Water purification and *recycling -- solved problem up to about 50-75% reuse (the rest can still be valuable resource as grey water for *agriculture)
Solid Waste management -- solved problem (for cities of up to ten million people)
Water hydrolysis for oxygen -- solved problem
Air filtering and purification -- solved problem
Air humidity removal/control -- solved problem
HVAC heating/cooling -- solved problem
*Air separation, compression/storage, *atmosphere partial pressure/composition control -- solved problems

Life support technology isn't there yet, not even close -- but if SpaceX stays around and seriously pushes a Mars colony effort for several decades, it may get there. It's probably not as far off as it seems today.
(aside: why does everything take 'several decades' in this industry?)

So, what aspects of ECLSS are such worrisome, fearful challenges?

* These aren't used on submarines, but lots of other interesting challenges take their place... like keeping several tens of atmospheres of sea water out of the people tank.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2018 11:34 PM by AncientU »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #136 on: 01/28/2018 11:47 PM »
I do not start with such an assumption. My opinion is not that settlement is absurd; my opinion is that it is not a practical proposition in the year 2018. Maybe that will change sooner or later. My reasons for thinking so is that the costs of living on Mars are very high and the means are very limited.
I think this thread is an admission of that. This is good. The question then becomes, what can be done about it?

Quote from: Jim Davis
I do not think pointing out that the difficulties of Mars settlement or space settlement in general is in any way frivolous. I think the proponents of settlement engage in some combination of special pleading, wishful thinking, and romantic fantasies.
When you strip away the language, an awful of the comments do sound like that.
Quote from: Jim Davis
I am sorry that you think opinions contrary to your own are evidence of bad faith. Few people are more receptive to the notion of space settlement than myself and I would love to live long enough to see it happen. But I do not see the difficulties addressed in anything like a convincing manner.
I think that's a bit harsh. Some people do recognize it's going to be tough and are trying to actively look at ways to deal with it.

Underlying all of this is of course the assumption that SX will supply the transport and the living space (in one or another) for people to stay in. I also think some form of near closed cycle ECLSS (not perfect, needing top up from the Martian environment)

The title of this thread recognizes that for sustainability the settlement has to find ways to generate revenue covering operating expenses.

Starting with a target freight rate of $300/Kg to Mars.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2018 11:49 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #137 on: 01/29/2018 12:09 AM »
What can be done about lack of exports and high cost of living?

Reduce logistics costs first of all. Currently is $1 million per kg. Get it down to $1000 or maybe $100 per kg. That makes everything else more feasible. Then, figure out how to make stuff locally, starting with propellant, then air and water, then food (starting with high calorie staples, could even be vat-grown for most calories), then building supplies of various types.

If logistics costs are low enough, settlers could possibly pay for an entire lifetime's worth of vitamins and hydroponic micronutrients as part of the cost of the ticket.

Also, NASA and others will want science done. That can be contracted out to the settlement and provide a sizable income. Alternately, the city could provide support for a NASA-run facility as contractors. Also, Alaska has like a dozen reality TV shows about living on the "frontier," so there is an obvious opportunity for cultural income as well.

But mostly, I suspect this will be paid for by just a huge Mars City "sovereign wealth fund" like the one Alaska uses to provide a stipend for Alaskan residents. This could be willed by people like Musk who could amass a sizable fortune... The indefinite interest on a $200 billion sovereign wealth fund may dwarf basically all these other income sources.
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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #138 on: 01/29/2018 06:08 AM »
What can be done about lack of exports and high cost of living?

Reduce logistics costs first of all. Currently is $1 million per kg. Get it down to $1000 or maybe $100 per kg. That makes everything else more feasible. Then, figure out how to make stuff locally, starting with propellant, then air and water, then food (starting with high calorie staples, could even be vat-grown for most calories), then building supplies of various types.

If logistics costs are low enough, settlers could possibly pay for an entire lifetime's worth of vitamins and hydroponic micronutrients as part of the cost of the ticket.

Also, NASA and others will want science done. That can be contracted out to the settlement and provide a sizable income. Alternately, the city could provide support for a NASA-run facility as contractors. Also, Alaska has like a dozen reality TV shows about living on the "frontier," so there is an obvious opportunity for cultural income as well.

But mostly, I suspect this will be paid for by just a huge Mars City "sovereign wealth fund" like the one Alaska uses to provide a stipend for Alaskan residents. This could be willed by people like Musk who could amass a sizable fortune... The indefinite interest on a $200 billion sovereign wealth fund may dwarf basically all these other income sources.

How would the cost of a ton of methane rocket fuel, manufactured on Mars and transported to LEO, compare to the cost of a ton produced on Earth and transported to LEO?

Could there be an argument for a Mars colony earning revenue as a supplier of methane for a LEO refuelling industry?

Offline alexterrell

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #139 on: 01/29/2018 12:13 PM »
Earth will always have advantages in production costs. But launch costs dominate, and the underlying driver of those is delta V and time. Again, Earth will always have a time advantage - about an hour to LEO.

In terms of energy, Earth again has an advantage, unless aero-capture can be used, which may be difficult for a cargo of solid/liquid methane (and I assume oxygen). Bascially cryogens.

But to high Earth Orbit, Mars or Phobos/Deimos to HEO has lower energy requirements than Earth to HEO. However, for Mars to HEO, it's marginal, and you have the complication of off planet launch. Phobos to HEO needs about 3km/s, compared to about 12 km/s LEO to HEO. Add to that the fact that Phobos to HEO can use electric thrusters all the way, and I'd say there's a clear winner - IF Phobos or Deimos have the right materials. 

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #140 on: 01/29/2018 09:14 PM »
Reduce logistics costs first of all. Currently is $1 million per kg. Get it down to $1000 or maybe $100 per kg. That makes everything else more feasible.
Musk's stated goal is to get it to $300/Kg.

Quote from: Robotbeat
Then, figure out how to make stuff locally, starting with propellant, then air and water, then food (starting with high calorie staples, could even be vat-grown for most calories), then building supplies of various types.
Unless "vat grown" is already available on Earth that's another TRL=0 technology that's is simply not core to the task.

Note that Musk reckons 9 of every 10 flights would remain cargo for some time to come. That makes a very big difference on settlement growth, and the question has to be asked "Where does the money come from?"
Quote from: Robotbeat
If logistics costs are low enough, settlers could possibly pay for an entire lifetime's worth of vitamins and hydroponic micronutrients as part of the cost of the ticket.
Which raises the question what is a Mars "lifetime?" Vitamins are both low mass and low cost, which is viable.
Quote from: Robotbeat
Also, NASA and others will want science done. That can be contracted out to the settlement and provide a sizable income. Alternately, the city could provide support for a NASA-run facility as contractors. Also, Alaska has like a dozen reality TV shows about living on the "frontier," so there is an obvious opportunity for cultural income as well.
This is probably true. In fact I see no reason other space agencies could not hire people to do work.
The issues start to revolve around things like "Does everyone have a surface suit?" How much training do you need to go on the surface? The odds on bet is this is fine for a certain amount of time but as more people arrive the hourly rate is likely to go down quite quickly. 
Quote from: Robotbeat
But mostly, I suspect this will be paid for by just a huge Mars City "sovereign wealth fund" like the one Alaska uses to provide a stipend for Alaskan residents. This could be willed by people like Musk who could amass a sizable fortune... The indefinite interest on a $200 billion sovereign wealth fund may dwarf basically all these other income sources.
You've been talking about this for a while now so I thought I'd look into this.
Just to be clear you are talking about this thing, aren't you?

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

2 things about this.

1) It's basically funded by revenues from the trans-Alaskan oil pipeline.

2)It's paid annually.

It's lowest was $331.29 per resident/per year  (in 1984) and the highest was in 2015 of $2072/head/year and that 1 off payment o Sarah Palin authorized in 2008 of $1200 a head and in 2015 the Fund size was $53.7Bn.
Peaks were in 2000 ($1963.83) down to $845.76/head/year in 2008. From $2069 (+$1200 one off payment) in 2008 to $878/head/year in 2012.


That's split across a total Alaskan population (I'm guessing not everyone's eligible) in 2016 of 746 000.

So what's your thinking here? The fund starts much bigger to begin and at first it's split across 100 people?
With the current fund size that's is indeed about $15m/person per year. At $300/kg that's  27 years of supplies at the NASA standard of 5Kg/day (just to give a rough idea of what that would buy). But every time that population doubles that's going to halve (provided ROI remains the same, which is clearly not guaranteed. It's gone up and down like a yoyo). By the time the population is up to 3200 it's sunk to
less than $500k.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2018 09:15 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #141 on: 01/29/2018 09:22 PM »
Again, you don't understand TRL. TRL=0 means it's not even shown to be possible in theory. TRL 1 is it's theoretically possible but hasn't been done in the lab. Basically anything not in the New Physics section of this site starts at least TRL 1.

Also, we already produce all kinds of foods in vats here on Earth, including ancient ones like yeast and microalgae (the Aztecs I believe grew this as a cheap protein source) and newer ones like this bacterial protein source which feeds off of methane (and is already used commercially), and thus can hook up efficiently with the propellant manufacturing infrastructure:

But we already have had multiple threads on this.





As far as the sovereign wealth fund: yeah, something like the Alaska one. But larger. And the idea would be that by the time the city became large enough, say 100,000 or more, there'd be asymptotically less need for imports. When you get to a million people, the idea is that you'd in principle be Earth-independent, although trade would continue as long as Earth and Mars both have technological civilizations.

And note that the Alaska sovereign wealth fund is SUPPOSED to last indefinitely, even after all the oil runs out. It would pay out of interest. That's why it's called the Alaska Permanent Fund.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2018 09:50 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online AncientU

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #142 on: 01/29/2018 09:27 PM »
...
I think space settlement is sort of like controlled fusion or interstellar travel. Not absurd on the face of it, just things we don't know how to do.
...

There is a fundamental difference between your two other examples and space settlement -- it's called physics.

We don't know enough physics to be able to control plasmas needed for fusion, or even a bit of the physics needed to create power/propulsion that could accelerate a spaceship to relativistic speeds required for interstellar travel.

On the other hand, we do understand how to get out of Earth's gravity well, we can live in space for transit-length periods, we recently have access to technologies needed to land large (tens to hundreds of tonnes) on the Lunar or Martian surface, and we have all the ECLSS technology needed to get started building settlements.  These things have been within technological reach for five decades or so, just too expensive to execute with a throw-away mentality in spaceflight.

Why we should do them is another question -- many opinions on both sides of that discussion are presented here.  (One such discussion, the OP of this thread, is that self-sustaining colonies are only possible with a self-supporting export economy.)  But these are fundamentally philosophical or economics discussions -- not physics
« Last Edit: 01/29/2018 09:31 PM by AncientU »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #143 on: 01/29/2018 09:43 PM »
Again, you don't understand TRL. TRL=0 means it's not even shown to be possible in theory. TRL 1 is it's theoretically possible but hasn't been done in the lab. Basically anything not in the New Physics section of this site starts at least TRL 1.
The problem I have is that for some reason the phrase "vat grown" always puts me in mind of the "Chicken Little" meat growing in CM Cornbluths and Fred Phols "The Space Merchants."

In fact Micoprotein  ("Quorn") derived from a fungi,  as a processed food meat substitute ingredient, has been in production for more than a decade.

In principle building a small scale production module into a standard size rack should be viable (and IMHO a very interesting group engineering project for any looking for such a task). Of course if you want more you then need to order more racks, and provide the necessary nutrients and energy.
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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #144 on: 01/29/2018 10:19 PM »
Sovereign wealth fund is the wrong terminology, but the right idea. A charitable foundation, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, would be the appropriate form. Musk and others can put money into the foundation and it can fund Mars settlement by using profits from investing.

That would get the settlement started, but eventually expansion would require profit from an export economy.

Now if someone could talk a government into funding Mars settlement, then it would be a sovereign wealth fund. I don't see the US Congress chipping in any money as a Mars settlement doesn't do anything for national security. Maybe Musk needs to make some campaign contributions.

UAE has spare cash and is interested in Mars.

https://www.space.gov.ae/

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #145 on: 01/29/2018 10:55 PM »
Mars could become a political entity, perhaps sovereign, in the future.
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Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #146 on: 01/30/2018 12:23 AM »
On the other hand, we do understand how to get out of Earth's gravity well, we can live in space for transit-length periods, we recently have access to technologies needed to land large (tens to hundreds of tonnes) on the Lunar or Martian surface, and we have all the ECLSS technology needed to get started building settlements.


Yes, we know how to keep a man (or a small number of men) alive on Mars. We can do it the same way we keep men alive on ISS - we hire tens of thousands of people on earth full time to keep them alive. But that isn't settlement. In a settlement, settlers pay their own way.   

Quote
These things have been within technological reach for five decades or so, just too expensive to execute with a throw-away mentality in spaceflight.

No, sorry. Settlement is not at root a transportation problem. It's the visible tip of a very large iceberg.

Online DrRobin

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #147 on: 01/30/2018 12:32 AM »
[...] we already produce all kinds of foods in vats here on Earth, including ancient ones like yeast and microalgae (the Aztecs I believe grew this as a cheap protein source)
As a microbiologist who has grown a very large number of cells in vats, I was also struck by John Smith's oddly dismissive comment about vat grown food. Growing edible cells in bioreactors ("vats") from a few liters up to 1000's of liters is a very well worked out technology, including for the edible photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Arthrospira (commonly known as Spirulina), which -as you note- was already in common use as a food-stock by the Aztecs centuries ago. Similarly, large scale culture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker's yeast) is a staple of modern biotech. Consideration of these as enablers for space exploration goes back decades. (e.g. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19890016190.pdf )
Relevant to the thread topic of Martian Exports, it is unlikely that Mars would export vat-grown food to Earth, but it has been suggested (and no doubt discussed here in the past) that it may make sense for Mars exports of low-tech/high-mass products like food to go to Ceres as part of a Triangle Trade with Earth, which would in turn import volatiles from Ceres and export high-tech/low mass products to Mars.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #148 on: 01/30/2018 12:57 AM »
On the other hand, we do understand how to get out of Earth's gravity well, we can live in space for transit-length periods, we recently have access to technologies needed to land large (tens to hundreds of tonnes) on the Lunar or Martian surface, and we have all the ECLSS technology needed to get started building settlements.


Yes, we know how to keep a man (or a small number of men) alive on Mars. We can do it the same way we keep men alive on ISS - we hire tens of thousands of people on earth full time to keep them alive. But that isn't settlement. In a settlement, settlers pay their own way.   

Quote
These things have been within technological reach for five decades or so, just too expensive to execute with a throw-away mentality in spaceflight.

No, sorry. Settlement is not at root a transportation problem. It's the visible tip of a very large iceberg.
Right now, transport IS the greatest impediment to Mars settlement. It costs $1 million per kilogram to send anything softly to the Martian surface. There will hopefully come a time when that isn't the case.
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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #149 on: 01/30/2018 06:21 AM »
As a microbiologist who has grown a very large number of cells in vats, I was also struck by John Smith's oddly dismissive comment about vat grown food. Growing edible cells in bioreactors ("vats") from a few liters up to 1000's of liters is a very well worked out technology, including for the edible photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Arthrospira (commonly known as Spirulina), which -as you note- was already in common use as a food-stock by the Aztecs centuries ago.

Feedkind protein from methane is some 25% efficient at converting energy in methane to calories.

Potatos are some 3% efficient at going from electricity -> LED -> calories, other staple food crops a little worse.

Going from methane protein to animal protein is of a similar order of magnitude in efficiency to the plants - if you can get the animals to grow well on it.

And - well - don't forget that somewhere under a kilo a day gets you dehydrated food that is quite palatable and better health-wise than most people are eating on earth.


Online AncientU

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #150 on: 01/30/2018 01:06 PM »
On the other hand, we do understand how to get out of Earth's gravity well, we can live in space for transit-length periods, we recently have access to technologies needed to land large (tens to hundreds of tonnes) on the Lunar or Martian surface, and we have all the ECLSS technology needed to get started building settlements.


Yes, we know how to keep a man (or a small number of men) alive on Mars. We can do it the same way we keep men alive on ISS - we hire tens of thousands of people on earth full time to keep them alive. But that isn't settlement. In a settlement, settlers pay their own way.
...   

You've hit on one of the most critical paradigms needing changed.  The ISS model with tens of thousands of people on Earth choreographing each step of a handful of astros on ISS is DOA as a model for a Lunar or Mars settlement. 

ISS isn't a testing ground for a settlement, it is only a testing ground for in-space hardware and the medical effects of long-duration, zero-g space flight.  These are useful investigations in that you're not getting to/from Mars in less than a few months, and some approaches make that a couple years.

The real challenge starts once the travelers arrive.  The first tens of people on Mars or the Moon need to include a number of technologists, hardware and software developers, not just users.  Construction specialists, maintenance people, heavy equipment operators, agriculturists (indoor intensive farmers), machinists, industrial facility operators, etc. -- if you want to build a settlement, you need to build a settlement.  If you want to 'explore' and plant flags, you send a different set of travelers.  Same if you want to do scientific research, search for life, etc. 

But there will also be tonnes of 'practical exploring' to do, prospecting more  apropos.  Searching for water resources, mineral resources, basically figuring out the lay of the land (surveying, measuring physical parameters like temperature, insolation, radiation, atmospheric composition/variation, etc.). 

So, if you want to settle and eventually become self-sufficient -- and down the road have an export economy -- you need to start down the correct paradigm path.  The right mix of skills will be needed to eventually create a critical mass, a largely self-sustaining colony of a few hundred or a few thousand individuals.  Settlers paying their own way will be one of the later stages... maybe by physical work within the settlement, and maybe by other means. 
« Last Edit: 01/30/2018 01:09 PM by AncientU »
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Online DrRobin

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #151 on: 01/30/2018 05:40 PM »
As a microbiologist who has grown a very large number of cells in vats, I was also struck by John Smith's oddly dismissive comment about vat grown food. Growing edible cells in bioreactors ("vats") from a few liters up to 1000's of liters is a very well worked out technology, including for the edible photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Arthrospira (commonly known as Spirulina), which -as you note- was already in common use as a food-stock by the Aztecs centuries ago.
Feedkind protein from methane is some 25% efficient at converting energy in methane to calories.
Potatos are some 3% efficient at going from electricity -> LED -> calories, other staple food crops a little worse.
Going from methane protein to animal protein is of a similar order of magnitude in efficiency to the plants - if you can get the animals to grow well on it.
And - well - don't forget that somewhere under a kilo a day gets you dehydrated food that is quite palatable and better health-wise than most people are eating on earth.
Apologies if this is restating the obvious but microbes like Methanococcus capsulatus (the main bacterium used in Feedkind that you cite above) are Methanotrophs that fix carbon from methane using oxygen as the oxidizer, which presumes both methane and oxygen as inputs, neither in great abundance on Mars. In contrast, Cyanobacteria fix carbon from Carbon Dioxide using photosynthesis (and some fix Nitrogen as well). Some are lithotropic extremophiles capable (if kept warm and wet with supplied energy) of using Martian raw materials more or less directly. So, for primary production, you would want to use Cyanobacteria (or similar organisms) to produce reduced and fixed carbon that could in turn be used by Methanogens to produce Methane (unless you were proposing that a fraction of the methane being produced for rocket propellant be diverted to feed the Methanococcus.). Relevant to Martian export economies, vat/pond culture of Cyanobacteria scales up well, so it is possible to imagine that at some point enough of them could be grown as a foodstock that some of that could then be diverted in the other direction as a synthetic feedstock for methanogen bacteria to produce methane for rocket fuel!

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #152 on: 01/30/2018 08:36 PM »
Apologies if this is restating the obvious but microbes like Methanococcus capsulatus (the main bacterium used in Feedkind that you cite above) are Methanotrophs that fix carbon from methane using oxygen as the oxidizer, which presumes both methane and oxygen as inputs, neither in great abundance on Mars. In contrast, Cyanobacteria fix carbon from Carbon Dioxide using photosynthesis (and some fix Nitrogen as well).

In the context of earth, methanotrophic reactors use external oxygen, and produce CO2, which is vented.
In the context of Mars, the exhaust CO2 would be fed back into the propellant generator, along with the wastewater, and produce fresh O2 and methane which is recycled, and the only inputs are trace and energy.

I used the above as examples only as I happened to have figures to hand for energy per calorie, which sets a useful floor under arguments about minimal rations for survival, and the tradeoffs between electrical energy, methane and food as commodities, not because they are the optimal.


Offline guckyfan

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #153 on: 01/30/2018 09:00 PM »
Quote
Apologies if this is restating the obvious but microbes like Methanococcus capsulatus (the main bacterium used in Feedkind that you cite above) are Methanotrophs that fix carbon from methane using oxygen as the oxidizer, which presumes both methane and oxygen as inputs, neither in great abundance on Mars.

On Mars the methane would be produced from CO2 and water and energy. So along with the methane the oxygen is produced. In that sense a closed cycle.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #154 on: 01/30/2018 11:20 PM »
As a microbiologist who has grown a very large number of cells in vats, I was also struck by John Smith's oddly dismissive comment about vat grown food. Growing edible cells in bioreactors ("vats") from a few liters up to 1000's of liters is a very well worked out technology, including for the edible photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Arthrospira (commonly known as Spirulina), which -as you note- was already in common use as a food-stock by the Aztecs centuries ago.
I'd also forgotten "Marmite" and "Veggimite," which seems to be derived from the waste products of yeast mfg. It's also often said (of both of them) that "You either love them or hate them."

However the fact remains that AFAIK no one supplies bacterial protein itself for human consumption
Quote from: DrRobin
Similarly, large scale culture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker's yeast) is a staple of modern biotech. Consideration of these as enablers for space exploration goes back decades. (e.g. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19890016190.pdf )
Relevant to the thread topic of Martian Exports, it is unlikely that Mars would export vat-grown food to Earth, but it has been suggested (and no doubt discussed here in the past) that it may make sense for Mars exports of low-tech/high-mass products like food to go to Ceres as part of a Triangle Trade with Earth, which would in turn import volatiles from Ceres and export high-tech/low mass products to Mars.
That's possible.

All that would take would be for someone to start settling Ceres and the plan is in business.
Right now, transport IS the greatest impediment to Mars settlement. It costs $1 million per kilogram to send anything softly to the Martian surface. There will hopefully come a time when that isn't the case.
Or any other application of space launch.

But WRT Mars I'd say the real killer is that 26 month gap between each launch window.

America was settled by voyages of 90-120 days duration, but leaving every day (possibly more than once a day).

Imagine if journeys could only happen every 26 months. For a BFS that's 13 trips in either direction, or basically 6 full round trips.

The problem is not the logistics. It's the finances. How many journeys it takes to pay off the cost of a BFS and how many journeys revenue to fund a second (or third?) one. A 30 years operating life for an airliner is a pretty good deal.

Within reason anything that can cut that is a pretty good investment.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #155 on: 01/30/2018 11:26 PM »
Australia had similar transit times at first as these ~90 day trips to Mars, and the season really wasn't favorable for the trip to Australia except once every 12 months. And they didn't have the advantage of near-instant communication like we have, so I think overall it's not significantly worse than back then. ...and the Polynesians had it much worse.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #156 on: 01/30/2018 11:29 PM »
I do think that eventually we'll develop propulsion methods that allow trips in between the 26 month windows. NTR technology combined with high orbit refueling and extreme hyperbolic aerocapture/entry would allow it. But there are more advanced propulsion methods as well.

But I think 26 month Windows are fine for getting things going. The idea is it'll create a forcing function for better propulsion, eventually enabling interstellar propulsion.
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Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #157 on: 01/31/2018 12:47 AM »
Australia had similar transit times at first as these ~90 day trips to Mars, and the season really wasn't favorable for the trip to Australia except once every 12 months. And they didn't have the advantage of near-instant communication like we have, so I think overall it's not significantly worse than back then. ...and the Polynesians had it much worse.

And what was Australia exporting back then? Opals? Rare animals?

The topic is Mars export economy. Btw.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #158 on: 01/31/2018 01:37 AM »
Quote
Apologies if this is restating the obvious but microbes like Methanococcus capsulatus (the main bacterium used in Feedkind that you cite above) are Methanotrophs that fix carbon from methane using oxygen as the oxidizer, which presumes both methane and oxygen as inputs, neither in great abundance on Mars.

On Mars the methane would be produced from CO2 and water and energy. So along with the methane the oxygen is produced. In that sense a closed cycle.

Again, maybe we are saying the same thing, but the advantage of using Cyanobacteria as the primary producers is that they are photosynthetic and harvest the energy of sunlight themselves to turn CO2 and water into protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids and Oxygen. As SpeedDevil notes, people have been eating Cyanobacterium for a long time as an excellent nutritional source (albeit lacking Vitamin C and B12). This is what is in Spirulina, for example [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirulina_(dietary_supplement) ] (N.B.: Maybe the other poster was just trolling but of course bacterial protein is being supplied -and sold commercially- for human consumption. Spirulina is more than 50% high-quality protein by mass. Weird when people lecture me in my own field.) You can then feed the fixed organic carbon generated by the Cyanobacteria to methanogenic bacteria, which under anaerobic conditions can ferment them to produce methane without additional input of energy. Initially, it will make more sense to generate methane chemically using the Sabatier reaction, but the point I was trying to make earlier was that as food production scales up with growth of a Mars settlement, eventually it may be more efficient to generate it biologically with fermentation. Relevant to Mars exports, some Cyanobacteria also fix Nitrogen from N2, which is chemically much harder, so again eventually it might be cheaper to ship Ammonia from Mars to High Earth Orbit than to haul it up from Earth surface, but this would only make sense way down the road when there is large-scale food production on Mars.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #159 on: 01/31/2018 02:17 AM »
Photosynthesis is much less efficient than photovoltaics, and the advantage of methane-eating bacteria is it fits right into the existing high-efficiency electrolysis and Sabatier Reaction ISRU process. There's another thread for Cyanobacteria. It was just a single phrase of mine that someone (incorrectly) assumed was low TRL and pulled us all off topic. So further talk can be in that other thread.
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Offline DanielW

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #160 on: 01/31/2018 04:23 AM »
One Item to note is that initially exports will merely act as a multiplier for philanthropic spending. As such you don't have to completely recapture the cost of shipping. The fact that you have to return the ships to earth acts as a kind of subsidy. So maybe all your export economy does is allow the philanthropist to send 11 ships instead of 10.

At a minimum that will at least establish the mechanisms of trade between the planets which can later be exploited by whatever brilliant harebrained notion some entrepreneur comes up with.

Also note that the greatest benefit of a lunar economy would be to Mars is that you could vastly improve the amortization picture.  If every ship first made ten flights to the moon before heading off for a Mars Synod then you nearly cut your amortization in half.

Online speedevil

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #161 on: 01/31/2018 07:21 AM »
Also note that the greatest benefit of a lunar economy would be to Mars is that you could vastly improve the amortization picture.  If every ship first made ten flights to the moon before heading off for a Mars Synod then you nearly cut your amortization in half.
Similarly P2P, if it had passenger airframes aged out after 3000 flights.

However, for much cargo, it will not require much thermal protection in cruise, or life support, or anything beyond a bare aluminium cylinder spinning at the proper rate, with small propulsion modules bolted to it to keep it on course.

At some point, you have to question if sending BFS to Mars makes sense for much cargo.
Something like inch thick wall simple aluminium tanks with clip-on navigation packages to get them to Mars, and enough heat-shielding to aerobrake into an eccentric orbit before being caught and landed by something that adds fins like BFS and lands on ISRU propellant. They are thrown to Mars by a BFS-tug, which then does free return around the moon and aerobrakes back into LEO.

Or similar - not saying this is best or even feasible - just that throwing away ISRU fuel and generated energy on the Mars side just to get BFS back to Earth if your sole goal is to get BFS back to earth so you can send them to Mars is odd, if there is absolutely any way to avoid this.
If BFS is in fact able to cycle rapidly, even spending a hundred flights doing things in LEO to get one launch to Mars is probably cheaper than a new BFS.

BFS is awesome, but its design, even if it works out fully doesn't scream 'low cost bulk transport', and something better optimised for that role that doesn't need rapid reusability, needs one landing (or aerobrake pass), and doesn't care about mass ratio is what you should be shipping your cheese wheels to Mars on.
« Last Edit: 01/31/2018 07:27 AM by speedevil »

Online AncientU

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #162 on: 01/31/2018 10:55 AM »
By that point, Martian cheese will be all the rage.  BFS will be used for vital replacements and travelers, workers, settlers.
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Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #163 on: 01/31/2018 04:33 PM »
By that point, Martian cheese will be all the rage.  BFS will be used for vital replacements and travelers, workers, settlers.

Now there's an idea! Aged in transit.

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #164 on: 01/31/2018 05:40 PM »
BFS is optimized for the first 20-30 years at most. By that time there should be a robust in space industrial economy and specializing again is worth doing... but BFS, like the conestoga, will have done its job.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #165 on: 01/31/2018 11:03 PM »
We're still using R7 60 years later, so... don't count BFR out for longer...
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Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #166 on: 02/01/2018 04:41 AM »
Sure. But I would hope that 30 years after BFR starts in service that things have blossomed enough that the numbers are there for specialized vehicles. BFR may still fly many many years after that. Just like DC-3s did.

We're a bit off topic, sorry...
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #167 on: 02/02/2018 09:05 PM »
BFS is awesome, but its design, even if it works out fully doesn't scream 'low cost bulk transport', and something better optimised for that role that doesn't need rapid reusability, needs one landing (or aerobrake pass), and doesn't care about mass ratio is what you should be shipping your cheese wheels to Mars on.
True, if you have the volume (or the govt funding) to justify special purpose vehicles for each stage of the mission.

If you don't you're looking to build the minimum different number of vehicles possible, because otherwise the integration problems multiply.

Assuming Martian settlement takes off BFR/BFS may be viewed as the Concorde of its time. Big enough to demonstrate feasibility of M2.2 travel, however most people who've looked at >M1 travel reckon you need to go quite a bit larger (although Musk said BFS capacity could stretch to 200 pax a vehicle) to be economically viable.


Consider the "delta V" of Earth travel.
A truck at 70mph is 31m/s. A 140mph freight train, 62m/s. Airfreight (at say M0.9) 306m/s.

Now what is it just to get to LMO from the Mars surface? The other way is 4100 m/s alone, and you've effectively gone nowhere yet, despite >10x the highest delta V on Earth.  :(

Assuming you want to minimize operating costs you want to find ways to lower those propellant costs AFAP.  My instinct (on the Mars settlement narrative threads) was to use a solar driven mass driver in daylight hours to get to orbit (No storage batteries to wear out) coupled with a solar sail system to get the payload wherever it's going.

This assumes there is sufficient demand to bankroll the development of a specialized system.
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