Author Topic: Development of a Martian export economy  (Read 42388 times)

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.

Offline 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 »

Offline 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.

Offline Lar

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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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Offline Matt the Czar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #168 on: 02/25/2018 09:20 PM »
I feel it is inevitable that the Martian and Earth economies will be separate with limited exchange between them.  What will make money is either stuff that is ridiculously expensive (like gold, but I feel gold is better off being found in asteroids,) or stuff that can be sent over the radio, like IP, culture; sights and sounds.

Offline Greenfish

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #169 on: 02/26/2018 12:38 PM »
Hi folks, first post, so be gentle. This has been a fascinating thread, and I've learned an awful lot, particularly about the scientific aspects, My background is in economics, and from that perspective, It seems extremely unlikely that Mars would be exporting anything physical before they have established themselves fully as an sustainable settlement, unless we find something on Mars that we don't have on Earth. Essentially it's because the energy required to manufacture a product from scratch from martian materials  is enormous, and they are going to need that energy to build out the colony.

Also I'm not sure about Mars being a great exporter of patents, because most of the patents are going to have to be developed before we get there, with Mars acting as a test lab for refining the processes. But in a way that is better, because it means that we get many of the benefits on our way to mars.

I suppose the key example of this is Space-X. They are the first people to choose settling mars as their goal, so they were aiming to get the cost of getting payload to the surface of Mars down from a million dollars a kilo, down to a couple of thousand dollars a kilo. Every step they've taken along the way has allowed them to outperform their rivals, while rapidly cutting the cost of launching, while producing enough profit to fund the next phase of development. Things are starting to rapidly snowball, and now someone is actually building a spaceship that can go to mars.

But another example from Space-X is to do with Satellites. they Know that they are going to need a lot of communications satellites for Mars, so they are going to need to get that industry mars ready. So they've decided to SpaceXify the communications satellite industry, so expect the price of satellites to plummet at some point in the near future. But combining these two plans to develop Martian infrastructure, Space-X are launching a Global internet constellation that will massively increase the global Internet capacity, but also have enormous impacts on the 4 billion people who currently have no access to broadband internet. Each of these things will in turn generate profits to fund the development of the next stage of technology for a mars colony. while having enormous effects on the global economy.

It's a variation on the old story that every dollar spent on apollo lead to $7 dollars in economic activity, or whatever the number is. Economists refer to this as the positive externalities of the Apollo programme. Musk's insight seems to be to try and grab as many of those externalities as he possibly can, as early as he can, to fund the next phase. This is a plan that makes a lot of sense, and could actually work.

The thing is that in order to build a self sustaining colony on mars, we are going to have to Marsify literally every aspect of economic activity. from the most basic, like Air and water, through primary industries like mining and material extraction and Agriculture, through ore processing through to the manufacture of finished goods. Everything is going to have to be made electric, then work on making it incredibly energy efficient, ultra reliable, incredibly robust, maximum productivity, for minimum inputs, and develop ways to ultimately be able to build it on Mars.

Simply put, if you set as your goal building a Martian Mining machine, along the way, you will wind up building something extraordinary for use here on earth.

This will require us to rethink everything we do here on earth, and will enable us to massively reduce our carbon footprint, by overhauling literally every aspect of human economic activity. For instance, Kimbal Musk is working away at developing Pink house urban farms, working on being able to grow large amounts of vegetables in shipping containers. That work is only at its infancy, but already these processes can substantially reduce the amount of water and nutrients needed to grow things. The challenge is to reduce electrical input and increase productivity. If the ultimate aim is greenhouses on mars, but in the short to medium term, you could see an end to people driving vegetables over and back across the country.  It's also important, because it's unclear how long a state like California, which is suffering a climate change related water shortage, can keep growing lettuce and nuts for the rest of the US because when you are exporting water intensive agricultural produce you are effectively exporting water.

So I suppose really there's not much point of thinking of Mars as someplace that will send us Exports, for a very long time. The economic benefits of Going to mars come from setting going to Mars as your goal, and then all the benefits that accrue from every phase of developing the technology needed to make that work.

Offline Lampyridae

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #170 on: 02/26/2018 01:27 PM »
By that point, Martian cheese will be all the rage.  BFS will be used for vital replacements and travelers, workers, settlers.

Some geological models also allow for the creation of garnet in the Martian crust. So there's something else to put in the rocket.

People pay through the nose for Tanzanite, which is just blue zoisite. Pretty much anything just being from Mars would jack up the price. It's not an export economy by itself, but world trade is made up of everything from wheat to Gundam figurines.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2018 01:27 PM by Lampyridae »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #171 on: 02/26/2018 02:10 PM »
By that point, Martian cheese will be all the rage.  BFS will be used for vital replacements and travelers, workers, settlers.

Some geological models also allow for the creation of garnet in the Martian crust. So there's something else to put in the rocket.

People pay through the nose for Tanzanite, which is just blue zoisite. Pretty much anything just being from Mars would jack up the price. It's not an export economy by itself, but world trade is made up of everything from wheat to Gundam figurines.
The problem with the minerals market (as gemstones or collectibles) is they non consumable and there is a finite market.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #172 on: 02/26/2018 03:20 PM »
Greenfish: No hyphens in space!  SpaceX :)

Interesting first post, welcome.
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Offline AncientU

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #173 on: 02/26/2018 03:43 PM »
Hi folks, first post, so be gentle. This has been a fascinating thread, and I've learned an awful lot, particularly about the scientific aspects, My background is in economics, and from that perspective, It seems extremely unlikely that Mars would be exporting anything physical before they have established themselves fully as an sustainable settlement, unless we find something on Mars that we don't have on Earth. Essentially it's because the energy required to manufacture a product from scratch from martian materials  is enormous, and they are going to need that energy to build out the colony.

...

So I suppose really there's not much point of thinking of Mars as someplace that will send us Exports, for a very long time. The economic benefits of Going to mars come from setting going to Mars as your goal, and then all the benefits that accrue from every phase of developing the technology needed to make that work.

Interesting first post!

You've hit on a key feature of establishing a settlement or colony on Mars... all the technology that will have to be improved and generalized to make it work.  Water use is a good example.  On earth, a water planet, we talk of fresh water 'shortages.'  There is no such thing.  We've always had sufficient water and more, which has caused us to use it wastefully in once-through systems.   Won't have that 'luxury' on Mars.  But water is still water when we get done using it o-n-c-e... even has been 'enriched' with all kinds of lovely nutrients.  On Mars, we'll see things differently and use water and its nutrients over and over.  This tech will make its way back to Earth and become standard practice -- such things as dumping contaminants like PCBs, unused pharmaceuticals, etc. in our water will be banned because of the plan to clean up and reuse that water repeatedly.

It is impossible to predict the extent of the new tech and mindset that will spin out of the Mars adventure, but it will be there.  So the 'export economy' from Mars will be intellectual and technological progress that is inevitable when humanity is pushed into a new environment.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #174 on: 02/26/2018 04:03 PM »
I feel it is inevitable that the Martian and Earth economies will be separate with limited exchange between them.  What will make money is either stuff that is ridiculously expensive (like gold, but I feel gold is better off being found in asteroids,) or stuff that can be sent over the radio, like IP, culture; sights and sounds.
In some ways a Mars settlement is like every settlement that has ever existed on Earth.

There is the internal economy of stuff made there, and used there.

There is the external economy of stuff traded with other places.

But Mars is not like Earth. You can't just chop down some trees and make a log cabin, then clear some land and start growing food because they don't exist.

For the foreseeable future (IE several centuries) Mars will need continuous supplies from Earth.

The trouble with those supplies is a)They get consumed and b)The supply chain to make them is very complex. 

Unlike IP, which is easy to transmit, easy to duplicate and not consumed.

The economies of Earth and Mars are going to be very closely linked for the foreseeable future.

The trouble is a lot of that traffic is going to be one way.  The problem is how to pay for it?  :(
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 by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #175 on: 02/26/2018 05:09 PM »
Hi folks, first post, so be gentle. This has been a fascinating thread, and I've learned an awful lot, particularly about the scientific aspects, My background is in economics, and from that perspective, It seems extremely unlikely that Mars would be exporting anything physical before they have established themselves fully as an sustainable settlement, unless we find something on Mars that we don't have on Earth. Essentially it's because the energy required to manufacture a product from scratch from martian materials  is enormous, and they are going to need that energy to build out the colony.
Welcome to the forum.

You're quite right. In addition to that you have all the delta V involved in getting it off Mars, into Mars/EArth transfer orbit, then down to Earth.

Quote from: Greenfis
Also I'm not sure about Mars being a great exporter of patents, because most of the patents are going to have to be developed before we get there, with Mars acting as a test lab for refining the processes. But in a way that is better, because it means that we get many of the benefits on our way to mars.
Possibly. I think some people are banking on "Necessity is the Mother of invention" and people working on things to improve the quality of life on Mars, once they see what the SoA is. The other ares is bio-isolation. Mars is pretty good for this, but that raise the question how do you get the medical samples to Mars to experiment on, given (presumably) they are viewed as too dangerous to work on here on Earth?
Quote from: Greenfis
I suppose the key example of this is Space-X. They are the first people to choose settling mars as their goal, so they were aiming to get the cost of getting payload to the surface of Mars down from a million dollars a kilo, down to a couple of thousand dollars a kilo. Every step they've taken along the way has allowed them to outperform their rivals, while rapidly cutting the cost of launching, while producing enough profit to fund the next phase of development. Things are starting to rapidly snowball, and now someone is actually building a spaceship that can go to mars.
Not just "someone" but SX as well.
Quote from: Greenfis
It's a variation on the old story that every dollar spent on apollo lead to $7 dollars in economic activity, or whatever the number is. Economists refer to this as the positive externalities of the Apollo programme.
Actually it's the same story that "A dollar/yen/Euro spent on nuclear/space/aero/offshore is not money spent in those environments, but by people in the places they are built. "
However the "spin off" argument is quite difficult to use in SX's case as (AFAIK) they don't like to patent stuff, as it allows competitors to understand what they are doing.
Quote from: Greenfis
Musk's insight seems to be to try and grab as many of those externalities as he possibly can, as early as he can, to fund the next phase. This is a plan that makes a lot of sense, and could actually work.
You'll have to explain that a bit more. He's lowered the cost to orbit for payloads of a certain size by a certain amount. Beyond that?
Quote from: Greenfish
The thing is that in order to build a self sustaining colony on mars, we are going to have to Marsify literally every aspect of economic activity. from the most basic, like Air and water, through primary industries like mining and material extraction and Agriculture, through ore processing through to the manufacture of finished goods. Everything is going to have to be made electric, then work on making it incredibly energy efficient, ultra reliable, incredibly robust, maximum productivity, for minimum inputs, and develop ways to ultimately be able to build it on Mars.
I think Musks contention is that is not necessary. Fairly standard gear designed for Earth is good enough to start the ball rolling. BTW what is a game changer is the discovery of large Methane deposits on Mars. That gives Mars a non solar option for manufacturing (especially crude ore processing)
Quote from: Greenfish
Simply put, if you set as your goal building a Martian Mining machine, along the way, you will wind up building something extraordinary for use here on earth.
To which the classic counter argument is that you could have developed that a lot more cheaply by focusing on developing whatever you're talking about directly.
Quote from: Greenfish
This will require us to rethink everything we do here on earth, and will enable us to massively reduce our carbon footprint, by overhauling literally every aspect of human economic activity. For instance, Kimbal Musk is working away at developing Pink house urban farms, working on being able to grow large amounts of vegetables in shipping containers.


That work is only at its infancy, but already these processes can substantially reduce the amount of water and nutrients needed to grow things. The challenge is to reduce electrical input and increase productivity. If the ultimate aim is greenhouses on mars, but in the short to medium term, you could see an end to people driving vegetables over and back across the country.  It's also important, because it's unclear how long a state like California, which is suffering a climate change related water shortage, can keep growing lettuce and nuts for the rest of the US because when you are exporting water intensive agricultural produce you are effectively exporting water.
As are probably half a dozen others looking to deliver a more efficient farming solution.
Quote from: Greenfish
So I suppose really there's not much point of thinking of Mars as someplace that will send us Exports, for a very long time.
Assuming SX will handle developing the transport infrastructure to get to Mars and back who do you see developing the settlement and its infrastructure, and how do you see it being paid for?
Quote from: Greenfish
The economic benefits of Going to mars come from setting "going to Mars" as your goal, and then all the benefits that accrue from every phase of developing the technology needed to make that work.
Do you mean a lot of them haven't happened yet?
« Last Edit: 02/26/2018 05:14 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 by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline JamesH65

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #176 on: 02/26/2018 06:40 PM »
By that point, Martian cheese will be all the rage.  BFS will be used for vital replacements and travelers, workers, settlers.

Some geological models also allow for the creation of garnet in the Martian crust. So there's something else to put in the rocket.

People pay through the nose for Tanzanite, which is just blue zoisite. Pretty much anything just being from Mars would jack up the price. It's not an export economy by itself, but world trade is made up of everything from wheat to Gundam figurines.
The problem with the minerals market (as gemstones or collectibles) is they non consumable and there is a finite market.

Being a finite market doesn't seem to affected the sales of diamonds and gold.  Although the diamond market is where it is artificially now that man made diamonds are so good.

*If* Mars produces some unique gemstones, I don't seem the market for that running out within some hundreds of years is maintained like the diamond market.

Offline Greenfish

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #177 on: 02/27/2018 02:15 PM »
By that point, Martian cheese will be all the rage.  BFS will be used for vital replacements and travelers, workers, settlers.

Some geological models also allow for the creation of garnet in the Martian crust. So there's something else to put in the rocket.

People pay through the nose for Tanzanite, which is just blue zoisite. Pretty much anything just being from Mars would jack up the price. It's not an export economy by itself, but world trade is made up of everything from wheat to Gundam figurines.
The problem with the minerals market (as gemstones or collectibles) is they non consumable and there is a finite market.

Being a finite market doesn't seem to affected the sales of diamonds and gold.  Although the diamond market is where it is artificially now that man made diamonds are so good.

*If* Mars produces some unique gemstones, I don't seem the market for that running out within some hundreds of years is maintained like the diamond market.

The Diamond market is a bit weirder than that. It's segmented into 2 main parts. There are Gemstone quality diamonds, which accounts for about 7 tonnes a year, but that's only 20% of the total amount mined. The rest aren't good enough so they're used for industrial purposes. Then there's nearly 1000 tonnes of artificial diamonds, mostly manufactured in china. You wouldn't really put one of these on a ring. It wouldn't look very good. 

De Beers spent the entire 20th century buying up every raw diamond in the world because 7 tonnes of gemstone quality diamonds is actually way more than the market can handle, so they've been artificially restricting the supply of diamonds for a long time. So as you point out there's only limited scope for martian gems but who knows what people will buy.

Offline niwax

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #178 on: 02/27/2018 02:41 PM »
There might be a chance for a Martian economy precisely because of the issue with getting in and out of earths gravity well: Spaceflight. An earth-sized rocket launched from Mars would have tremendous capability and a permanent settlement would at the very least have the necessary capabilities to prepare and launch rockets. Looking at the difference in difficulty between launching stuff from Earth and Mars, a whole lot of those dreams somewhere between deep space satellites, huge orbital stations and generation ships become much more realistic if they're calculated using Mars launches. It might even replace some of the more exotic concept of orbital construction.

Offline Greenfish

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Re: Development of a Martian export economy
« Reply #179 on: 02/27/2018 05:21 PM »
Possibly. I think some people are banking on "Necessity is the Mother of invention" and people working on things to improve the quality of life on Mars, once they see what the SoA is. The other ares is bio-isolation. Mars is pretty good for this, but that raise the question how do you get the medical samples to Mars to experiment on, given (presumably) they are viewed as too dangerous to work on here on Earth?

Oh undoubtedly there'll be a lot of work done fine tuning things on mars (We know relatively little about martian conditions) but the vast majority of stuff is going to have to be sorted out before we go. Because 2 years til the next rocket is a long time to have something that is a long way from the finished article.

Quote
Actually it's the same story that "A dollar/yen/Euro spent on nuclear/space/aero/offshore is not money spent in those environments, but by people in the places they are built. "
However the "spin off" argument is quite difficult to use in SX's case as (AFAIK) they don't like to patent stuff, as it allows competitors to understand what they are doing.

Actually the thing I'm talking about is a bit different to the keynesian multiplier you get from pumping an apollo sized amount of money into all 50 states. I'm more talking about the economic impact that comes about from the technologies and and the changes that you bring about, and how they combine in all sorts of different ways to create new unexpected opportunities.

From the point of view of spaceX we're really only at the beginning of this process, because ultimately knocking $30 odd million off launching something that costs $500 million into orbit isn't really that much of a deal in the whole scheme of things. So far it's mostly funding the development of the next phase, (And I would include landing the rocket, and reusing it in this, as it's kind of useless from the point of view of dominating the current global launch market, but it is all really useful work for the BFR) It's when you get to the point where you have the BFS that is capable of spitting out enough Low cost Satellites, to bring satellite internet to the whole planet. That is likely to lead to a substantial surge in global development (and lets face it, judging by politics in the internet age among those who already have the internet, probably a lot of war until things settle down) 

Then throw in that the BFS suddenly makes LEO manufacturing a possibility to enable you to launch huge inflatable space station components, and to ferry up and down large amounts of inputs and products. Then throw in that shuttle with a cargo bay of 9 metres can launch a telescope that makes hubble look like a toy, and you start to see some of the externalities arising from the Space X aspect alone. It's not that what SpaceX are doing is just revolutionizing the space industry, it's making entirely new industries possible.

Now consider what you could achieve if you made a huge leap forward in water management and reclamation systems? think of all the possible applications such an advance would have on earth. Water is a problem virtually everywhere, and frequently a limiting factor to Human activity. It's not really so much about what each individual product updated for mars would allow you to do, but it's the other applications that you could put it to.

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I think Musks contention is that is not necessary. Fairly standard gear designed for Earth is good enough to start the ball rolling. BTW what is a game changer is the discovery of large Methane deposits on Mars. That gives Mars a non solar option for manufacturing (especially crude ore processing)

There's very little that we don't have a good basic grasp of, but literally every aspect of human industrial activity is going to have to be optimized for Mars. and it's that optimization that we can profit from on earth. Again everything has to be made as lightweight as possible. Incredibly robust, and reliable, (Because maintenance is going to be hard) Energy is going to be a limiting factor, so it has to be ultra efficient, and obviously powered by electricity. And because people are going to be pretty scarce on Mars, you're going to want it to be as autonomous as possible.

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Simply put, if you set as your goal building a Martian Mining machine, along the way, you will wind up building something extraordinary for use here on earth.
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To which the classic counter argument is that you could have developed that a lot more cheaply by focusing on developing whatever you're talking about directly.


If that was the case, we'd be a lot further along than we currently are. I think where this approach differs is that currently companies are looking to make something a little bit better than the product they currently have. That's not necessarily the recipe for success. Elon Musk could have stopped further development on the falcon 9 at space X in 2014 and dominated the global launch market, but it's going to mars that pushed them towards reuse.

If your aim is to produce a marginally better mining machine, you'll produce a marginally better mining machine. If your aim is to produce a mining machine that can work on Mars, then suddenly your target is a lot further away, and you'd better get cracking. Ultimately it's about providing an incentive to drive the development of technology faster than the current market based system is managing. 


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As are probably half a dozen others looking to deliver a more efficient farming solution.

Undoubtedly but again someone who is aiming to go to mars, is going to have to drive the technological pace, and force everyone else to keep up, which is how you drive the pace of change.

Essentially it boils down to this. The relentless focus on stock price in the US economy,  and the short termist nature of the kind of thinking this leads to, means that there is a major underinvestment in applied technology and R&D in the US economy, and humanity as a whole. Aiming for a target that is attainable, yet sufficiently far away to be transformative, means we will get there a lot quicker, and gain the benefits of the journey as we go. 

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Do you mean a lot of them haven't happened yet?

Only a tiny fraction of it has happened yet. Only really Elon Musk and his relations and his investors are in on this yet, and they're only beginning. But already you can start to see SpaceX move from being a company that launched to the ISS, and started to take over the commercial launch market, to being a satellite manufacturer, with the aim of providing services, which is where the real money is. If Starlink works, it will dwarf the other parts of spaceX in terms of revenue.

This is quite important, because Given the Current political climate, and the general attitude towards spending on science and NASA in general, the only way Elon Musk is going to go to Mars is if he builds the ships that can get us there, and fills them with everything they're going to need. On some level I think he already knows this. I see he's developing a machine for boring through rock. I notice that he's encouraging the development of a high speed transit system, that makes a lot more sense on Mars than it does on earth. Throw in the electric autonomous vehicles, the solar power, and battery development, and you can start to see a bit of a pattern.

The other thing is that if you look at the investor lists of SpaceX and Tesla, you'll see that it's full of Venture capitalists. This sort of thing is the thing the dream about. God knows what else they have in the works. Coming soon to a shop near you, the SpaceX martian dishwasher.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2018 06:35 PM by Greenfish »

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