Author Topic: Development of a Martian export economy  (Read 37326 times)

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7475
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1122
  • Likes Given: 7541
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 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 sghill

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1362
  • United States
  • Liked: 1516
  • Likes Given: 2178
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

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 122
  • washington, DC
  • Liked: 83
  • Likes Given: 41
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

  • Member
  • Posts: 78
  • Hong Kong
  • Liked: 60
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Liked: 56
  • Likes Given: 7
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.

Offline RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2428
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 1244
  • Likes Given: 938
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

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
  • Liked: 248
  • Likes Given: 336
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 547
  • Liked: 105
  • Likes Given: 0
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7475
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1122
  • Likes Given: 7541
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 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 mgeagon

  • Member
  • Posts: 78
  • Hong Kong
  • Liked: 60
  • Likes Given: 1
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1362
  • United States
  • Liked: 1516
  • Likes Given: 2178
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

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 887
  • Liked: 473
  • Likes Given: 289
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

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 511
  • Amsterdam
    • About Crises
  • Liked: 249
  • Likes Given: 358
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

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10176
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 7036
  • Likes Given: 4817
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7475
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1122
  • Likes Given: 7541
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 »
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 DanielW

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 477
  • L-22
  • Liked: 339
  • Likes Given: 62
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.

Offline speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2294
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1137
  • Likes Given: 1266
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

  • Member
  • Posts: 78
  • Hong Kong
  • Liked: 60
  • Likes Given: 1
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 »

Offline speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2294
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1137
  • Likes Given: 1266
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7475
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1122
  • Likes Given: 7541
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 »
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.

Tags: