86 thoughts on “Elon And Mars”

  1. Yeah. With a stepping stone approach you don’t need a huge rocket like the one he proposes. Plus the stepping stone approach would truly open the way towards near space exploration.
    You could have bases around Earth orbit and/or around the Moon, Phobos/Deimos and then Mars orbit with propellant depots along the way. More like a train and less like an airplane.
    The requirements for making the propellant depots and the space stations in between places are kinda similar to the requirements to do a space ship which can traverse those distances. Large tanks and long duration space habitats. Except you don’t need to bring everything with you along the entire way. Plus it enables future optimization of the vehicles. Why should you need to carry a heat shield along the entire route when you only need one to descent a planetary surface?

    1. Plus the stepping stone approach would truly open the way towards near space exploration.

      It would also open the way for going where the resources are, which are just a bit further out than Mars.

      From a game (or gamer) theory perspective, resources leads to expansive build rate. It would take longer to get these resources than current proposals but it would lead to enormous long term gains. Obviously, there is a near/far mix here but a track that locks our society onto one path wont enable maximum results 100 or 200 years from now.

      Considering the problem of time in space based activities and that we want a sustained presence for cultural/societal longevity and influence, we really need to look far ahead and give people/groups the freedom to act without trying to control what happens or capture potential inertia into just one track.

    2. “Why should you need to carry a heat shield along the entire route when you only need one to descent a planetary surface?”

      It makes sense to do this if the mass of the heat shield is less than the mass of propellant needed to slow down to orbital velocity. At least, it does if you’ve got an atmosphere with which to aerobrake at both ends of the journey.

  2. No reason to think his plan will be literally followed, but the document has a whole lot of specs for his rockets and stuff. I thought it was neat.

    1. literally followed

      Word around the campfire is that Musk will adopt many of Bob Zubrin’s suggested modifications to the architecture.

      We should know more in September when Musk will issue an updated plan.

  3. We are estimating about $140,000 per ton to Mars.

    There will be other critics of his plan. Mine is the thing others will not consider… it is too conventional.

    He wants to make a profit selling tickets, which is fine and very conventional, but that means it will not scale as he hopes. Which means it stalls until the next mars fanatic which now has this historic lesson of failure holding back funding. If it doesn’t outright fail, it will limp along hiding the fact that there is a much better way.

    The colonists will be filtered by ticket cost which means many that would make great martians will never go. Those that do go will have paid the mass surcharge for their personal property taking away a potential resource for colony development.

    The good news is these are all fixable and can work with his architecture. The best news will be the red Dragon flights will likely be counted on which will allow proof before major commitments.

    Terraforming is a non-issue because the martians will choose what to do hundreds of years from now.

    Govt. will be at odds with the martian settlers. They will not accept govt. telling them how to live. They will claim property. But they will struggle because people are too stupid to do the right thing from the start.

    But I am doing the Snoopy dance because I’ve now some new numbers to work with.

    Will the earth go the way of Venezuela before we get a sustainable mars colony?

    1. I think the point about the ticket price is that this is something that many normal people can do by themselves. There may be other ways people can be subsidized as well, like particular needed skill sets or wage slavery…

      1. There may be other ways people can be subsidized as well

        I haven’t read the pdf yet but from his speech a while back, he wants a concerted effort from many different groups of people. Some people might pay their own way but government, businesses, and NGO’s would also play a role.

        1. Neither will provide the flood of colonists desired and they will have too few resources when they arrive. I know what Elon’s point is MikeR. My point is you can take everybody that wants to go which includes those normal people. Also, done right, they arrive with the resources to follow dreams in all directions rather than being a cog in other peoples machines.

          We are going to lose hundreds of years of opportunity cost and ‘learn’ all the wrong lessons because people can’t resist ‘planning mode.’

          The people that aren’t going are going to plan the limited lives of those that do. IT HAS NEVER WORKED.

          1. “Neither will provide the flood of colonists desired and they will have too few resources when they arrive.”

            If you want my thoughts as to how a privately settled Mars colony(s) might become profitable relatively quickly:

            “My thoughts along that line would be what I call the “Bank of Mars”. Describable as a private colony on Mars (or the Moon) setup by private citizens like the current Mars one Group effort. After establishing the colony on Mars, they declare themselves to be independent of earth, the private colonists renouncing their citizenship of whatever country they were from. They are now free to accept “donations” electronically transferred to them from supporters on Earth via a satellite link (probably multiple ones) to the colony database on Mars. The Mars colony then re-invests the funds back on earth and pays its “depositors” interests based on the funds’ performance; (and also supports the colony the same way). Sort of like and ultimate version of the Cayman Islands; absolute privacy between depositors and the colony. As far as the gov is concerned tax free; since the gov has no way of knowing what return depositors are getting on their “donations” to the colony. Tax shelters as I am sure you know are huge…you are basically trading upon the greatest asset a private independent colony on Mars would have; its sovereign independence. Something like that could very quickly run into the 100’s of billions of dollars relatively quickly; far faster than other schemes like asteroid mining/power sats etc. would.”
            http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=67539#comments

          2. re: “Bank of Mars”

            There are different types of banks. A local community bank on mars could be established to facilitate local transactions using ATM cards on accounts backed by local assets. That’s not what you’re talking about.

            You’re talking about an investment firm which can be located anywhere, where the bottom line is trust. The fear being somebody Madoff with your money.

            An institution that starts with real assets, rather than just a promise to invest wisely is my Mars Development Trust. The colonists get a free travel ticket in exchange for claiming all territory into the trust. The Trust auctions off land by the hectare and all revenue is used to pay travel expenses for anyone that wants to go. It would have to be managed properly but result in mars property having immediate trade value.

            It doesn’t matter if others have different plans in dispute. Those title holders will become a powerful constituency defended by people in possession that owe their presence on mars to supporting this arrangement.

            Claims always have to be defended and these will have the ability like none other to do so.

          3. Ken, I remember saying to you that I approved of your idea in general but that there was something missing that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I think this Bank of Mars idea may be that missing piece of the puzzle. It’s a natural offshoot of the Mars Development Trust; the MDT finances getting the people and materiel there in the first place, then they can set up the BoM, and you’re off to the races.

          4. Credit Union – Savings and Loan – Commercial Bank – International Investment Bank

            Which type?

          5. Why not have four banks, one of each type? Cover all the bases. Or better, multiple competing banks of each type.

      2. From Ken “ The colonists get a free travel ticket in exchange for claiming all territory into the trust.

        Query: What does this part mean? The colonists assign territory to the trust or they get it from the trust?

        1. The land is an asset that exists of undetermined value. When the first martians arrive they will claim the land by possession which is the historical precedent. However, they will not claim it for themselves; they have a contract with the Trust that paid their travel expenses. They will claim it into the trust. The Trust will sell all of it by auction by hectare. The colonists can bid on it just like everybody else on earth.

          Auction money goes into the Trust. Travel tickets are paid by the Trust. Auction winners get title filed in the local mars records office.

          1. So, basically people claiming property are better off not increasing the value of the land they claim, until they have bought it.
            And people can go to mars and claim property without giving it to the trust, if Trust doesn’t pay for their tickets.

            And why wouldn’t you use different bank to loan you the money,
            or using other banks is “allowed”, yes?

          2. Land is going to be cheap for a long time, but grow percentage wise as those types of assets do. Which is to say, their value as an investment will likely be more than much more expensive land.

            Colonists will have an advantage in choosing what land to buy simply due to onsite inspection and the fact they don’t have to hire someone to make improvements unless they want to.

            people claiming property are better off not increasing the value of the land they claim, until they have bought it.

            Isn’t that always true? Why improve something if not for your own benefit?

            people can go to mars and claim property without giving it to the trust

            Of course, but then they will not have the benefit of the Trust and its title holding members defending those claims. I expect a lot of claims that are not part of the Trust, even by states that signed the OST which makes their claims legally invalid.

            There will of course be conflicts, but the Trust will be in the absolute best position to resolve those conflicts in its favor. Plus, it doesn’t matter when they don’t because the Trust pays for the greatest inflow of colonists giving them the upper hand. Over time things will resolve themselves with those buying land through the Trust in the safest legal position.

    2. He wants to make a profit selling tickets, which is fine and very conventional, but that means it will not scale as he hopes.

      Maybe but many of the things you have talked about could still happen.

      1. Which is what I said, but only if the spark catches fire. My expectation is we will get it wrong for a long time and may never get it right.

        It’s like Gregg, a private pilot flying VFR in UNCONTROLLED airspace, talking over a frequency he’s been assigned, to a guy that is probably not in the same state he’s flying in, since ARTCCs handle up to 7 states, telling a former controller what type of station his controller is sitting in front of.

        If I had never lived my experience I would have been agreeing with him 110%. Up until my experience I’d always seen controllers sitting in front of radar screen’s. As a kid I hopped the fence at Luke AFB to visit my airforce buddy that loaded the tapes on the radar. Right before my training in OKC I spent time with military controllers at Davis Monthan where interception just requires giving one plane a heading… nothing at all like what is required for a clearance.

        I thought the exact same thing Gregg does and I was wrong.

        People don’t understand the economics of a planet economy. Bill Whittle explains it better than anyone with Thomas Sowell ahead in other ways.

        The most important thing is to oversupply them with energy which Pournelle pointed out 45 years ago. The next is live off the land which Zubrin himself hasn’t really articulated even with his research stations (which are a backward step in some respects.)

        If we give them enough starting resources they’ll figure it out for themselves once they begin to ignore the ‘planners’ (some of which may be colonists ‘in charge.’)

        The problem is some of the resources are lost by using the wrong method of getting there (obviously I’m not referring to the vehicle architecture.)

        I’m going to be dead long before they ever get it right and it didn’t have to be so.

        I’ll still be a cheer leader but filled with sadness at what might have been.

        1. While I have no question property rights for colonists is a necessary part of the solution, I’m not seeing a direct value to Martian real estate to someone stuck on Earth. So what value would an Earth bound billionaire find for having colonists on Mars?

          Looking at the early colonization of North America, investors looked at cash crops that could be produced in the colonies and transported back to the old world for a profitable sale. This requires cutting the transport cost dramatically. I’m not seeing large demand for anything produced on Mars for sale at ~$100/kg that can’t be as easily produced closer to Earth.

          Later, =after= North America developed an industry base and could produce what it really needed locally, immigrants started paying their own ticket. But again, transport cost relative to median income had come way down relative to what we’re looking at for early Mars transport.

          1. I’m not seeing a direct value to Martian real estate to someone stuck on Earth.

            Think penny stocks. High volatility with high risk/reward.

            It wouldn’t matter if some hectare on mars sold for a penny because of location. Sell it for 2 cents and you’ve made 100% profit. Everything will find it’s natural value and will go up because land will be possessed and developed over time.

            Ancient man invested over generations and it worked fine.

            We will not have to wait that long and anyone without patience can simply sell to someone that has it.

          2. Pennies a hectare sounds well into mad money or novelty purchases, something people would spend just to say they own a piece of Mars. What kind of average price does your plan need to work?

          3. The surface area of Mars is 144.8 million km^2, and there are 100 hectares per km^2, so that’s 14.48 billion hectares. Pennies per hectare might not do it, but dollars per hectare, well, a dollar here, a dollar there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.

  4. I don’t think he’s interested in exploring space, I think he’s interested in creating redundancy for life on Earth. He’s an AGW believer, but even setting that aside, he’s worried we’ve got all of our eggs (humanity) in one basket (Earth). That’s a different motive than exploration, with different methods and plans to match. For example, he’s not worried about trading one gravity well for another, because his purpose isn’t to continue expanding further and further out.

    1. Which fits a lot of the facts except one (and it’s a big one.) His transport is not designed specifically for mars. His booster is designed just for earth. His ship (the small one!!!) has half a dozen targets it can both go to and return from.

      Some may actually just tool around the solar system without ever returning to earth.

  5. “You’re talking about an investment firm which can be located anywhere, where the bottom line is trust. The fear being somebody Madoff with your money.”

    Yes there would be a fiduciary (trust) element at work with my idea; but remember if it (the investments) are run by the private Mars colonists who have declared their sovereign independence from Earth they still needs Earth’s good will. After all they plan on using the investment capital (and the return off of) to support the colony. If people think they are being cheated they would likely stop making donations (and/or withdrawal the ones already made); and you the colonist(s) are stuck on Mars; needing said capital to import needed supplies/goods/etc. to survive & develop Mars.

    ” The colonists get a free travel ticket in exchange for claiming all territory into the trust. The Trust auctions off land by the hectare and all revenue is used to pay travel expenses for anyone that wants to go.”

    Interesting idea accept how do you auction off what you don’t have a legally recognized title to? You can under existing law if you are a Mars colonist (emigrated from Earth) renounce your citizenship from whatever country you had it in. You can build/import your colony on Mars (or the moon) and claim ownership of said colonies’ environs; you can’t yet make a generally recognized claim of ownership of the land (Mars) upon which it rests to say nothing of Mars land in general.

    1. Interesting idea accept how do you auction off what you don’t have a legally recognized title to?

      Things are legal because enough of the right people say they are. If the colonists get their ticket paid by the MDT, the ticket is a contract that stipulates they will defend those property rights and being the people actually on mars, nobody would have a stronger argument.

      In time, those that disagree will lose the argument.

      This isn’t that controversial and I’ve actually run it by lawyers that say it is absolutely workable.

      Ambulance chasers think of a Trust as something that happens when people die, so the lawyers that might implement something like this are harder to find (lawyers generally being lazy because they have many easier ways of making money.)

      But it would work. It just requires somebody to pay a lawyer to set it up. A wealthy person that cared could do it in a heart beat.

  6. And as an aside…you mentioned Madoff. Not endorsing the idea but imagine a future version of Bernie Madoff (or some such cheat/criminal) transferring his ill gotten gain to my “Bank of Mars” and then “transferring” himself ahead of his indictments/arrests? Mars would have no extradition treaties with earth so he (and his $50 billion) would be home free if he made it to Mars alive. Having independent sovereignty is a very powerful tool if the colonist are willing to use it to its fullest. There just has to be a big plus (freedom economic & otherwise) to counter balance the big minus of emigrating to let’s face it the most dangerous place humans have tried to live to date.

    1. No extradition treaty doesn’t guarantee no extradition. It does generally mean the requesting country needs to persuade the hosting country that the requested individual is not desirable to keep around running free, or that some legal standard of evidence and .expected trial is met.

    2. No extradition treaty doesn’t guarantee no extradition. It does generally mean the requesting country needs to persuade the hosting country that the requested individual is not desirable to keep around running free, or that some legal standard of evidence and expected trial is met.

      1. “No extradition treaty doesn’t guarantee no extradition. It does generally mean the requesting country needs to persuade the hosting country that the requested individual is not desirable to keep around running free, or that some legal standard of evidence and expected trial is met.”

        There won’t be “countries” on Mars for sometime just widely scattered settlements; they will no doubt each have their own laws with some degree of mutual cooperation. They (the Mars colonists) will have little incentive collectively to want to discourage emigration of people from earth bringing resources (like a fleeing tax cheat like Madoff). To think of various other sorts of “political prisoner” type folks fleeing earth; especially if they are well heeled. Very convenient having an independent “bank” on Mars. How long was it in American History when someone fleeing the autocratic states in Europe for tax evasion or other things could come to America and be home free? How much gold/money sat in the bank of New York placed there by expatriate individuals avoiding taxes (& jail). In the case of Mars their won’t be a “nation of mars” for quite some time. Just independent colonies with their own laws and some degree of limited cooperation between them. Look how sovereign our individual states used to be not too long ago. Wasn’t that many years ago (even as comparatively late as the Bonny & Clyde days) when you could actually rob a bank in Indiana, cross the border into Ohio and be effectively home free. One of the reasons the FBI was created I believe.

  7. One can spend forever nit-picking any given proposal to death.

    Given Mr. Musk’s fondness for aircraft analogies, for example, I am surprised to see no freighter-only version of the Spaceship as part of ITS. We have a tanker and what the civil aircraft industry calls a “combi” – combined passengers and freight – but no dedicated freighter.

    This particular lacuna is one I expect to see explicitly addressed well before the first ITS test launch. I don’t obsess over its absence from the currently published plan as it is a fairly trivial addition to make.

    In short – if one puts entirely to one side the whole question of whether settling Mars is actually the optimal initial approach to settling space – Musk’s plan is the most detailed, complete in the ways that matter, and economically practical such item extant. It’s solid. NASA’s “Journey to Mars,” in contrast, is largely gas. The Mars One fantasy is a pretty good grade of hard vacuum.

    As Musk notes, the two hardest parts of the architecture, the engine and the cryogenic LOX tank, are already at the prototype stage and early performance has been good. From a tankage standpoint, ITS is actually further along than SLS at the moment. Raptor isn’t quite as nailed-down yet as the RS-25, but it will almost certainly have a new production line up and running sooner. Overall, ITS will probably test fly only modestly later than the earliest versions of SLS and beat Block 2 into service by a significant margin.

    I’m also unconcerned about the absence of any grand, a priori design for sovereignty and property rights in land and other assets. The pioneer colonists will work out property rights and claiming procedures informally once in situ. At some indefinite future point the Free Republic of Mars will be declared, sovereignty will be asserted over the entire planet and existing land uses will be grandfathered into whatever formal system is developed to establish title going forward.

    This shouldn’t even be objectionable under the Outer Space Treaty. OST just prohibits Earth nations from making claims of sovereignty in space. It is silent on the matter of non-Earth nations arising and making autarkic claims of sovereignty.

    As for the funding model, Musk’s has the advantage of being self-contained, workable from the start and capable of arbitrary scale-up. Making the settlers pay their own way also serves, frankly, as a pretty good mechanism for filtering out the riff-raff. Only people firmly committed to the project and with substantial personal skin – up to and including all of it – in the game will be going initially.

    I like Wild West analogies about space settlement as much as the next man. But one of the things that made the West wild was the low bar to entry. Martian society deserves an extended chance to establish norms that are not under constant assault by ne’er-do-wells and the criminally-inclined.

    So I would advise anyone whose personal grand scheme for Solar System settlement differs from that of Mr. Musk to spend some time figuring out how your favorite settlement hobbyhorses can be best aided by the existence of the SpaceX ITS Mars architecture. If any Mars settlement architecture is going to happen, it’s going to be Musk’s. Plan accordingly.

    1. The nice thing about living in an environment that can kill is the low tolerance of criminals (beyond petty theft.) Shunning should be very effective in reducing the crime rate (reducing living criminals anyway.)

    2. “The pioneer colonists will work out property rights and claiming procedures informally once in situ. At some indefinite future point the Free Republic of Mars will be declared, sovereignty will be asserted over the entire planet and existing land uses will be grandfathered into whatever formal system is developed to establish title going forward.”

      Yuppers…eventually. Until then the inability of the countries on earth to decide collectively who owns what beyond earth (the Moon treaty that thank God hasn’t been ratified by the major space powers) is a good thing. When there are hundreds of settlements and million(s) of people on Mars (if not well before) they will have their own version of property rights. Whether earth acknowledges it legally or not as a practical matter the issue would be resolved in Mar’s favor. Until then the 1967 Celestial bodies treaty should prevent any earthside country (or especially the UN) from claiming any sort of sovereignty.

    3. I am surprised to see no freighter-only version…

      Zubrin made a related comment in his critique saying it’s about payload to mars, not spaceships to mars.

      The final plan may not be a plan at all but healthy competition with elements of these plans. Even if not perfect, getting red Dragon and ITS to mars is going to eliminate a lot of fruitless debate. We shall move forward. With Elon building components (hardest first) a lot quicker than some expect (although ITS development still has many years to go. I’m looking forward to the first suborbital earth tests. A real mars SSTO!)

      1. “The final plan may not be a plan at all but healthy competition with elements of these plans.”

        Hey Ken. Finally! Someone mentions that plans are all well and good, but things seldom play out exactly as we thought they might. I enjoy planning as well, and we should, but I try to remember that outside factors, like real life, always occur. There is, as you say, competition, a mixture, and that is indeed healthy.

        One area particularly interesting to me is the first, baby steps. It’s cool of Elon to provide a design for a giant ship. In a steady-state, mature, fully formed space economy we could well expect to see a big ITS in Earth orbit every 26 months–actually bunches of them. This is what the market could evolve to, his transports and others’, all analogous to ocean liners making a long journey. This level of traffic is what makes the individual fares reasonable.

        However, to start with, how about that first team (company) that goes to Mars–and breaks even? To me, Jeff Greason’s island hopping analogy works best, shifted from a military to commercial objectives. If I’m interpreting it correctly, it’s another way of trying to determine the Minimum Viable Product to sell to investors.

        Again, multiple big ships with 100-200 “passengers” each, is pretty cool, and would be a nice medium term future. I’m more interested in the short term. After flag-and-footprints, what would a six to ten person commercial mission look like?

    4. Free Republic of Mars

      Hopefully, this isn’t the case. It would be nice to see many different self governing groups that aren’t shackled to a planetwide government. It would be pretty terrible on Earth, can’t imagine it being better on Mars.

  8. I approved of your idea in general but that there was something missing that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

    The thing is Ed, with my comments here you only get to see a peep hole into my thoughts. That’s why a book is a good idea but I may not be good enough to do it?

    The various institutions mars will need cover the same range they do on earth, including record keeping (ie. title offices, etc.), financial institutions (banks with different purposes.), commodity exchanges and others.

    Economic factors will work exactly the same on mars as anywhere else. Money will have a time value. Wealth will be produced way beyond the materials and labor input into it (so very well explained by Bill Whittle.)

    Logistics has always been a factor in value. With mars, that factor will be better understood by those affected by it (both positive and negative.)

    Mars doesn’t need technology. That they will have as time passes. What the martians need is for people to give a sh*t about their future, which means setting them up right, right from the start. They don’t need planners beyond a rudimentary level. They need the resources to make their own, omni-directional liberty and freedom respecting plans in what some would see as anarchy but really isn’t.

    Economics is an anarchic system and works beautifully that way.

    We are dangerously likely to deprive the colonists of the resources that are already sitting on mars waiting for them. Mars will develop best as it did in industrial America when people have the resources to follow there dreams and govt. is just a minor pest nobody pays much attention to. he 49 minors didn’t need govt. to organize them. They did that mostly on their own with local governance.

    The pioneers did fine moving west, but had to keep moving as the lawyers back east claimed the lands they tamed. We should not allow history to repeat itself. Those risking their lives to benefit all of humanity should be able to keep some of it.

    They should not plant just for others to reap. AND THEY SHOULDN’T BE STRANGLED BECAUSE THOSE UNWILLING TO RISK THEIR OWN LIVES ARE UNWILLING TO LET THE PIONEERS HAVE THEIRS.

    The caps were accidental, but I’m leaving them.

    All the selfish on earth have to do is acknowledge land claimed by physical possession. This is not asking too much.

    To avoid total anarchy all that is required is a charter that specifies how land will come to be owned. I say by auction opened to everybody on earth. Even the poorest will be able to successfully bid because value will vary by location. Selling by the hectare will prevent someone from monopolizing the land.

    Land held in title is a primary economic engine. Read what Thomas Sowell says about India where regulations stifle economic growth.

    See, I do need to write a book. But I’m just a bum with passion.

    I care about these humans on mars I will probably never know.

    1. Tiny nitpic
      “Economics is an anarchic system and works beautifully that way.”

      Economics is not an economic system. I believe you mean’t capitalism?

      1. I didn’t say what you said. Try again.

        I was pointing out that economics works in a decentralized fashion. Central control usually making it worse.

        1. I thought the same as Vladislaw, that you had meant to say that capitalism is anarchic. “Economics” also applies to socialism and fascism and feudalism.

          1. Economics encompasses many systems. The point being it has rules that are not violated by any of them and predictable results even though anarchy on some scales.

            I have often regarded my ability to convey my thoughts with dismay.

          2. If you write that book, I’ll edit it for you. Having a fresh st of eyes going over your work will help to highlight areas where your thoughts are not clearly conveyed.

          3. Ed, you’ve got a deal (and I’ve just been given a huge boot in the can. Thanks.)

            You may notice I make too many typos. It’s not just my fingers… my retinas are bad as well.

            I lost the copy I was working on when in the hospital, but this dust bin I call a brain recalls most of it.

            kenneth_john@yahoo.com

          4. Started my book over again. 6″ x 9″ format in Libre Office odt. 15 pages so far, shooting for 200.

            It always starts well, but never ends well. I get bogged down, then rewrite everything. So far I’ve resisted [most of] the temptation.

            I’m just going to bull through it because I’ve got this editor, see…

  9. Imagine… some young person living in an impoverished country on earth wins a bid at 6 cents for a hectare of land a hundred kilometers from the first mars town because nobody else really wants it. It’s officially recorded with a mars title company (there are at least two. Title searches work the same way they do on earth.)

    Later a valuable ore is found on that property in concentration. The martians can’t just take it. Strong property (including mineral rights) exist and defended by all. So they negotiate a contract. Perhaps $100 per year for mining rights for 20 years. This is a low enough cost that theft is deterred. Otherwise some local law enforcement will be required.

    That young person could then sell his property along with that contract for a very large profit with regard to his/her 6 cent investment. Wealth increases both on mars and earth.

    That person starts a company on earth with his newly acquired seed capital that become bigger than yahoo!

  10. I think NASA should explore to Moon to determine where one could mine lunar water, then NASA should explore Mars to determine where one could have a human settlement.

    NASA has sent number of spacecraft to places on the Moon, and none these spots seem like they would be places to mine lunar water.
    NASA has sent a number of spacecrafts to places on Mars, and again none of these spots seem like they would be place to live on Mars.

    So NASA [or any other entity] should find places on the Moon which one could profitably mine lunar water, and NASA should find places on Mars which would be good places to live on Mars.

    It seems one could roughly points to where one might mine water on the Moon. It’s a fairly small area and would be in either of polar regions of the Moon. And no one has send any lander to either of these area. And one details of needing capability to be in radio contact with Earth and other aspects relating to a specific area. The size of lunar site which might have minable lunar water, probably would fit into area of about 10 square km or less. Or it’s possible one mine less than 1 square km of the lunar surface for a period more than 10 years. Or one might mine a football field size area for say 5 years and then move operation 1/2 km to another location. It’s also possible that one could selectively mine a large area, still be rather limited in terms of being roughly keeping within a 10 square km area. And more or less, this size of an area is what most of mining of anything on Earth requires in terms of land area of mining operations.
    As far as some number, lunar water mining would probably mine less than 100,000 tons of water within a 10 year period. And water worth
    about 1/2 million per ton, or 500 million per 1000 tons. And with rocket fuel made being worth about 2 million per ton.
    And having 10 cm of water per square meter of land area, or 100 kg of water per square meter and over 1 km area [1 million square meter] is 100 million kg or 100,000 tons, is enough water. Converting a 1000 tons of water by splitting into H2 and O2 in one year period, requires a vast amount of infrastructure.
    Very roughly, 1000 tons of rocket fuel on the Moon per year, in terms of scale, is like having a hundred Saturn V launches per year. Or within the first year or two, you would doing quite well if mining 100 tons of water, and making 100 tons of rocket fuel per year. After 10 year of operation, it’s possible to be doing more than 1000 tons of rocket fuel per year. Or if you having such activity as Mars settlements, one quickly get up to more than 10,000 tons of water mined per year. But in the beginning, regardless of whether there were Mars settlements ocurring or not, one probably start off somewhere around 100 tons per year, it would mere be faster ramping up of production- doubling maybe tripling production every year if there was more of market for lunar water.
    One could consider lunar water mining in isolation from any other activity beyond the Moon, but future plans of expanding operation beyond the Moon and low lunar orbit. Getting it expanded to lunar orbit should a near term goal. Exporting to lunar low orbit, at least triples the market size, but require lower unit price of water [2 million per ton of rocket fuel and 1/2 million per ton of water is probably low enough].

    In terms of Mars, perhaps some place near equatorial region could be good site for a settlement, but one could certainly argue about other regions possibly being better location. One could even argue that one of Mars moons might be better location, but let’s assume it’s on the Mars surface. Musk is talking about 1 million people, but lets begin with say 100 people at some location- and a million people would probably be scattered all around Mars.
    In terms of land area, for population of 100 people, one could be looking a much large site as compare to the Moon. One need a source of water and area that made enough electrical power for these people.
    Now, one way to look at it, is one could produce water to attract people to a site. Though one could also look at it as one could produce electrical power, to attract people to a site.
    An advantage of producing water rather than electrical power, is that choosing electrical power, is not really too particular about any particular site selection. And if had water available it could useful in terms of electrical power generation [or could a selective factor related to where one might want to produce electrical power].
    There other factor other than source of water and place to somehow generate electrical power [roughly solar or nuclear- I would think], but I am going to focus on water- as example or as a way to simplify.
    First, modern human use a lot of water and modern human will want to use a lot of water. The humans using the least amount of water are those on the international space station and they use about 10 tons of water per year per crew. Or converting to gallons, about 3.8 kg per gallon, and 10,000 kg is about 2600 gallons of water, about same as most people use per month. Also if lunar water is 1/2 million dollar per ton, it’s 5 million dollar of water per year [certainly less money than amount spent to ship it to ISS].
    So would be Martian, could act like astronauts and use 10 tons of water for their trip to Mars, but would they/should they act like astronauts when on the Mars surface or are they going to use 10 times [or more] than this [like most humans].
    I am going to assume that would be Martians would like to use 100 tons [or more] of water per year per person. But could use less if the water costs to much- and obviously 1/2 million dollar per ton is costing way too much. Say it was $1000 per ton, so if 100 tons per year, it’s a water bill of $100,000 per year. And this translates to very conservative water usage, and at this price many would make the effort to use the least amount- so their usage might be 1/2 this amount per year, whereas other might be “forced” to use more due to what they do [job related, health related, etc] or they simply are richer and can afford to use more.
    So location where one get water at $1000 per ton, tend to be more favorable than a location where it is $10,000 per ton is sense of something one call urban living, but significantly lower price than $1000 per ton, may be more of necessity if one is doing something which requires lots of water [ie farming]. Or earthling pay more for water in cities, and farmers pay less for water, because they use a lot of it. And expect a similar thing on Mars.
    Anyways, American paid about $10 per ton of water- and it’s cheap. And poor people of Earth pay the most for water per gallon, because they have spend a lot of time/effort getting it and are using the least amount of water because it has a high cost. And not a good idea to having water being too expensive- it essentially increases poverty [and poor health]. Global poverty, would solved by having cheaper drinkable water and cheaper electrical cost [cheaper meaning available to buy at low costs].
    So a way look at Mars is it’s possible that one could have very cheap water [as cheap as Earth or cheaper] but I expect that in the beginning that Mars water will be expensive [same applies to the Moon].
    So a site selection on Mars is where can you get cheap water [and quantity of use is factor in this] at the time the first settlement is founded, and it’s future use of water, so amount the settlement may use as it grows in population and over a time period of 50 [or maybe 100] years into the future. Or this can make the site much bigger as compared to lunar sites.
    So, finally if it’s 10 square km on the Moon, than perhaps it’s 1000 square km on Mars. And how much water is there within this 1000 square km area? And roughly it should be billions of tonnes of cheap to extract water. Or billions vs 100,000 tonnes of minable water. And with Mars it would probably mean ground water- though glacial water could also have liquid ground water which can drilled for.

    1. One can always argue [understatement of the century.]

      NASA has sent a number of spacecrafts to places on Mars, and again none of these spots seem like they would be place to live on Mars.

      No place on mars is a place to live. Anyplace on mars can however become such. …and it does not depend a whit on NASA.

      There is no end to debate unless we simply end it. We only need general parameters to pick a place to start. We will never know an optimum place and never could no matter how much time we waste on it.

  11. It may also be time for us to become serious about identity (the multi-pass from 5th element.)

    That may be the first thing MDT does; issue multi-passes for a small fee to generate initial revenue. Those m’pass would be used for identity in title records.

  12. If Elon Musk can get the transportation cost to Mars at $500,000.00 or less, then why not send convicted murderers to Mars? The prison would be built about 400 miles from the nearest settlement. The prison would have no guards, and the inmates would have to grow all their food, and make almost everything that they need. Every two years about 4,000 convicts would be sent. The first inmates would be sent about 10 years after the first settlers arrive.

    NASA could purchase six seats every two years, for eight years at $500 million a seat. This would cost NASA $3 billion every two years. After the 5th mission, NASA would then renegotiate the price to $1 million for each seat, and purchase about 30 seats every two years. If we had settlements on Mars back in 1970, then we could have sent Charles Manson, and all his followers to Mars. The men to the northern hemisphere, and the women to the southern hemisphere . The men’s prison would be larger than the men’s prison.

  13. “If Elon Musk can get the transportation cost to Mars at $500,000.00 or less, then why not send convicted murderers to Mars? ”

    Don’t know about murderers..likely too emotionally unstable/dangerous. Perhaps some subset of younger offenders sentenced to 20yrs + who wish to voluntarily emigrate to become part of Mars’s labor force. After all it cost 30-40K a year to keep someone in jail in the US I have heard. Over 25 yrs that is ~900K life time cost. Even if it cost 500K to ship them to Mars, and even if Mars charges the sending earthside gov a stipend of say 200K per prisoner; 700K vs 900K + if they stay on earth. And of course they are out of your hair forever, they’re Mars problem then. Even with automation there are likely to be jobs requiring sheer manpower; when you start building road/bridges etc. They would have to be thoroughly vetted of course; very much a buyers market for Mars; literally charging earth to ease its prison overcrowding. Imagine a few well educated “political prisoner” types being shipped from some places as well; either die (or rot) in prison or a chance to (maybe) survive “free” on Mars.

    1. “Don’t know about murderers..likely too emotionally unstable/dangerous. Perhaps some subset of younger offenders sentenced to 20yrs + who wish to voluntarily emigrate to become part of Mars’s labor force. After all it cost 30-40K a year to keep someone in jail in the US I have heard. ”

      –MONTREAL — Each prisoner in Canada’s 54 federal penitentiaries costs taxpayers $117,788, up 46% from a decade ago, says a new report.– And:
      “Canada’s worst criminals are more expensive to house than other inmates, costing taxpayers up to $151,000 a year.”
      http://www.edmontonsun.com/2014/03/18/federal-inmate-cost-soars-to-177gs-each-per-year
      So convert money: 171 is $114.23 US dollars
      So I get the worst ones and get 114 K.
      And far as emotional unstable, I worry about non criminals, unless a worst criminal can fly a spaceship. But then again where could they go, and if landed, probably immediately shot as the easiest decision.

      One also get witness protection program type people, also. Plus great place to deport criminal aliens. Plus could use Mars instead of Gitmo:
      “At a cost of $2.8 million per prisoner per year, Guantánamo is the most expensive prison in the world. (The costliest prison in the U.S., the Colorado Supermax, at $78,000 per prisoner per year.)”
      https://newrepublic.com/article/119503/guantanamo-bay-costs-mindboggling-expenses-running-prison

    2. Those are the ones that we should send. They will have to learn to live together, or they will all die together. There would be no crew, or guards on the spacecraft. There would be all types of murderers. Gangs, mafia’s, skinheads, mass murderers, serial killers, and terrorist. The convicts would guard themselves, and would weed out anybody that will cause them trouble.
      The prison could be located at a site that has lots of gold. Some of the inmates would operate the mining machinery. The gold would be sent to a nearby settlement, and they would get containers filled with powdered iron, powdered aluminum, and containers filled with chemicals. The chemicals would be used for making medicine, soap, shampoo, or anything else they may need.

      Every inmate would need to work. If an inmate refuses to work, then the other inmates will make sure that he doesn’t eat. I didn’t think about other countries sending convicts to Mars. If they do, then Elon Musk will need to build more spaceships.

  14. Instapundit had this link, https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/the-2016-spacex-mars-colonization-plan-has-been-published-online.html

    It makes sense to load the spaceships into orbit because you have got 2 years to do so, and then you can make frequent use of the booster and the tanker to get really heavy reuse out of those.

    I guess I need to read the pdf because this presents some problems and opportunities to think about. It seems to me that the ship referenced contains a lot of mass that limits how many people can be launched at once. With a goal of sending the maximum people to Mars in a given time frame, you want a ship that lifts the maximum number of people to orbit, a ship(s) that transports the maximum number of people to Mars, and a ship that lands the maximum number of people on Mars’ surface. Each of these environments are different.

    Let’s say they have four launch vehicles, each one launches once a month for a year. That puts 5,200 people in orbit. They don’t need 52 space ships but something less than that. Building a launching craft to maximize passenger would mean even more people. And the Mars season is only every two years, that leaves plenty of opportunity to launch people who have ships waiting to take them to other destinations.

    Musk has the launching/landing technology. He needs someone to do the in-space transport.

    There is also scheduling to ponder. Some people are going to be launched sooner and some later, meaning some people will have to hang out before actually leaving for Mars. How will this affect pricing? I can imagine a case being made for cheaper prices if you launch then wait and more expensive prices for those who stay on Earth closer to when the departure season starts. But there are added costs and benefits even if you launch earlier so maybe the price wouldn’t be that different.

    1. But I guess since Musk wants these things to land and launch on Mars, he needs to get them there first. Maybe this is his way to bootstrap the placement of infrastructure before settlement begins in earnest.

  15. Making the settlers pay their own way also serves, frankly, as a pretty good mechanism for filtering out the riff-raff.

    Food for thought. It certainly would be a filter, but not just for riif-raff (which reminds me of the unofficial motto of N. Dakota… “40 below keeps out the riff-raff!”)

    It would also filter for age since it would take time to accumulate the costs. It would filter out possible entrepreneurs that would be wage slaves on earth, but because of the tremendous diverse opportunities in a frontier environment, might become an essential part of the community. To be fair, you were focusing on starting conditions, but that may be exactly when they need young risk takers (everybody would be risk takers of course, but the young have the advantage of not knowing what they don’t know which could be very useful in such a new environment.)

    Sending criminals to mars sounds like sending garbage into the sun, While it may sound good for a moment, it falls completely apart with the least bit of analysis.

    1. Not having to pay for a ticket would mean people have more money to spend on their habitat, equipment, and other things needed to survive on Mars. It could be beneficial to arrange for free rides provided the people getting them also have the means, either their own or a sponsor’s, to actually set up a life on Mars.

      1. Not having to pay for a ticket also means what you said even more emphatically. The ticket will include some amount of personal property mass. Meaning their starting assets includes the value of transporting that mass to mars assuming it’s chosen to be something they can’t get on mars directly.

        That personal starting value is worth more the more it costs to get them to mars! It could provide a tremendous start for each and every one.

    2. “Sending criminals to mars sounds like sending garbage into the sun, While it may sound good for a moment, it falls completely apart with the least bit of analysis.”

      Select prisoners sent to mars Ken… a few thousands to perhaps low 10’s of thousand imported for particularly hazardous work that can’t be entirely automated for whatever reason culled from millions of prisoners back on earth. Working for long periods on the martian surface exposed to all kinds of hazards (like dust storms/radiation etc.); kind of work highly educated high IQ types might not want to do. And if the earthside gov pay for their passage plus a stipend; just might offset any difficulty mars has with dealing with them. The “defective” ones who slipped through the vetting process probably eliminated by the environment. Yes I know sounds like Robert Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”; but I am a fan of his so what can I say.

      1. But why prisoners? That is introducing a known criminal element to your new society. Sure, it may turn out like Australia but why take the risk?

        Given the opportunity, there are many non-criminals that would jump at the chance of going to Mars. Much as with being an astronaut, many people other than eggheads can do the work. And surely there are some high IQ people who would accept the risks of hiking on Mars.

        1. “But why prisoners? That is introducing a known criminal element to your new society. Sure, it may turn out like Australia but why take the risk?”

          I suppose the “prisoner” idea comes from as I said Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” where the bulk of the population on the moon (approx. 3 million I believe) came from the prisoner population exiled there. As to why you might consider prisoner labor on mars consider that if the work in question is extremely hazardous (exposed to cosmic rays/solar flares/killer dust storms) on the surface for long periods of time it might simply fall to prisoners or other assorted hard luck cases willing to chance it. A subset of them strictly culled/ vetted. Or maybe I just think it makes a colorful story that probably won’t happen but who can say?

      2. You’re asking criminals to do the work of machines? There is no requirement that any work be particularly hazardous. Your mind has been brainwashed by the wrong SF.

        Sending a person to mars because they are a criminal is not a solution to any problem.

      3. Working for long periods on the martian surface exposed to all kinds of hazards

        That job will never exist on mars because there is absolutely no reason for it. If they can’t figure out a better alternative, they don’t belong on mars. Living on mars is not for the stupid.

  16. Pennies per hectare might not do it, but dollars per hectare…

    Exactly right Ed. Last time I figured about 1000 km^2 per ticket which gives an aprox. floor for the bid price. $100 per hectare, which investors could resell as 2000 sq. meter plots (about a half acre) for immediate profit (perhaps not immediate in most cases.) $100 x 100 hct. x 1000 km^2 = $10m available per ticket which is not what we will pay. You’ve got 2 intersecting curves. Property value going up with development and ticket price going down with competition. I think this could fully pay for the first million colonists. $20 per plot, BTW, gets into novelty purchase territory making sales just a promotional effort.

    So looking at it statically, rather than dynamically as we should…

    Assume ticket price to go from $200m to $200k over time. The MDT will only pay a maximum of $5m per ticket, but lower as competition allows. So at first, we’re only looking at a ticket subsidy. Once actual ticket reaches $5m, hopefully there would be more than one vendor making offers. From that point on, land sales become more efficient with less than 1000 km^2 required to be sold for each ticket.

    Keep in mind it’s an auction with a $100 minimum. W will not run out of land to sell until mars is very well developed and many people will then be able to afford the ticket price on their own.

  17. Bank of Mars idea may be that missing piece of the puzzle

    Does anybody have connections with a community bank where they could propose the idea of a Mars Development Trust?

    With larger banks the management isn’t at the branch. It would have to be a private bank that had avoided acquisition from the big boys.

    1. “With larger banks the management isn’t at the branch. It would have to be a private bank that had avoided acquisition from the big boys.”

      The key to my “Bank of Mars” idea is that it is run by the mars colonists themselves; this is critical otherwise the people running the “bank” would be susceptible to any laws/regs/taxes earth governments see fit. The Mars colonists who have renounced their citizenships from whatever country they are from are then independent sovereign entities accountable to no one. You “donate” to the bank of mars you are issued shares let say. The no. of shares and their price changes based on how well the investments made by said bank run by the colonists are doing. You can withdraw your “donations” (or interest from such) when you want with absolute confidentiality; no earth gov has access to the bank of mars’ records the owners are on Mars beyond their reach. No one on earth would know whether you are withdrawing “interest” earned tax free or merely withdrawing in part your “donation”. Any earth side “Mars Development Trust” and its earthside owners would be under the thumb of whatever countries’ government it is based in.

      1. Banks on either planet are likely to interact to get some things done.

        A bank in principle is very simple. You deposit your gold and I’ll give you an ATM card to buy stuff. Any loan is new money. It doesn’t actually need anything on deposit to insure it.

        Any bank that makes loans is subject to runs (fractional or not.)

        I would like to see at least two of every type of institution on mars. …and very low barriers to entry.

        1. “Banks on either planet are likely to interact to get some things done. A bank in principle is very simple. You deposit your gold and I’ll give you an ATM card to buy stuff.”

          Try this on for size Ken…my “bank of mars” idea happens owned/operated by the independent Mars colonists themselves. Later on Asteroid mining takes off. You make your big strike in the belt; you are bringing in your mined gold/platinum to market. On earth platinum is worth $2100/oz.; great, but half goes to taxes. The bank of mars pays only $1500/oz., but tax free. They (the bank) eats the cost of shipping back to earth to some kind of “branch” and they get the aforementioned $2100/oz. profit minus shipping and what they paid the miners. The miner gets $1500/oz. tax free vs 2100*.50(taxes) = $1050/oz. he would have gotten back on earth. Furthermore deposited in the bank of mars his profit is earning say 4% a year also tax free. He (the miner) wouldn’t even have to stay on Mars; he could emigrate back to earth and setup residence probably anywhere his millionaire ass wanted to; no gov would be the wiser how much dough he had on Mars earning interest to use as needed for his comfortable upkeep.

          1. As a general principle Tim, I believe mars will open up huge financial opportunities we can’t even imagine yet. The earth today is in such a rut they can’t even look at our own history and see possibilities that were once realities.

            People like Musk should be the rule, not the exception.

            People latch on to ideas (“how to make a pencil”) that are both true and a complete distortion of truth.

            Evidence is abundant but people ignore it. Haven’t any city folk spent any time in the country?

            Speaking of prisoners… they display great creativity. Why? Answer that and you may understand the upside potential of mars a bit better.

  18. “What would they be doing there that would be worth the expense of sending them?”

    Oh, I don’t know…maybe Musk’s ambitions for mars prove right; once the colonies reach the point of rapid growth; heavy construction on the surface for instance. Road, bridges, tunnels to connect pipelined water in insulated pipes buried underground to transport to the various colonies. Anything that can’t be completely automated that still requires hands on work (even hands operating machinery) on the surface under very hazardous conditions. Terraforming work when they set up the factories to pump out super-greenhouse gases like Nitrogen Trifluoride (to get the CO2 to outgas) & thicken the atmosphere. Dull monotonous dangerous work that is hard to find folks inclined to want to do. Especially if earth side gov are willing to pay their (the prisoners’) transportation cost (maybe even with a stipend to sweeten the deal) just to be rid of them. Easing prison overcrowding or some other political reason why they want them gone who knows?

    1. And that benefits the society that sent them there how…?

      Unless it costs less to send them there than imprison them (as it did with England and Australians) it makes no economics sense.

      1. “And that benefits the society that sent them there how…?

        ” Easing prison overcrowding or some other political reason why they want them gone who knows?”

        “Unless it costs less to send them there than imprison them (as it did with England and Australians) it makes no economics sense.”

        “Elon Musk has said that he can get the transportation cost to $200,000.00 per person.
        Now suppose a 22 year old man, were to rape, and murder an 8 year old girl. What should be done to that man? Well I say execute him. But it cost $1 million, or more to do an execution. It also takes several years.
        If we locked him up for life, then he might live for another 50 years. At $40,000.00 a year, that would come to $2 million. So if the price is low enough, then send him, and every single young murderer to Mars.”

        So yes, Rand…the cost savings angle for keeping the person in jail for 50 years (or executing them) vs a one-time only cost of 200K-500K including stipend; the benefit to the sender is the cost savings and simply being rid of them. Still don’t know about murderers though; too unstable I imagine. And in the stated hypothetical case of the one who killed an 8-year-old girl; can’t imagine someone like that getting through the vetting process if for no other reason than the perceived likely possibility the other prisoners would off him the 1st chance they got. I was thinking more along the line of America’s three strike and you’re out laws; someone young guy caught that 3rd time on a non-violent drug offense maybe; sentenced to 20 years to life that kind of thing.

        1. I think that most people sent to Australia were prisoners in debtors’ prison. Those would be reasonable colonists, looking for a fresh start. Violent criminals? Not so much.

        2. I think that most of the people shipped to Georgia and Australia weren’t hardened criminals, but mostly petty thieves, prostitutes and debtors. Not generally the sort (particularly the latter) who are going to spend a lot of time in prison.

          1. The prison would be based on a penal colony in Australia, or Georgia, but instead on Alcatraz, or Devil’s Island. There would be no women in the prison, so there won’t be any families. There also wouldn’t be any guards. The nearest settlement would be about 650 kilometers, or ever further. Mars has a thin atmosphere, and is very cold. So cold, that Antarctica would be considered tropical. I say locate the prison near Mars north pole. There would need to be a resource that can be mined, and sent to the nearest settlement. Unmanned tractor trailers would be used to deliver supplies, and pick up any valuable resource that is being mined.

            Travel time from the prison, to the settlement would be about 10 hours. None of the trucks would have a pressurized cab.
            This would be a life sentence. Once a murder is sent there, he will not be able to leave. If an innocent were sent, then he would be allowed to leave. In that case, a pressurized vehicle would be sent to pick him up.

            The spacesuits would be made to hold no more than four hours of oxygen.

            Right now, we have two options. Executions, or life in prison. Both are costly. And I don’t think that murderers should be released. But if there is a third option, and that option is cheaper than the other two, then I think we should try the third option.

            On Mars, guards won’t be needed. You have the cold, and distance that would stop any prisoner from escaping. Spy satellites could be put in Mars orbit. These could be used in search, and rescue. If a manned spacecraft crashes on Mars, then the spy satellites would be able to locate any wreckage, survivors, or bodies.

            It would also spot anybody that tried to escape from the prison.

  19. “Anything that can’t be completely automated that still requires hands on work (even hands operating machinery)”+

    For whatever this is worth:

    “Alphabet’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt cited a study by McKinsey released at the Viva Tech conference in Paris on Thursday, which suggested 90 percent of jobs are not fully automatable. The Alphabet chairman said that while some of the routine of a job could be replaced, much of what a human does cannot.”

    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/the-future-of-work-is-you-with-a-computer-not-you-replaced-by-a-computer.html

  20. Ok, I don’t think a single prisoner should be sent, unless it cost a half a million dollars, or less. Elon Musk has said that he can get the transportation cost to $200,000.00 per person.
    Now suppose a 22 year old man, were to rape, and murder an 8 year old girl. What should be done to that man? Well I say execute him. But it cost $1 million, or more to do an execution. It also takes several years.

    If we locked him up for life, then he might live for another 50 years. At $40,000.00 a year, that would come to $2 million. So if the price is low enough, then send him, and every single young murderer to Mars. Not the Moon, but Mars. The Moon is too close. None of the prisoners would be sent to a settlement on Mars, or near a settlement. The prison will need to be near a location that has a valuable resource, like gold, platinum, or uranium.

    That resource will be mined, and sent to the nearest settlement, and the settlement will send raw resources that the prison will need. The prison will have lots of 3-D printers. So every think that is eaten, worn, or used would be made at the prison. The only exceptions would be spacesuits, and electronics.

    Like Rand, I don’t see much use in Mars. The Moon yes. The best place to settle would be L4,L5, the Moon, and the asteroids.
    But I am glad that Musk has plans to settle Mars, and I hope that he is successful.

    1. Or maybe I just think it makes a colorful story that probably won’t happen but who can say?

      OK, here is the story prompt:

      A Mars penal colony is taken over by a ruthless gang. They use the expertise developed maintaining their mining equipment, growing food, and manufacturing with 3D printers to turn the resources they are supposed to send to Muskville against the very settlement they are supposed to supply.

      Muskville is a sleepy little settlement bustling with activity but otherwise very boring. The police force does little more than write parking tickets, but when a convoy from the penal colony arrives for their regularly scheduled delivery, they are the only hope for the Muskites.

      1. “A Mars penal colony is taken over by a ruthless gang. They use the expertise developed maintaining their mining equipment, growing food, and manufacturing with 3D printers to turn the resources they are supposed to send to Muskville against the very settlement they are supposed to supply.”

        I like it….someone should right the story! For those of you who think their would be no practical reason to import prison labor…remember Mars is a very hazardous environment there are bound to be situations where folks are just going to be exposed to extreme risks automation/robotics or not. It may also simply prove politically popular among the colonists to have a population of people they don’t mind as much (callous thought that sounds) placing into riskier situation (like mining for instance); and after all they volunteered. Mars will have its share of emotion driven politics just like people on earth do survivor situation or not; people are still people. There is also another reason…greed. If Musk gets the cost down well below 500K/person then the shipper could easily pay for it plus as I have suggested a stipend; say 200K per prisoner (still much less than the 2 million lifetime cost per prisoner quoted above). Fifty thousand prisoners shipped over time at 200K per prisoner equals 10 billion dollars profit for Mars just receiving them. And of course they would put them to work.

        1. Mars is a very hazardous environment

          Mars has clearly defined hazards that are easily mitigated with just one exception: gravity. Which I strongly suspect will prove more beneficial than not.

          Being at high altitude is hazardous, but humans do it regularly without giving it a thought. It will be exactly the same on mars.

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