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World & Current Events > How would a future space colony be ruled?

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message 1: by Michel (last edited May 16, 2018 09:38PM) (new)

Michel Poulin Another group discussion thread about 'Was the USSR communist?' raised many interesting points about what was true communism and what it implied. The consensus was that the USSR was a socialist country rather than a true communist one, with possibly North Korea the only country today that could qualify.

Now, I was researching and imagining how Mars could be explored and colonized in the coming decades and a realization jumped into my face: while being built and during its first few decades of expansion until it could become self-sufficient from Earth, that colony would basically have to be run on a communist fashion, like in old Israeli Kibbutz. With all the resources available at first coming from Earth at tremendous cost, such a colony could not possibly run on a capitalist model, with colonists shopping for food, clothes and other personal items in for-profit shops. Every resource available then would be too precious to risk being wasted on purely personal whims and would have to be strictly controlled and managed to get the most out of it. That would include food, water, air and other things that would be sparse or non-existent on Mars.

I thus tried to imagine how such a Mars colony would be run and realized that a central administration would have to manage and allocate everything according to priority needs. One aspect of that would be about how colonists were fed. Having individuals and families make their own cooking in their quarters/homes would obviously be a lot less efficient that running a communal kitchen similar to a military cafeteria and would result in a lot of wasted food, plus would entail wasting a lot of space and electrical energy into building and running hundreds and thousands of small kitchens. Another aspect is about employment. A fledging Mars colony would obviously not be able to tolerate that parts of its citizens would be either unemployed or a deadweight, as resources would be too precious to waste them on people who would not contribute to the successful growth of the colony. Whether the colonists would like it or not, there would be no other way but to have all the resources and services centrally-run for the maximum benefits to the whole colony, something that sounds a lot like a communist community.

Now, forgetting the negative stigma often put on anything 'communist', what do you think about the possible system of management of future space colonies on Mars and in other places in the Solar System?


message 2: by Matthew (last edited May 16, 2018 10:10PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Now THIS is a thread I can get excited about! Not that other threads on here have not been exciting, it's just that this one combines two loves - sociopolitical discussions and space! As for your thoughts on this, I think that it would not be farfetched at all to assume that a Martian colony would be run in a way that could be described as "communist". That is to say, I think it would be run by consensus and direct democracy.

In this respect, it would not be unlike the Kibbutz societies of early Israel. And I think this system would endure until the colonies expanded to have populations in the hundreds of thousands or millions (should that ever happen). And it would not be because of ideological problems, but simply because such a communal system is only really sustainable in small communities. From that point onward, it would require a representative government, with all the corruption and complaints this entails.

However, I think that would change drastically if and when Mars became a highly-advanced society with plentiful access to wireless technology and their own version of the Internet of Things. At that point, even with a population of millions, it could once again be run via direct democracy and consensus (aka. democratic anarchy). And it would be interesting to see how this affected relations with Earth, which would surely be run in a similar fashion at this point.

Just a thought though...


message 3: by Graeme (last edited May 17, 2018 08:31PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Experiences with Earth based colonization would indicate the following.

Potentially off-topic dark humor follows. (view spoiler)


message 4: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Here's a question, would the first colonists all be volunteers, or would some or all be drafted?

Will the colony be state or privately funded, or a mix of both, i.e. a Public Private Partnership?


message 5: by Graeme (last edited May 16, 2018 11:51PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan What would be the primary purpose of the colony?

Is it an economic one (gateway to the asteroids...), or something else?

I ask this, because I think the purpose of the colony will shape the organization and operational culture.


message 6: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Would you go with ready built families? or only with young people?


message 7: by Michel (last edited May 17, 2018 06:10AM) (new)

Michel Poulin My thought process on how to colonize Mars starts with the first human crew sent to explore Mars. Here are some of my opinions on it:
- The project to explore and colonize Mars would be an extremely expensive, complicated and long-winded process that would need many decades, maybe centuries before a Mars colony could be declared self-sufficient. No private corporation or single country could afford it, even the USA. Thus, I would see a multinational/international partnership group acting under United Nations sanction and human rights regulations. Such a group would ideally join up all the countries that have presently a significant space program (USA, Russia, China, India, Japan, Canada, EU).
- The motivation to launch such a huge and expensive long-term program could come from the desire to ensure that a 'Plan B' exists if Earth ever starts to become unlivable (droughts, floods, rising seas, rising temperatures) via climate change brought on by human-produced pollution.
- The first explorers and colonists would be specially chosen and trained astronauts, scientists and technicians, the way NASA selects and train the men and women it is sending up to the International Space Station. A fledging Mars colony, working hard just to survive, is no place for a simple, untrained schmuck.
- Such a project is no place for half-measures and restricted budgets. The ships to be used will have to be big enough and fast enough to carry plenty of people and equipment to Mars in complete safety and comfort (strong anti-radiation protection, rotating carousels for artificial gravity). I personally consider the actual NASA Mars project, which plans to use recycled Orion and Saturn V technology to be a pitiful joke that will end in the loss or life incapacitation of the first crew to be sent to Mars. That NASA project also will do next to nothing about starting to build a permanent Mars base. That NASA Mars project is little more than a showboat operation meant to bring 'prestige' to the USA. Ironically, all the technology we really needs for a viable long-term Mars project already exists, some of it being available since the 1970s! I am talking here about the American NERVA nuclear rocket program and the Russian VASIMR magneto-plasma engine.
- The first task of the initial exploration crew would be to find and select a suitable location for their permanent base on Mars. That would mean finding a plentiful source of water for the base (possibly an underground water aquifer connected to an old lava tube). Choosing a location that provides good protection against radiations would be another important point.
- While not being a military team per say, any exploration/base building crew and early colonists would have to obey a clear chain of command associated with open and free discussions among the members of the team. No electoral democracy but also no local dictator, with competence and foresight being the most critical qualities of the leaders of the colony.
- In the first decades of the colony on Mars, taking care of providing safety, food, water, air and shelter to the colonists while building and expanding their base(s) will be the primordial task of the colony leaders. There would be no time then for wild capitalism, wastage of resource or hoarding/excessive use of precious resources by free-loading or domineering individuals. That is why I believe such an early Mars colony would be a quasi communist community resembling early Israeli Kibbutz.

The floor is now yours, my friends. Fire away!


message 8: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16088 comments Enjoy reading your speculations, guys -:) Fun and with relatively soon applicability..

I believe (to a degree like Michel) the colonization will be run as a military expedition.. Authoritarian - yes, as any army, communist - only as a matter of necessity not ideology, but it will have similarities.
Any expedition will have a certain percent of profiteers, so like Graeme I believe it may turn nasty (hope not for long) at some stage


message 9: by Graeme (last edited May 17, 2018 03:07PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan The trouble with a long expensive process is that sooner or later, a political movement will arise and demand the "Money be spent on Earth."

Look at how transient interest was in the Apollo program once the moon was reached.

There needs to be a dominant and long standing rational for colonizing, or it needs to start making revenue asap, or it will be abandoned.


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11806 comments I am biased, having written a novel on this topic ("Red Gold"). So, in that, why? First there had been human exploration before and there was a scientific base at Chryse Planitia where scientists, etc, carried out two-year deployments.

Cost - here I was in agreement with Michel - the cost of settlement was borne by a Federation that included all the countries on Earth except Sth America and Africa (The Federation was for plot reasons in a later novel.). The expedition comprised two ships, each fusion powered, attached by struts to a ring that was part of a large disk. The outer part of the disk spun one way to generate artificial gravity, while inside the stationary ring the mass spun the other way so the total angular momentum was zero. The disk of one transferred the settlers to the other temporarily while it tried to land, and towards the end, the motor detached and later landed and acted as a fusion power generator and/or an elements separator. In light of Michel's comment, the motors worked by taking the thermonuclear plasma and accelerating it and using magnetohydrodynamics to direct it out the back and get thrust. On Mars, the motor was altred so it became an elements separator.

The reasons for going were similar to what Michel suggested, except that on Earth, for various reasons resources had to be rationed, it was drifting into a new type of economy that I was inventing, and Mars was for the people who wanted to be a bit more adventurous and less restricted. The Expedition was controlled by the Space Corps, effectively military, but no guns were taken (apart from some smuggled by a settler, but that is plot, not plan.) The Space Corps were responsible for getting the fusion plants going, making raw materials, and offering the basics for survival. If you wanted more than the basics, you had to trade, or work, so it was designed to be private enterprise, but with the Space Corps providing the very basics and large-scale infrastructure that would be beyond individuals.

The settlers were not specially trained, but training was available and the settler needed to provide certificates of competence to do anything outside the basic infrastructure, including going outside. The reasoning was, The objective was for the settlers to do what they wanted, and they had to be specialised. It was better to have a very skilled surgeon who could only do very limited things outside than to have someone with all the exploratory skills, and maybe could use a scalpel. Essentially, the opposite of what Graeme wanted.

Protection against solar wind was done magnetically at the Mars-sun L1 position - I announced that option about 5 yrs in front of NASA :-) The landing site was the bottom of Hellas Planitia, because there was more air pressure there, it is believed there was a sea there, so there should be buried ice, and also it was far enough away from the equator that a big space mirror could add light and heat. Mobile power was by fuel cells, using a hypothetical (at the time) aluminium - chlorine cell. Since then, someone has shown such cell can work.

The rules of governance was that the settlers should choose their own form of governance, once they got going. They would have to vote for whatever they chose.

As for what happened - one of the settlers went there with the purpose of setting up a stock market fraud back on Earth, promoting promising new ventures on Mars. The story needed something of a plot, and of course he was the one with the guns.

At a personal level, the story was viewed by an editor of a major publisher about 1992, but the editor died, and the replacement, wanting to clear the desk regarded the story as "absurd". There were really only three things that could be absurd. The first was humans would go to Mars. Hardly outrageous for SF. The second was that one of the settlers would try to run a fraud. You can judge that. The third was the speculative science that exposed the fraud. I thought about that, and I think that it will be found, but it led me to my theory of how planets form.


message 11: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I believe that space colonization will be done as a necessity for long-term survival, as the Earth's resources are depleted and our planet get more and more polluted. I don't believe that it will be done for economical purposes, except maybe to be able to exploit some resources that are drying up on Earth (rare earth elements for example).

As for a political movement arising to demand that 'money be spent on Earth', I fully expect that to happen, but I hope that our leaders will then be able to think further than their noses (cross fingers, contain laughter).


message 12: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin On one aspect of managing a future Mars colony: procreation among the colonists.
- The point of a colony is to grow and to eventually become self-sufficient. That won't happen if you keep your population low (in the hundreds or low thousands). You will have to permit couples to form and children to be born, preferably on Mars, but birth rates would then have to be carefully monitored, so that the limited resources of the colony are not overtaxed.
- Raising and educating children on Mars would ensure that new citizens of the colony be completely familiar with the various aspects of living on Mars and would further bond the colonists as a society.
-Finally, you can't expect young, healthy men and women to work for months and years on Mars in difficult conditions and not see sexual or romantic relationships appear. The trick will be to keep the birthrate to a moderate, sustainable level.


message 13: by Matthew (last edited May 17, 2018 04:15PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Experiences with Earth based colonization would indicate the following.

[1] The rulers of the colony will have access to the best food, whisky, wine, rum, and women (who will be in short supply).
..."


What examples of colonies are you drawing this from? Because given that the first colonists on Mars are likely to be a combination of researchers and exploration enthusiasts (consider the people volunteering to become part of Musk's journey or MarsOne) the idea of a military autocracy doesn't seem to have any basis.

Also, to Nik and Michel, what is the basis of saying that the colonization of Mars will be a military affair? There's no reason to assume there will be any military presence on Mars since the militarization of space is a long way off.


message 14: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Matthew wrote: "What examples of colonies are you drawing this from? ..."

Australia, and to some extent US - examples are somewhat in jest.


message 15: by Matthew (last edited May 17, 2018 04:37PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Matthew wrote: "What examples of colonies are you drawing this from? ..."

Australia, and to some extent US - examples are somewhat in jest."


I get that, but I fail to see how the points (even if they are meant to be a bit comical) would play out. For instance, when and how were the American colonies administered by "a military class serving the rulers with an iron fist?" The American colonies were land grants given to "free Englishmen" who paid little to no taxes and were governed by English common law. Australia, sure, but it was a penal colony. No one is going to be sending convicts to Mars when its so much cheaper to keep them here.

Also, why would slaves or indentured workers be imported when there's not even an economic incentive to exploit Mars? It's too far away to import raw materials and food, unless you've got a warp drive up your sleeve. If anything, people will need to be enticed with promises of free land and adventure.


message 16: by Graeme (last edited May 17, 2018 04:56PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Google searches.

"Woodstock Generation" - About 3,330,000 results (0.49 seconds)

"Apollo Moon Landing" - About 302,000 results (0.67 seconds)

"Apollo Moon Landing Generation" - About 571,000 results (0.57 seconds)

Two events occurred in 1969. One was the Moon Landing, and the other was a Music Festival.

How often have you heard reference to "The Woodstock Generation," like it really means "everything?"

I have never heard a media reference to the "Apollo Moon Landing Generation."

Does a culture that values a music festival over space exploration have any hope of achieving a Mars colony?

2019 will be the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, in that time, the US has no self-sustaining, self funding human presence in space.

Any US attempt to really set up a colony on Mars must first defeat the entrenched culture within the US Elites that space exploration, and especially human space exploration is at best a public relations stunt (with valuable military tech spin-offs), and at worst a waste of time and money.

NOTE: I am a strong advocate for human based space exploration, I think it's a clear economic winner. The Apollo program created the computer industry, and had a bunch of other impacts returning $7 for every $1 spent on it. As a species, we must get off this planet to avoid the risk of extinction.

I think there is a significant chance that the first language spoken on Mars will be Chinese or Indian, and the organisation will be government-corporate partnership with clear economic goals to establish pathways to the resources of the rest of the solar system.


message 17: by Matthew (last edited May 17, 2018 04:46PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Google searches.

"Woodstock Generation" - About 3,330,000 results (0.49 seconds)

"Apollo Moon Landing" - About 302,000 results (0.67 seconds)

"Apollo Moon Landing Generation" - About 571,000 r..."


Seriously. You're basing our hopes for establishing a colony on Mars on google searches? And people calling themselves the "Woodstock Generation" is hardly a measure of a culture's values. Far more people watched the Moon Landing then attended that music festival. And if you ask what the Baby Boomer generation remembers most about their time (that's what most of them call themselves, btw), Apollo 11 ranks much higher than Woodstock.

Second, in the fifty years since the Apollo landing, the US, Russia and the ESA have been working on developing the technologies for sustained human presence in space and reusable spacecraft. That is why we have the ISS, why we had Mir, why we're currently working towards the Deep Space Gateway, why SpaceX has reusable rockets and why NASA is building reusable space planes. If and when we have the means to colonize Mars, it will be because of the work that has taken place in the last 50 years (and the next 50).

China and India will definitely be major participants in any future endeavors, but they have yet to put a single astronaut on the Moon. While they will be mounting their first crewed mission to the Moon, NASA will be sending missions to Mars. China, India and Russia are not even planning on getting there until the 2040s to 2060s.

And even when a colony is established, we'll need to build extensive infrastructure between Earth and Mars and come up with much faster ships in order for us to even be thinking about economic goals and pathways to the rest of the Solar System. The distances alone are staggering, and the cost of extracting resources from asteroids or other bodies is still so much higher than doing it here on Earth that there would be no reason for it.


message 18: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "- The motivation to launch such a huge and expensive long-term program could come from the desire to ensure that a 'Plan B' exists if Earth ever starts to become unlivable (droughts, floods, rising seas, rising temperatures) via climate change brought on by human-produced pollution. ..."

This is an "Adaption," policy, rather than a "Mitigation," policy position - you will have to convince current Environmentalist leadership & rank and file who will view any talk of Adaption via a Mars colony as equivalent to Abandonment, of Mother Earth, and the rest of Humanity.


message 19: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Michel wrote: "- The motivation to launch such a huge and expensive long-term program could come from the desire to ensure that a 'Plan B' exists if Earth ever starts to become unlivable (droughts,..."

Funny, because I have yet to hear any environmentalist object to the idea of colonizing Mars as a "backup location" for humanity. It's all Musk talks about when given half a chance, and it's something Stephen Hawking stated many times over. Not once did I hear any "green" advocates claim that this was abandonment. If anything, they agreed with him.


message 20: by Graeme (last edited May 17, 2018 09:35PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Matthew, there are some high profile advocates who are outside the UN/Government/NGO leadership groups, but actions speak louder, the policy thrust is solidly towards mitigation.

Just noting that neither Hawking (dead) nor Musk are formulating Environmental policy.

It's the policy makers that matter.


message 21: by Michel (last edited May 17, 2018 05:18PM) (new)

Michel Poulin Matthew wrote: "Also, to Nik and Michel, what is the basis of saying that the colonization of Mars will be a military affair? ..."

Matthew, I never said that the exploration and colonization of Mars will be a military affair. This is what I said:
'While not being a military team per say, any exploration/base building crew and early colonists would have to obey a clear chain of command associated with open and free discussions among the members of the team. No electoral democracy but also no local dictator, with competence, team spirit and foresight being the most critical qualities of the leaders of the colony.'

I would compare the leadership and management of such an early Mars colony to what you find today in Antarctic scientific research bases. I would also add that, in my opinion, all firearms should be banned forever from being brought on Mars or being manufactured there. Whenever the colony would become large enough to justify some sort of public security force, then it should be armed only with non-lethal weapons (tasers, riot-control munitions).


message 22: by Graeme (last edited May 17, 2018 05:07PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Getting back on track with the thread.

My view is that the organisation will be authoritarian. The goals will be driven by economic and/or military competition between Countries/Corporations/Oligarchs and this competitive framework will dictate the other aspects informing the establishment and operation of a Mars colony.

It could easily occur that the colony is established as part of a militarization of space, as that would be sufficient to marshal the necessary resources to the task.

OR,

The Chinese, operating of a 100 year plan decide that mastery of Mars is a strategic goal for them and they start the process of colonization.


message 23: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I would disagree with Graeme about Chinese or Indian being the first common language spoken on Mars. Internationally, the language of business, science and air traffic control is English, and I expect that English will also be the common language on Mars.

On that, I wish to say that I would expect a Mars colony not to belong to any one nation, but to be managed and supported by a multi-national group of nations who already run a space program today. International law states that no country can claim ownership of parts or entirety of space bodies (asteroids, moons, planets, comets). A Mars colony would thus be an international settlement, with the United Nations being the guarantor of human rights in the colony.


message 24: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "I would compare the leadership and management to such an early Mars colony to what you find today in Antarctic scientific research bases...."

That would be nice. One can hope.


message 25: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "Internationally, the language of business, science and air traffic control is English, and I expect that English will also be the common language on Mars. ..."

That's a good point.


message 26: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "A Mars colony would thus be an international settlement, with the United Nations being the guarantor of human rights in the colony. ..."

I think you are being very hopeful. So it will be white helmets on the ground not green ones?

Also, IMHO, western dominated globalization has already peaked. The geopolitical frameworks are being undermined, and co-opted by other strategic players, and are shifting to new configurations. Expectations that the future even 10, 20 or 30 years from now will look like the recent past are hopeful.

Within 20 years, the Chinese economy will exceed the US, and the capabilities of their military and information warfare systems will be equivalent. I doubt that submission to an Anglo/European dominated UN is high on the agenda of Chinese rulers.

Within 20 years, the $US dollar hegemony as the worlds reserve currency is likely over, with major repercussions for the US economy and capacity to project military force.

Simple extrapolation of current institutions forward is likely to give a false expectation of the future being similar to the past.


message 27: by Michel (last edited May 17, 2018 05:40PM) (new)

Michel Poulin Graeme wrote: "Getting back on track with the thread. My view is that the organisation will be authoritarian. The goals will be driven by economic and/or military competition between Countries/Corporations/Oliga..."

Graeme, I believe that you are being way too negative about this and keep looking mostly at the possible dark sides. If a Mars colonization project is ever launched by a multinational group, then there is no reason to think that this group will be an authoritarian one or that it will have military goals. If some member nation of the group would try to put a military or authoritarian streak on the project, the other member nations will quickly push back. The point of the project would be about insuring the long-term survival of Humanity, not the exportation of our wars to Mars.


message 28: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "If a Mars colonization project is ever launched by a multinational group..."

Let's assume that as a starting point. A genuine international collaborative effort. In this case, I still think there will be strict operational rules, like ones for operating complex equipment in a dangerous environment.

The staff will be competitively selected, and matched for psychological compatibility, resilience, etc. Teams would be established to ensure complementary skill sets, with backups within the team for critical skill sets.

I would expect possible rotations Earth side/Mars side with teams coming and going for 3 to 5 year stints.


message 29: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin You actually have a very good example of a genuine international collaborative effort that is going well despite all the geo-political animosity that we presently have: the International Space Station. The relations between USA and Russia are presently at near freezing point, yet Russia still accepts to fly American astronauts to the ISS, and this without blackmailing the Americans about it. If there is one domain where international cooperation is still working and is free of military interference, it is space exploration.


message 30: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "You actually have a very good example of a genuine international collaborative effort that is going well despite all the geo-political animosity that we presently have: the International Space Stat..."

Agreed, that's a great and hopeful example.


message 31: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2329 comments The way things are going right now, it will probably be a corporate endeavor. It was said there is no financial incentive to colonize Mars, I would argue that is not necessarily true. You forget the power of tourists with deep pockets. If industry can't find resources to exploit, they can always use the red planet as a tourist destination. In that case, a colony would be made up of low-wage service workers to provide for those billionaires' every needs.

Even if the colony is there to exploit some resource, it would be run basically like a company town. The corporation would rent the living space, and charge for the supplies their workers use...out of their paychecks of course. It would be bleak and rife with abuse, and the distance would make it hard for governments to enforce labor laws. Of course one fear would be if the company goes bankrupt, all those people get stuck without a lifeline.


message 32: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Psssttt J.J. can I take that as an idea?! (just kidding, but it's cool.)


message 33: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2329 comments When I composed the post, it reminded me of Total Recall. Not that Hollywood doesn't rip off ideas, so if you want to take it and put your own take on it, go ahead. Ha!


message 34: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Matthew wrote: "China and India will definitely be major participants in any future endeavors, but they have yet to put a single astronaut on the Moon. While they will be mounting their first crewed mission to the Moon, NASA will be sending missions to Mars. China, India and Russia are not even planning on getting there until the 2040s to 2060s..."

I'm anticipating some technological leap-frogging going on.


message 35: by Graeme (last edited May 17, 2018 09:29PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Matthew wrote: "Seriously. You're basing our hopes for establishing a colony on Mars on google searches? And people calling themselves the "Woodstock Generation" is hardly a measure of a culture's values. Far more people watched the Moon Landing then attended that music festival. And if you ask what the Baby Boomer generation remembers most about their time (that's what most of them call themselves, btw), Apollo 11 ranks much higher than Woodstock...."

Actually google searches are a reasonable way to get a ballpark understanding of a concepts interest level in a very short time .

The TV audience for Apollo 12 was 1/2 that of Apollo 11, Apollo 13 got a big tick for drama, and then the audience died and the politicians went with them - which is why the Apollo 19 and 20 missions got canned. The money dried up along with the public interest.

Obviously more people watched the moon landing than went to Woodstock. The two events are not comparable on attendance.

The question I'm asking is: What is the real appetite for human space exploration in the US?

Amongst space professionals excited by the concept you'll get a big high five, but what about Joe Sixpack looking for a job, or a wall street executive thinking about his quarterly bonus, or a Federal politician thinking about re-election.

There is a cultural engagement that needs to be made for a sustained effort to colonize Mars to happen, sure we've made some progress on some of the enabling technologies, but this has taken forever.

I don't think we have forever to get this done.


message 36: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11806 comments Re the number of people going, in my novel, started off with 200, 100in each ship, with a ship capable of bringing them back, at a pinch. The problem is, you can't send more people there than you can bring back if it goes to custard, and such space ships will be hideously expensive. Further, for orbital reasons, there is a 2-year gap between missions. So it will take quite a time to build up population.


message 37: by Nik (last edited May 17, 2018 11:41PM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 16088 comments I feel our crew is ready for the mission.
By the time an expedition or settlers reach any celestial body the rents will be quite high as the lands will be claimed to be private. This is just an example and I'm sure there are more:
https://www.buymars.com/ (Beware: I've no idea, whether these guys are for real (estate)!)
Moreover, like with the bitcoin, I'm sure real or imaginary land parcels will go berserk as the mission will near and space enthusiasm become high again..


message 38: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16088 comments Matthew wrote: "....a "backup location" for humanity..."

Once there is a backup, some minds may see less reason to care for the source


message 39: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Nik wrote: "I feel our crew is ready for the mission.
By the time an expedition or settlers reach any celestial body the rents will be quite high as the lands will be claimed to be private. This is just an exa..."


Tulips.


message 40: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11806 comments There are an awful lot of acres on Mars, and all the government has to say is, use it or lose it.


message 41: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Nik wrote: "I feel our crew is ready for the mission.
By the time an expedition or settlers reach any celestial body the rents will be quite high as the lands will be claimed to be private. This is just an exa..."


Those Mars real estate dealers are nothing but scammers and their 'rental' contracts won't be worth the price of the paper they will be printed on. Again, international law forbids any nation or individual from claiming possession of a celestial body. We are not anymore at the time of European colonization of the Americas, when every gold-seeking conquistador could land on a beach and claim the whole land for himself or his king. That is one reason for the whole Mars colonization project to be an international one: so that Mars stays international. As for those naive or gullible enough to sign contracts for buying or renting on Mars, they deserve to lose their money, thanks to their sheer stupidity.


message 42: by Matthew (last edited May 18, 2018 10:32AM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Hi Matthew, there are some high profile advocates who are outside the UN/Government/NGO leadership groups, but actions speak louder, the policy thrust is solidly towards mitigation.

Just noting th..."


And how does mitigation of climate change in any way in conflict with colonizing Mars? You are assuming that people will interpret it this way, but there's been no indication of that whatsoever. And, if you peruse the arguments for colonizing Mars, you'd find that it's consistent with mitigation.

The entire purpose, as expressed by its advocates, is ensuring we have a seed of human civilization planted elsewhere in case our attempts to save planet Earth fail. And the bonus reasons include having places to send some of our population and additional resources to take the strain off of Earth. This is not a conflicting plan, its a backup plan.

Also, if the people advocating colonizing Mars aren't making environmental policy, this leaves them free to explore other policies. The UN is not going to step in and stop the colonization of Mars or the Moon when it in no effects their goals of sustainable development and limiting population growth. And they don't need to green-light the colonization of Mars if its federal space agencies or private companies doing it. So any talk of who makes policy is entirely irrelevant.


message 43: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Michel wrote: "Matthew wrote: "Also, to Nik and Michel, what is the basis of saying that the colonization of Mars will be a military affair? ..."

Matthew, I never said that the exploration and colonization of Ma..."


True, you did not, that was more Graeme and how he interpreted your comments. And I would agree that the early research teams would be hierarchically organized, as all current space missions are. But the moment colonists begin to arrive, this arrangement will have to change.

No one is going to tolerate the rule of a small group of astronauts indefinitely and there will need to be the formation of councils just to keep the population content. And if there is any attempt to enforce a type of martial law to ensure it remains in place, colonization will end because no one will want to migrate to a military colony.


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11806 comments The biggest single problem for settlers is that life there will be hard initially because only the basics will be able to be provided, and people who are used to deciding they want something so they go out and buy it are going to be disappointed. They could buy from Earth, but there could be up to a 2-year wait for it to arrive. Then there is the question of earning the money to do it. Mars has to export something back to Earth to earn it, but what? When places like New Zealand was colonized, there were resources that were reasonably easily sold somewhere, like timber, and shortly, gold, but on Mars it is not quite clear what they could ship back. Any ideas, anyone?


message 45: by Graeme (last edited May 18, 2018 02:56PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Perhaps Rare Earth elements?

AS Matthew pointed above, the economics of asteroid mining sucks wrt transport and use on Earth, (unless there is something really valuable in the asteroid).

However, asteroid mining makes sense for the provision of resources for use throughout the solar system as the asteroids are not at the bottom of a planetary gravity well.

But that makes asteroid mining a distant future proposition as off-Earth system wide demand strikes me as somewhat distant in time. 100 + years...

The colonists are going to have to find some way for the colony to pay for itself, or else it's going to get un-popular with those people left on Earth.

The colony is one economic depression or world war away from being abandoned, with or without evacuation of the colonists.

If they can find a genuine economic value to provide back to the greater economy, then they will be sustained.


message 46: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11806 comments The problem with Mars as a source of elements is while it differentiated to some extent, most of it is just basalt, and we have plenty of that here. There will eventually be some mining, but probably not where the initial settlements are, because good mining prospects are probably near volcanic areas. (At least that's where I put them in my novels, so I suppose I had to say that, but ores do need some sort of processing underground, and volcanic activity is one of the few things that might carry out that processing. It is fumarole activity that makes a number of ores on Earth.) The bad news is, most asteroids are also just basalt, because the dust that made up the solids is mainly magnesium and iron silicate, which is just right for making pyroxenes and some olivine.

What could be made on Mars to export to Earth is something of a problem.


message 47: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan What would be the impact of robots on the colony?

Would a large presence of capable versatile, or specialized robots change the way the colony operates?


message 48: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan A nice article on the topic from the World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/0...


message 49: by Michel (last edited May 18, 2018 07:23PM) (new)

Michel Poulin I think that I have to reset the clocks a bit here about all this talk about economic profitability of a future Mars colony.

First, exploring Mars and establishing an initial human base, then expanding it slowly towards eventual self-sufficiency, will take many decades, probably a century or more. Such a colony could not possibly be 'profitable' until it is self-sufficient.

Second, the primary goals of a Mars colony would be first the detailed exploration of Mars, second the establishment of an alternate Human habitat as a plan 'B' in case Earth becomes unlivable in the future. Just the data and knowledge collected by a scientific exploration program of Mars would justify in my mind the costs of the project. Remember the Apollo Moon program? It's sole goal was to land a few astronauts on the Moon and collect some samples and scientific data. That was it! It cost billions of dollars (1960-70 dollars) but nobody expected it to turn up a profit. It was a pure scientific project, laced with lots of patriotic hooplah.

We won't know for sure what resources Mars can offer us until it has been properly explored and prospected by human ground teams. I however believe that Mars may well offer us quantities of various usable minerals and ores, as Earth did for us. The one priority resource the astronauts will be looking for as a top priority will not be to find some gold mine: it will be to find a plentiful, exploitable source of water. No water, no colony and the mission team will then have little choice but to pack up and leave, or keep only a skeletton exploration crew that would have to be regularly resupplied at great cost. I am confident that water will be found in quantity on Mars, most probably in a frozen state under the surface or inside old lava tubes and caves.

Again, I could compare this early Mars colony to one of the actual scientific bases in the Antarctica: a place to conduct scientific research and learn more about the planet, without any regard for economic profitability of the said base. A Mars colony will not and should not be expected to run like a New World trading post of the 1700s.

Oh, one more thing: forget all those sci-fi movies showing crime-riddled Martian cities full of self-serving characters. The ones who will go to Mars during the first few decades will be volunteers who will expect a rough, lean life on Mars but who also will go with enthusiasm and a desire for exploration and adventure. They will not be real estate speculators, gold prospectors, would be tinpot dictators or other non-qualified people going to Mars just to make a buck.


message 50: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Michel, in the link above from the World Economic Forum they claim a $4 for every $1 spent ROI on the Apollo program, I stated $7 above. (depends on who is measuring.... no doubt)

I completely agree with all your points directly above, but is it sufficient to sell the idea strongly enough and for long enough to marshal the resources necessary to make it all happen.

I hope so.


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