Earth-Mars trade will likely be the primary form of commerce for the first Martian settlements. This trade is limited by the great distance between Earth and Mars, and the enormous cost of lifting goods out of the gravity well of the two planets. The majority of the commerce will necessarily be information-based.
- 1 Short-Term Business Models
- 1.1 Information Services
- 1.2 Financial Services
- 1.3 Science
- 1.4 Consumer Goods and Services
- 1.5 Real Estate
Short-Term Business Models
Initial business models could resemble those similar to the ones used by many small nations, such as the Vatican, Monaco, San Marino, and some Pacific islands. Like the first Martian settlements, these nations cannot rely on large pools of labor, infrastructure, or abundant natural resources.
People could buy the .mars domain.
Established colonies can advise governments and corporations in their own exploration/colonization efforts.
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Flag of Convenience
As on Earth, a sovereign martian state can sell ship registration. Initially, this would apply only to marine vessels, but it may be expanded to space vessels in the future. A vessel's registration determines which laws are in effect for its occupants when it is in international waters.
A settlement can lease space and sell resources to governments or institutions that want to send their scientists to Mars. Alternately,
Research for Hire
Skilled settlers could be paid to do scientific research.
Hazardous Research Facility
An irradiated near-vacuum environment is a near-perfect biological barrier . Any facility would necessarily be isolated from the colony, of course. It would be the perfect location for biotechnology research without the risk to terrestrial life.
Martian scientists and professors can record lectures and presentations that can be sold to schools, colleges, and universities.
Consumer Goods and Services
Reality shows, etc.
While Mars itself cannot be trademarked, likenesses of the settlement/settlers could be. Possibilities include stamps, coins, playsets, etc. First colonists would likely gain celebrity status. These goods would be manufactured on Earth, due to the cost savings.
Companies may pay to place a logo on a wall, use "the official << insert commercial product here >> of Mars" in advertising.
Ensure your genetic legacy by sending your sperm/eggs/embryos to Mars. Having descendants on two worlds is more secure.
While historically not the most respectable business, an actual presence on Mars lends much more credibility to the transaction.
People might pay to have their ashes buried on Mars.