Problems and solutions

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Where a problem arises, a solution it needed. This page lists all major problems and solutions for the establishment of a Martian settlement.

Rocketry to transport humans to Mars

Problem: Today there is no booster capable of launching the trip. Not only the weight of a few persons, but also the life support system, energy production, production equipment and a stock pile of food needs to be lifted into LEO and to Mars.

Possible solutions:

  • The transport vehicle from Earth to Mars is assembled in LEO.
  • SpaceX proposed a system for Mars transportation in 2016. Orbital refueling in LEO and in situ production of return propellant would allow for cargo in the range of hundreds of tonnes per vehicle. In 2019, testing began on the methalox engine and a test version system upper stage. First costs to Mars were estimated by SpaceX at 140$/kg in their 2016 and 2017 presentations[1].

Landing several transport vehicles nearby on the Martian surface

Problem: Several supply missions are necessary to bring all the stuff to the settlement's location. Exact landing is difficult, so all landings will be done in a safe distance from the others. We don't know how we'll move the modules around on Mars.

Possible solutions:

  • Every lander is equipped with the ability to do another hop by firing it's rockets again after the primary touch down. The fuel for this is either brought from Earth or produced locally from the Martian atmosphere.
  • Every lander is equipped with wheels and can be steered towards the settlement.
  • The landers are carried by a settlement's rover. This is what Mars One plans.
  • Early missions to Mars should set up an instrument landing system comparable in accuracy to the instrument landing systems used by aircraft on Earth. The landing area would be rather small and connected to the living area by a short road. The distance that an arriving shipment to Mars would need to be moved by a local rover would be reasonably small.
  • Landing precision may be improved. Since 2018, SpaceX has demonstrated the ability of landing rockets extremely precisely on sea going barges.


Problem: The settlement needs large amounts of energy for propellant production, heating and for food production.

Possible solutions: (Please see the main article about energy and Cost of energy on Mars.


Problem: The settlers can not rely on food shipments from Earth, because this is too expensive on the long run.

Possible solutions: -In situ production of food. See the main article about food.


Problem: The radiation on the surface of Mars is higher than on Earth, putting the health of humans and plants at risk.

Possible solutions: -Protect the settlement with radiation shielding. See the main article about radiation shielding.

See also