Talk:Settlement Strategies

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Using a Lunar Stepping Stone

If we want to keep all various colonization ideas it makes no sense to present an idea in a deficient form. I believe that my portrayal of the to Mars by way of a lunar stepping stone idea is closer to what its proponents have in mind.--Farred 01:44, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

It should have both sides of the argument so I've added back a modified version of my text. Frontiersman 04:15, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
We should present representative arguments in favor and opposed to various strategies, within the limits of what is reasonable for an article and provide links to more thorough discussion. I would change the title from "Develop industry on the Moon and then transport it to Mars" to "Develop industry on the Moon to support Mars colonization." We will not be transporting lunar industry to Mars because different industries are suitable for Luna and Mars. Sending an operating space habitat to Mars with a solar power satellite should help.
This strategy is not just moving the problem to a different place. It is addressing a different set of problems in order to use new resources for colonizing Mars. Also it provides a ready-made market for Mars industry. I would argue that exporting volatiles to Luna would likely be economically viable, because a fully reusable to orbit launch vehicle for use on Mars should be much easier to build than one for Earth because only 20.2% of the energy needed to orbit Earth can get to Mars Orbit. The volatiles should be extremely valuable on Luna. Being continually reused, they would determine the size of lunar industry. Why do you think it would not be viable?--Farred 01:30, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
Since there has been no response as to why trade of volatiles to Luna would not be profitable, I will remove the assertion. When there is some reason for it, it can be added back.--Farred 02:30, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
You've removed far more than such an assertion. Don't remove the counter-argument to this dubious proposal. Frontiersman 21:42, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
And BTW you are seriously missing my point that you have *moved* the problem, the problem being how to develop a self-sufficient economy in space when launch costs from earth are so high. You have simply *moved* the problem to a new locale and used some hand-waving about trade. But you can trade between places on Mars too: if trade between Mars and the moon could solve the problem so could trade between different places on Mars. The moon doesn't have anything fundamental that isn't also on Mars. Please, try to understand what other people are saying before undoing what they write. Frontiersman 21:46, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
I think I understand Frontiersman's idea that if trade between Luna and Mars could solve problems then trade between two places on Mars could solve the problem too. If it were just a case of shipping material goods from Luna to Mars in exchange for material goods shipped from Mars to Luna He would have a point, but there are other things to consider. Luna could potentially ship containers of liquid oxygen into low Earth orbit so that the cost of getting reaction mass in LEO would be greatly reduced. This would reduce the cost of transportation from Earth to Mars and from Earth to Luna. This advantage cannot be duplicated by trading between two places on Mars and transportation of goods from Earth is something required to set up the colony on Mars at least. As far as moving the problem of setting up industry is concerned, the "develop industry on the Moon to support Mars colonization" strategy enlarges the area of development rather than moving it. After developing Luna, the problem of colonizing Mars still remains, with some automatic equipment in place on Mars and industry on Luna to support it. As I suggested above, a solar power satellite sent from cis lunar space to synchronous Mars orbit could help Martian industry. The advantage of shipping material to orbit to build it that Luna could have is beyond the reach of Mars-Mars trade. Likewise, building a space habitat and sending it to Mars provides a benefit that cannot be reproduced by Mars-Mars trade. Furthermore, building space-based solar power satellites for Earth cannot be duplicated by Mars-Mars trade, and it is a source of money to Luna which Luna could spend for volatiles from Mars and Mars could spend for imports from Earth. The idea that Mars-Mars trade could solve any problem that Luna-Mars could solve just does not seem to be supported by any facts.
The comparison of shipping water to Luna to shipping river water by truck to "the top of the mountains where the river comes from" is a nonanalogous analogy. Luna is not where volatiles come from. It is a place where they could be put to good use. The top of mountains is not a place where there is any specified use for water. Certainly water is necessary for industry. It will be necessary on Mars where it will need to be recycled because digging it out of the permafrost is more difficult than pumping it from an Earthly river to Earthly industry. The Martian polar caps probably hold down some liquid water where it flows beneath the cap to the edge of the ice cap and serves as the source of water for the lower latitude permafrost. However, the vast majority of Martian water is frozen. A Mars colony will recycle water and Luna will recycle water. The motivation on Luna will just be more intense. In "Equipment for autonomous growth" Frontiersman wrote: "By the time we are done with our analysis this economy and its technology will likely be radically different both from the traditional frontier town and from the modern technology with which we are familiar." With nothing more specific than that, readers should take on faith that the network of industrial processes supplying each other will be fully closed. If Frontiersman can swallow that, why does he have problems with Luna recycling water and using only a small amount of imports for anything other than expansion? It certainly seems more reasonable to get water out of Mars' gravity well than out of Earth's, and on Luna volatiles should be as valuable as gold. Why then does Frontiersman refer to my specific suggestions for Luna-Mars trade as "some hand-waving"?--Farred 07:14, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
If the volatiles are "as valuable as gold" industry certainly won't be able to afford to operate on Luna. There is no such thing as 100% recycling technology. The expense and not recycling was the point of my water-truck analogy. And the closed-loop of operations and inputs/outputs needed for a self-sufficient economy has nothing to do with recycling, they are two very different concepts. Raw materials simply have to be available, they are not product, the closed loops have only to do with tooling and workers skills and the lowered efficiency that comes from less division of labor. BTW "Luna could potentially ship containers of liquid oxygen into low Earth orbit so that the cost of getting reaction mass in LEO would be greatly reduced" is a point and you should add it to the article (you might want to rephrase it to clarify though). Frontiersman 16:00, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately, space access is very expensive, and will probable always be. I can imagine some space transports to initiate a Martian colony, but I can not imagine a space traffic on a regular basis, neither between Earth and Mars, nor between any other celestial body and Mars. Nobel metals, catapulted from Mars to Earth by a coil gun, has some charm alright. But the transport of large amounts of water is something with another order of magnitude. I think we can be happy if we are able to start a business with medium effort as a first step. More expensive types of business might be the second step. -- Rfc 21:13, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Frontiersman claims that "If the volatiles are 'as valuable as gold' industry certainly won't be able to afford to operate on Luna." Let us put some numbers in that and see if a statement that would be only common sense referring to Earth industries actually holds true for Luna. I cannot predict with certainty how efficiently hydrogen will be recycled in the ilmenite hydrogen process for producing oxygen so I will guess that one part in a thousand of the hydrogen goes out with the ilmenite tailings in every batch. I will guess that one part in a thousand of both hydrogen and oxygen gets lost in electrolytic separation of oxygen from the water to get oxygen into storage tanks. So starting with 1000 pounds of hydrogen we get 998 pounds of hydrogen and 7922 of oxygen from running that hydrogen once through the process. If each 10 pounds of oxygen requires a pound of tankage, then at 20cents a pound to launch electromagnetically from Luna to L2 and 20 cents a pound to launch electromagnetically from L2 to low Earth orbit, it will cost $3486 to ship 7922 pounds of oxygen to low Earth orbit from Luna. At $17700 a pound for gold on Earth today or $17700 a pound for hydrogen on Luna, $35400 worth of hydrogen were used up making the oxygen. That compares to $79 million to ship the same amount of oxygen from Earth to low Earth orbit. I have not mentioned the cost of making the tankage or the maneuvering system to recircularize the orbit of the oxygen tanks after they are captured in low Earth orbit by aerobraking and some other costs, but I think they will amount to less than the $78916114 by which the cost of transportation from Earth exceeds the costs that I have mentioned so far. Frontiersman wrote: " The moon doesn't have anything fundamental that isn't also on Mars." This is simply false. Luna has hard vacuum and a 1.63 meter per second gravity field that Mars does not have. These allow the shipment of goods into space at a lower cost than Mars can achieve, because Mars cannot use as simple an electromagnetic launcher for cargo as is possible on Luna. If Frontiersman does not believe that a mass driver will work efficiently on Luna and believes that any industry on Luna will require enormous amounts of water, then that is the sum of his arguments. They are entirely based upon his beliefs and based on those beliefs, he refuses to consider the possibility of any benefit from industry on Luna. That is his privilege.
Rfc writes that "space access is very expensive, and will probable always be." Of course if mass drivers launching from Luna cannot work, he is correct. If everyone believes that he is correct and refuses to attempt the development of mass drivers on Luna, it is a simple victory of defeatism --Farred 04:12, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
How can defeatism be victorious? It is simply this: defeatism wins in determining policy and humanity loses. --Farred 06:05, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

It is important to keep in mind the essence of what I have demonstrated here. The sum of the cost of hydrogen at $17700 per pound which is used up in producing oxygen on Luna and the cost of shooting it to low Earth orbit by electromagnetic launcher is $38586 for 7922 pounds, about $4.90 per pound, with the assumptions that I have used. That is about 0.05% of the cost of transporting the oxygen into Earth orbit from Earth. So the argument that "if volatiles are as valuable as gold, industry certainly won't be able to afford to operate on Luna" does not hold water. Frontiersman concentrated on the relative expense production of oxygen on Luna compared to the expense of production of oxygen on Earth and completely ignored the cost of transportation. This is a case of straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel.

One cannot start out assuming that the only possible colony on Mars is one that is completely independent of imports and that exports are impossible, and then from these initial assumptions conclude that there can be valuable trade between Luna and Mars. One should analyze the initial assumptions and see if they are valid. Operating on trade for a while could lead to building an industry that is capable of being independent. While space access from Mars will be expensive, it will not be nearly so expensive as maintaining human beings on Mars, at least in the beginning. Access to space is one big advantage that Mars has over Earth, that and the lack of competing claimants for use of the land are about the only advantages that Mars has over Earth. Completely ignoring a major advantage risks missing an opportunity for economic development. Rfc refers to the transport of large amounts of water. Does that imply that the amount of water is large in comparison to any specific thing? What is important is the amount of money that can be generated using water. Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and argon are what is needed on Luna, and Mars has them all. The hydrogen that is chemically part of water is only 11.2% of its mass. Oxygen would be removed from water before the hydrogen would be shipped. For any requirement for water on Luna it will be reconstituted from hydrogen and recycled as much as possible. I have not demonstrated here that the value of goods that could be produced and launched into space from Luna would definitely exceed the value of volatiles used up in the production process, but just writing that industry will not be able to afford to operate on Luna does not prove that point. Complete industrial processes need to be examined in sufficient detail to definitely rule them out of economic viability.

Water is used lavishly on Earth because it is cheap. I read that a farmer paid $26 per hundred thousand gallons to irrigate his fields. That is just the cost of pumping it out of the ground. For most industry on Earth water is free. Naturally industry will operate differently on Luna. Until a plan is tested it is only a possibility, and what we should consider here are possibilities. --Farred 11:45, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Assuming, the whole Earth-Mars-Luna business works profitable, how would you begin? It is impossible to build all at once. And probably it is necessary to begin with an instantly (at most 3 years or so) profitable part. -- Rfc 19:44, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, there are difficulties in establishing a profitable human presence on Luna, Mars or both. In the scheme that I have been describing there is considerable basic research that needs to be done to establish the availability of resources for industrial processing. Most of this needs to be done on Luna, because a considerable portion of the necessary data about Mars is already in hand. We can well predict how the atmosphere of Mars could be distilled for Argon and Nitrogen, if there is sufficient electrical power. Collecting carbon dioxide is likewise strait forward. However more work needs to be done on machinery that can mine the ice and permafrost. A nuclear reactor for power might need to lose heat by radiation, but I do not know enough to rule out using the Martian atmosphere as coolant. There are problems in developing a Mars to orbit shuttle and in testing a scale model mass accelerator in a large vacuum chamber on Earth. The financing cannot be considered an investment in terms of individuals expecting profit from the investment in their lifetimes, but humanity lives much longer than any individual human. We have already started the investment though there is no commitment to follow through until the scheme I have started to describe is completed. My first step would be to cancel any purely exploratory manned mission to Mars, because the information needed can be gathered more cheaply by robotic missions. Then I would continue on with robotic exploratory missions that are already underway. When there is more extensive ground truth for Luna, it will be possible to do some definite engineering studies on using these resources to build an industry on Luna. With better knowledge of the time and money needed people can decide how to proceed. It is not hopeless. If people see establishing a colony off Earth as a sufficiently worthwhile goal, it could be financed without a financial return for twenty years. By the time, of the necessary engineering studies, if that point is reached, people will already be fifteen years into my fifty year plan.

Certainly if someone can interest investors in a plan to make a profit in three years, let him take his best shot. I have yet to see any plan for developing Mars or Luna that would seem a reasonable investment for a retirement account. Things change and new technology might make such a plan possible, but I will not hold my breath waiting for it. --Farred 02:32, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
In the near term launching helium three by electric launcher in capsules from Luna directly to Earth to be used for research might be profitable, but there is too much unknown to make that determination now. --Farred 02:43, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Golden Mars scenario

The Golden Mars scenario paragraph seem to fit better in Interplanetary commerce or Earth-Mars Trade. How about keeping a more vague mining business strategy here in this article and moving the detailed gold business to one of the other articles? -- Rfc 21:10, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

It's an example for financial strategy, and financial strategy is a crucial part of colonization strategy. No money, no colony. It may well be that finance should have its own article, summarized in this one. It's about far more than commerce and trade, it's about exploring what the finances of a colony would be like and how one designs a colony based on financial constraints (with the Golden Mars scenario just being an example of such financial constraints). Frontiersman 02:23, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
It's not the only possible example, BTW. We could have "The Hacker Scenario" based on a bunch of computer programmers resettling on Mars and selling their services or code back on earth in exchange for the imports they need. Again the trade and finances are quite central to the colonization strategy that the hackers would pursue (e.g., how self-sufficient they'd have to be would be based on what imports they could afford). Frontiersman

Examples are very good for understanding, so I fully agree with you having examples in Marspedia. The more in number, the better. The more detailed, the better. What I mean is, we can use the wiki technology (links, categories, etc.) for better structuring. The article is already pretty long, which is fine so far, but it will grow even more. The strategy thing is a really big topic. So, how about creating an own article for each example, for instance Golden Mars scenario? This allows to create many more examples, each in its own article, but neatly linked to each other and to Colonization strategy and vice versa. All the example articles may then be in category:colonization business models, which I am creating right now.-- Rfc 19:51, 25 February 2010 (UTC)