'Invest Mars'

Forrest Bishop (forrestb@ix.netcom.com)
Sat, 23 Jan 1999 15:18:19 -0800

gd33463@glo.be wrote:
(Joost de Lijser)


> >I am instigating a privately funded study for industrializing and colonizing
> >Mars using near-term technology and financing. The proposal
> >relies heavily on forward-deployed robotics, early native resource
> >development, private launch vehicles and one-way tickets.
> >We need some marketing, law, finance and technical assistance.

A coherent response has arrived:

> I think besides marketing, law, finance and [technical] assistance, you will
> need some historical, political, sociological, and probably military
> assistance, planning something of this magnitude.
> If humanity's space colonization era will be anything like the colonization
> era on earth, you can expect a few rough years before it will start looking
> remotely like the utopia you planned for.

This is not intended to be portrayed as a utopia- quite the contrary! A pioneer on Mars will be subject to deprivations greater than the average Bangladeshi. This study focuses on the "starting problem": what is the incentive to risk capital
on this? How can it pay for itself?

> An early offworld colony

Actually, this is an historically loaded word- perhaps the language of space development and exploitation should be re-examined for these kinds of predispositions. How about 'field office'? Branch? Division? Non-geographical unit?

> would rely heavily on its homeworld for; a
> consumer market, the score of new technologies only large consumer markets
> tend to fund, the inflood of new colonists often bringing (especially early
> on) very useful skills and knowledge, etc etc. All of this requires a
> healthy relationship with at least one of the major political powers on
> earth. Note that those will be the same powers who most likely want to
> claim your settlements as their territory.

I was thinking more in terms of a consortium of mutinational corporations, or a new company that trades internationally. Some of the political problems alluded to above are currently being addressed by the new private launchers. Kistler, for example, is based in a US city but has contingency plans for launching from Australia if the US continues to to block their use of American launch facilities. Similarly, Boeing's SeaLaunch uses a converted oil platform that can be
towed into international waters. What if the settlements are considered to be 'ships'-
registered in Liberia? How about swinging a deal with some UN member like Brunei or Toga (or some entity not bound by the Moon treaty)?

> Most likely your early economy
> would be based on supplying bulk unprocessed resources, or half-products.

Yes, this is part of the proposal. Shipping H and C to the Moon could be cheaper from Mars than from Earth. Shipping CHON, Si, Al, Ti, Fe, etc. to Earth orbit is even more interesting, as there is already a nascent market there. These are -call it Phase 2- later developments, though. First comes establishing some kind of sustainable presence.

> For the inflood of colonists you can expect what i'll call (for lack of a
> better english term known to me) "have-not's", not necessarily poor people,
> but people who's personal advancement is limited by all sorts of factors,
> not in the least those caused by the nation states power on earth.

I'm thinking that the early "field office workers" are made shareholders in the corporate entity.

> You may
> want to tailor your laws

"Corporate guidelines"

> to include the personal freedom desired to attract
> specific groups of people from the homeworld, unless all you want are
> religious freaks, criminals, and people who do not bring the free training
> and skills that could be so useful early on.

Just so.

> Looking to humanities past
> for examples, it would not be wise to plan this without including law
> enforcement and defense strategies.

Not following the "corporate guidelines" may reduce your shareholder value? Provisions made for on-the-job psychological stress? Early "retirement" (going back to Earth) costs shares? I have made some small contributions to spacewar theory already. In a nutshell: Earth has the blockade (economic sanctions) advantage, Mars has the high ground (cf "Open Air Space Habitats" at IASE site below).

> I'd also like to note that of the various european imperialist strategies
> (Spanish: conquest, French: assimilation, Dutch/Portugese: trade, English:
> population) the Spanish and English were the most succesfull. So unless
> Martians do exist, the English population strategy may not be a bad one to
> follow. ;)

The Hudson's Bay Company seems to me to be the closest analogy.

> Expect to deal with social unrest,


> Shortage of resources and goods will be one of the main problems in the
> very early days of your colony. It may be good to look at those examples of
> third world countries who have had some success in dealing with similar
> problems.

Just so. Brick-making is certainly an early Martian industry, as are greenhouse farming, mining, solar energy collection, etc.

This study is more focused on economic and technical solutions to the "starting problem". Nearly every proposal to date (even some of mine from the 1970's) has relied on taxes for financing, has not even remotely considered ROI, and are essentialy unsustainable "tourist" trips like the defunct Apollo program. Some elements of the new private proposals can be incorporated in this proposal:

Entertainment and product placement (like the Artemis project). Sell science (SpaceDev's NEAP model).
Contract some space services (NEAP model). (btw, I don't see much of value in the Millennial project.)

What is different:
No search for life (except as science/entertainment for hire) No terraformation plans (Mars Society)
(These two items would be considered flaky by any serious investor...)

Little or no shipping H2 (Mars Direct, NASA clone) No government financing except as a customer (NEAP model) Use the existing facilities and situations synergistically. More reliance on forward-deployed robotics for first few launch cycles (~26 months per cycle).
Fewer return vehicles- minimum stays of 500+ 687 days. Focus on living and building rather than on science.

The number one resource to prospect for is water. This should be doable with robotics.
Some example technical questions:

Can an instrument like the neutron spectrometer (?) used on Lunar Prospector be adapted for the Martian envronment (it may have to generate its own particle beam).

What does it take to dig a hole on Mars? A drill rig? A robot mole? Compressed atmosphere? Chemicals? A combination of these? The system mass has to be minimal and it should have some redundancies.

Some areas on Mars appear to be dried-up river and ocean beds. There is a possiblity of permafrost near the surface. What does it take to clear a rock field? To level a site? A miniature robot bulldozer that can work continuously for 2 years might be able to do this. It also might dig trenches to search for permafrost. To minimize its launch mass, it might pick up local rocks for its ballast. (let people guide it from Earth for a fee).

Can a robotic manufacturing plant produce photovltaic cells, or at least accomplish some part of the process, especially mining and extracting? Same for thin films, bricks, glass, structural members, etc.

What are Phobos and Deimos made of? These two little moons are absolutely crucial. Can a NEAP-style mission be launched real soon? Is SpaceDev already considering this?

***The above contains some ideas and proposals of Forrest Bishop's that are original, this email constitutes the first publication.***


Forrest Bishop
Interworld Productions, LLC
Institute of Atomic-Scale Engineering