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#1 2008-05-03 05:52:13

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,924

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Discussion on another thread made me want to outline briefly one sort of approach to a Mars mission which might work...

US passes the enabling legislation.

This would allow the creation of a US based "Mars Exploration Consortium".
The consortium would be controlled by a board of investors including US government and its partners. Partners might include private companies, individual donors, and other space nations. For example we might have consortium consisting of:-

US government, India, France, Brazil, Japan, Space X, Bigelow and large scale individual donors (let's say Bill Gates for sake of argument).

The Consortium would be empowered to issue Mars Bonds, back by the US government. These would be $100 bonds entitling the bond holder to land leases and mineral rights shares on Mars. These bonds would mature in 25 years' time and would be backed by the US government.

The mission would be part-financed through these bonds.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#2 2008-05-03 07:15:43

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,180

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

The MarsDrive plan is just this as we have been working out the plan for a human mission to mars path.

There is going to be a presentation of the plan at the up coming ISDC

You can see some of the work of descusion on http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/marsdrivemission/

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#3 2008-05-03 12:32:35

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
Website

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

No Way. I am not going to stand around while some Consortium claims an entire planet.

But then again, it is Mars, I don't really care what happens to it.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#4 2008-05-03 15:41:21

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,924

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Sorry - in my haste I left out an important point...

NASA would be the chief consultant and contractor to the consortium.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#5 2008-05-04 05:38:22

Gregori
Member
From: Baile Atha Cliath, Eireann
Registered: 2008-01-13
Posts: 297

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

sounds horrendous

a wierd corporate monopoly over an entire planet

we have enough of this shit on earth, we don't want to compound the original error.

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#6 2008-05-04 06:25:27

Swoosh
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-01-28
Posts: 33

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

I think it sounds great - but you still need to overcome the hurdle of getting adequate return within a reasonable timeframe. Yes, I know the argument that if we can terraform the land then it will probably be worth 100x, but at what cost and in what timeframe? You need to find a way to make double-digit percentage gains (per annum) on a multi-billion dollar seed capital, and that return has to come in within about a decade, so terraforming is certainly out, as is mining.

Anything less than 10%pa within 10 years is not going to wash with private capital.

By the way, Terraformer, don't stand around then. Go claim your own bit! Or invest in the consortium yourself. That way it won't be a bunch of elite Bill Gates types who claim the planet, but rather you yourself, along with anyone else who gives a damn. "For all mankind."

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#7 2008-05-04 06:51:04

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,924

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

I think most of us here would invest however modestly if someone came up with a credible scheme. Credible would mean involvement of people like Elon Musk in my book.

The point about bonds is that they can have their own tradable value based on prospective worth.

I think that as long as people could see that Mars economic development was taking place the value would rise beyond nominal value and people would not be cashing them in after 20 years.

A lot of ifs, I know, but this would at least have the potential for financing a mission at low or zero cost.

Where I live land costs  are about $300 per square metre I think.  The point is that for your $100 bond you could be granted the equivalent of a several square metres of land in a prime location.  It wouldn't necessarily be an actual allocation of land. It could be a nominal landholding on which after 20 years the Consortium could start paying "rent" - financed through economic activity on the planet.  Maybe this could start off slow with say a 1% return on land holdings, but rising gradually to a 10% return over say 20 years.

A lot would depend on the extent to which Mars could secure income. It could be a scientific centre and a gold mining centre for instance. If there are no ways in which Mars can "earn its keep" then of course the scheme does not make much economic sense.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#8 2008-05-04 09:09:37

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
Website

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Invest in it? Pay money to someone for land that isn't theirs? No way!

But Mars has nothing of value anyway, unless it can be used to support mining operations in the Asteroid Belt. Sort of like an Agricultural world. We have the Moon for a Low-gravity Industial world, Mars isn't needed. The best use for Mars is crops.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#9 2008-05-04 09:23:44

JoshNH4H
Moderator
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,513
Website

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Wrong.  That is the best use for the things that will be made out of the asteroid belt.  We don't really need that much metal, Mercury would be better than the asteroid belt on all counts.  Also, humans like planets with good G's. It's psychological, and physical.  In my Making planets thread from way back, you'l notice that it is actually energy efficient to

A- gather hot gases from the sun
B- Use a heat engine to cool them to room temperatures and make electricity
C-  If it's solid store it, if not, use it (H2/He) In an electric thermal system to bring to earth.


-Josh

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#10 2008-05-04 14:48:10

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,924

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Terraformer -

You said it yourself - crops.

Mars has lots of raw materials: metals and ceramics, energy, the makings of a good soil.

However, in terms of tradable commodities the emphasis is going to be on gold or some other precious metal I think.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#11 2008-05-05 05:34:03

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
Website

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

However, in terms of tradable commodities the emphasis is going to be on gold or some other precious metal I think.

Which can be extracted easier from Asteroids.

I can't really see any use for Mars than Crop growing (wonder how big they'd get in the 2/5 gravity) and somewhere for Miners to go and get decent gravity without needing a huge centrfuge.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#12 2008-05-05 14:11:54

bobunf
Member
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: 2005-11-21
Posts: 223

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Precious metals can be even more easily and much more cheaply extracted from the Earth.

Mining for export to Earth can't be viable without reducing transportion costs by orders of magnitude.  Even then, will mining operations in vacuum, whether on Mars, the moon or an asteroid, ever be cheaper than on Earth?

Not in this century, if ever.

Bob

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#13 2008-05-05 17:40:21

noosfractal
Member
From: Biosphere 1
Registered: 2005-10-04
Posts: 824
Website

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

The only half reasonable scheme I've heard for asteroid mining is for the mining of water to bring to LEO.  It could immediately be profitable because it can be used as reaction mass to deorbit stuff (like satellites), and later, it could be split to make a rocket fuel depot in orbit - and, of course, it could be used to resupply orbital hotels, etc.  Since it costs $10,000/lb to get stuff to LEO, anything _useful_ already in LEO is worth at least $10,000/lb.


Fan of Red Oasis

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#14 2008-05-08 04:12:52

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Until Ares V puts it there for about $1500/lb


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#15 2008-05-08 06:05:46

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,924

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Ciclops -

Really? That's good news if true. Is this cost reduction a generally accepted figure?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#16 2008-05-08 06:27:23

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

It's the number NASA have said a few times in interviews. It's based on a marginal cost of between $200m and $400m per Ares V and a LEO payload of 130MT. So it's a conservative number, at $200m it would be about $700/lb. Ares V is in study phase right now, it won't fly until 2018 unless more funding comes through.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#17 2008-05-08 12:24:37

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,924

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Hope it's not another Space Shuttle scam!


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#18 2008-05-08 13:30:24

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

No scam. One big advantage of Ares is that it's based on well understood technology, SRBs, RS-68s etc etc. Work on Ares I will prove the 5 segment SRB evolution and almost all of the upper stage including the J-2X. Ares V is being designed to be reliable and cheap.

The Shuttle was a totally new beast, right on the edge of what was possible - and it still is.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#19 2008-05-08 14:11:50

Commodore
Member
From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: Mars Exploration Consortium.

Was there ever such a price point put on the VentureStar?

If it worked it would have put 20tons to orbit for the cost of fuel and upkeep. The fuel tank issues were solved after it was canceled. Whether or not upkeep would be low enough, remains to be seen.

I think the Air Force has a variant of it, and McCain with give it to NASA to eliminate the development cost of the Ares I. The puts the Ares V with functional reach by the end of his term.


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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