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#26 2002-01-25 00:39:23

From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

There have been many speculations about Martian government in science fiction novels, Mars Society conventions, e-mail listservs and bulletin boards, and even in NASA reports. The subject of government is dictated by several related variables: population size, economic basis for settlement, the extent and nature of terrestrial involvement, the legal basis for government and ownership, and other factors. In exploring the evolution of Martian government and society over time, it might be useful to think in terms of three or four time periods. They could be labeled chronologically: initial, medium term, and eventual. Or they could be labeled demographically: the station, the hamlet, the village, the town, and the nation. The first stages are smallest, closest to us in time, and the most predictable, while the last stages are the most speculative, the possibilities cover the greatest range, and the possible departure from Earth models is the greatest. In the following I will use the demographic terms, which reflect the size of the Mars population (less than about 12; 12 to about 150; 150 to about 1000; 1000 to several thousand; more than several thousand).

1. The Station. Whenever a crew touches down on Mars for the first time—probably four people, though it could be three or as many as six—the “government” will be quite simple. Someone will be the commander, someone else the vice commander. Both of those people will also be occupied full time by other tasks: geologist, mechanic, or whatever. They will stay one “cycle” (that is, arrive on one opposition and depart on the next) and will be replaced by a second crew of similar size. But at some point a crew will be able to stay more than one cycle. This is probably dependent on partial food production and recycling of wastes on Mars. It could occur as quickly as Mars 2. Note that currently the travel opportunities between Earth and Mars mean that the first crew leaves Mars about nine months before they are replaced. The nine-month gap could be covered if recycling was available to stretch supplies, there was more than one Hab for backup, and an entire crew (or at least two members of one) signed up to stay two cycles. If eventually one aimed for an average stay of three cycles, recruiting crews only from those willing to commit at least six years to Mars, with four people being replaced every cycle, Mars would have a population of twelve. At this size, there is still no need for a “government” per se, though there will be a need for staff meetings. If the missions were being sent out the way NASA sends them now, we can roughly predict the sort of structure the Mars station would have, with a couple of heads of departments (“bosses”) and a fairly informal, egalitarian environment. If the crew is ethnically diverse, one hopes the Mars experience will weld them into a more or less unified whole.

2. The Hamlet. The Mars population could grow beyond a dozen or so if the Hab (as described in The Case for Mars) were expanded into a three or four story “Habcraft” (as described in The Case for Mars, pages 231-232). A habcraft can hold 24 people and would weigh about twice as much as a Hab, or seventy tonnes. It would require a nuclear rocket or a solar thermal rocket supplemented by chemical engines to get to Mars on the same 145-tonne lift vehicle as Mars Direct uses. Presumably for safety purposes it would be wisest to send two Habcraft at once, so if trouble developed with one, the other could serve as an emergency shelter. It might also be wise to send the Earth Return Vehicle along in parallel, so that three vehicles were available in emergencies. It would probably also be important to launch a “cycler” which would be a space vehicle in a permanent twenty-four month orbit around the sun. It would pass Earth when the mission departed from there and would fly to Mars in six months. The Habcrafts and ERV would dock to it. It could be as simple as a spare Habcraft with a docking module, emergency consumables, fuel, and solar panels. It could even have a greenhouse that could be operated remotely when no one was on board. The cycler might need some fuel to modify its orbit to reach Earth at the right time; I don’t know celestial mechanics well enough to know how much Mars’s gravity can do.

At Mars, that planet’s gravity would bend the cycler’s orbit so it returned to Earth in twenty months instead of eighteen, in time for the next mission. Another cycler with a Habcraft attached to it would pass Mars at the time a flight was returning to Earth to provide a similar backup capacity and ample space for the return trip. On reaching Mars, one of the two Habcraft could remain on Phobos to provide a return vehicle; the other Habcraft and the ERV would land on Mars, together carrying all the passengers down.

Under these circumstances, the Mars population, renewed at the rate of 48 people per cycle, and assuming an average stay of three cycles, would grow to 144. If Habcrafts cost about the same as Habs, the budget for the operation would be similar to the budget to send four to Mars, except it might involve three heavy lift vehicles every cycle. Presumably at some point as tourism develops in Earth orbit, the cost of Mars flights will drop. The biggest expense for any space venture is to reach to low earth orbit. Right now with the Space Shuttle the cost runs about $10,000 per kilogram. If the cost drops to $1,000 per kilogram, then the big expense is cut to a tenth of what it is currently.

What government does a hamlet of 13-144 need? Presumably at this size, agriculture has been developed and it may be possible for some couples to stay and raise a family. Small children probably should not fly in interplanetary space, but college students could, so once a couple had children on Mars they’d have to stay at least 15-20 years. If their living quarters were under several meters of regolith, radiation levels would be close to Earth normal, so it is feasible to have children. There are possible problems: Martian gravity may be bad for developing bodies; and children exposed to no cold and flu germs for twenty years might have to spend their first year on the Earth in the hospital, battling all sorts of microorganisms.

A hamlet will need a clinic, a school, family housing, and probably a store, among other things. The school might include provisions for graduate education, as people might arrive half way through their doctorates and would have to finish them up under the watchful eyes of a local geologist or exobiologist. It would definitely have to include full day care for children as young as three months, so as to free up as many people to do work as possible. In many ways, it might function like an Israeli kibbutz. A hamlet would also have the ability to process local materials to fabricate metal, plastic, fiberglass, and glass parts, an ability that could require the importation of hundreds of tonnes of additional cargo. Some of that would include automated equipment and robots. We are close to developing robots to carry out tasks like picking tomatoes; presumably tasks such as that will fall to robots on Mars.

It may make sense for the Commander (appointed by the sending space agency) to have to interact with a Council elected by the hamlet’s residents. If the elections occurred every cycle several months after the new mission arrived, it could represent the new arrivals as well as the old hands. At this point, since the people arriving are not all staying a long time and because the weight of terrestrial cultures will still be heavy, it seems likely that the elections will be similar to those on Earth. An alternative would be to use a New England-style town meeting to serve as a legislative body. With a population of 144 (perhaps 200, if there are a lot of children) there will also be the need to register marriages and births, oversee divorces, and settle disputes. A part-time judge may be needed, who would receive legal advice from terrestrial judges selected by the space agency. The hamlet would therefore possess rudimentary executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

Even at the hamlet level, economic forces will play a role in the further development of Martian settlement. Antarctica’s population balloons to several thousand people every summer, a demonstration of the money attached to pure science; but each Antarctic resident costs tens of thousands of dollars to put there, not tens of millions. If, when Mars gets to the hamlet level, it costs two billion dollars per cycle to send 48 people there, then the cost would be $40 million per person. It would be possible to get many nations to shell out $40 million to place a national citizen on Mars, so that might be one source of funds. The development of scientific and tourist facilities on the moon will also help drive down the cost of Mars settlement because travel times to the moon are much shorter and the same equipment could be used in both environments. But further expansion of Mars inevitably will require some economic incentives and return on the money invested there. Where can those economic incentives be found? Several come to mind.

A. Methane/oxygen fuel from Phobos. In another paper posted on the bulletin board I describe the value of developing a refueling station on Phobos. A Hab, a 4.5 tonne nuclear reactor, a drill, some tanks, and a gas processing unit—mostly items developed for Martian exploration or possibly lunar polar exploration—could inject reactor waste heat into a shaft drilled a hundred or more meters into Phobos, breaking down hydrated minerals and carbonaceous compounds, releasing water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrocarbons that could be processed into methane and oxygen fuel. The first use of the fuel would be to replace the two-stage ERV proposed for Mars Direct with a reusable single-stage-to-orbit vehicle of roughly the same mass. A twenty-tonne vehicle (empty) fueled with a hundred tonnes of methane and oxygen fuel could carry about thirty tonnes of cargo to Phobos, where the vehicle could refuel with another hundred tonnes of fuel and head for Earth.

Extra methane and oxygen could be accumulated on Phobos and sent to Earth every cycle. A hydrogen tank used by a solar thermal or nuclear thermal rocket and storing one hundred tonnes of hydrogen propellant could store about 1,600 tonnes of liquid methane and liquid oxygen instead. If some of the fuel were burned to get the rest on a minimum energy course back to Earth, and more burned to lower it into low earth orbit, and if gentle aerobraking were used over a six month period to lower the orbit without use of fuel, one could get about a third of the total into low earth orbit, or about 500 tonnes. That would be more than enough propellant to send the entire next Mars expedition to Mars. If the fuel were worth $1,000 per kilogram in low earth orbit, its total value would be a half billion dollars.

B. Rare materials from the Martian surface. A reuseable ERV/Mars shuttle and a Phobos refueling station would allow transportation of very large loads back to low Earth orbit. Gold is worth about $10,000 per kilogram (ten million dollars per tonne) and if remote sensing allowed the discovery of a Martian Klondike or Sutters Mill, astronauts might be able to pick up a tonne or more of gold as nuggets on the surface. It would be well worth importing a centrifugal sorting machine into which a Martian front-end loader could pour gold-rich regolith. Deuterium is of a similar value and is easier to extract from Martian water than terrestrial water because of a six-fold enrichment factor. The Martian surface is littered with millions of tonnes of nickel-iron meteorites; the first asteroid mining will occur on its surface.

If uranium deposits are found, it might make sense, in the hamlet or village phase, to send to Mars either compact centrifugal separation equipment to concentrate the useful Uranium 235 isotope from the far less reactive U-238, or to send a small breeder reactor to Mars to convert U-238 to Plutonium. The transport of radioactive substances into space is one of the most controversial aspects of space flight in general and the Mars Direct project specifically, because of the perceived danger to the terrestrial environment if the rocket explodes. If Mars could provide the fuel for reactors, RTGs (radioactive heat sources for making electricity), and nuclear engines, then unfueled devices could be lifted to low earth orbit and fueled there. But the ability of a Mars base to supply uranium and plutonium is a function of how much the necessary tasks can be automated (to reduce the personnel necessary), how much the equipment’s weight and power demands can be reduced, how much money can be invested in the necessary technology, and how much the resulting technology can be declassified. Otherwise, Mars could have security agents and spies disguised as planetary geologists before it has policemen.

The final, obvious export Mars has is rocks. A search of the web reveals that right now Mars rocks recovered from Antarctica sell for hundreds of dollars per gram. If Mars rocks were flown to Earth and sold at the local mall for $25 for a one-ounce (25 gram) sample, and $10 made its way back to the Mars mission, and a million people worldwide bought such samples, then 25 tonnes of rocks would be needed and they would raise $10 million dollars. If fossils are ever found on Mars, a large fossiliferous rock outcrop could be chopped up and sent here and sold for possibly several times more.

C. Land. The sale of Martian land would be feasible as soon as Mars has a permanent settlement, and as the population and facilities there grow, demand for land will gradually increase. One psychologically important factor would be to develop “roads” on Mars as soon as possible. These need only be bulldozer tracks that push rocks aside and smooth the surface for wheeled vehicles. It would relatively simple to develop vehicles on Mars that can drive themselves down cleared roads, either navigating from barcoded pole to barcoded pole, or using image recognition software and an image of the entire route, or following the coordinates fed to it from a Mars global positioning system. Roads connecting stations to each other and to interesting geological sites would be the most intensively photographed sections of the planet, and thus if the land were sold, the owners would have access to images of their property. If land were sold for $1,000 per square kilometer, it would be possible for Mars enthusiasts to buy their own little corner of desert. Multinational corporations could spend millions and buy thousands of square kilometers. If owners had to pay an annual claim maintenance fee of $25 per square kilometer, the money could be used to provide them services or to pay for the hamlet’s budding school. Some of the residents in the Mars hamlet would devote their time to exploring the planet, with a priority given to purchased land so that the owners acquire more information about their property. If something valuable was found on someone’s land—say, exposed chunks of nickel-iron meteorite—those resources could be given priority for exploitation and the owners paid a royalty for them. While this approach costs money, it probably would generate more money than it costs, because people are more likely to buy something if they think they might get a return on it.

The ultimate right of a landowner is the voting right. As landowners begin to increase in number, it would make sense to create a second legislative body that they would elect. Thus a “Mars Council” would be elected by the residents, a “Mars Assembly” by the landowners. This approach again makes the ownership of Martian land attractive. If even small-scale owners have a vote, one has the potential to create a large, diverse, grassroots movement on Earth that supports Martian settlement. Individuals with great enthusiasm could buy their own square kilometer and vote. Those wishing to keep Mars red could buy a square kilometer and be heard. Multinational corporations could have one vote as well, and would be heard.

3. The Village. The village will develop when the various economic returns listed above gradually mature, developing a stronger financial basis for Martian settlement. The village will have something the hamlet and station might never have had—senior citizens, persons who arrived in their early adulthood, raised families, and remained. The village (population, 150-1,000) will be possible only if transportation costs continue to drop. The use of solid core nuclear engines could reduce the cost of flying hydrogen to low earth orbit from the moon, or an airbreathing, fully reusable single stage to orbit vehicle might have been developed. If launch costs to low earth orbit fall to the $100 to $200 per kilogram range, tourism to hotels in low Earth orbit will be possible for $50,000 to $100,000. Flights to the moon will drop under $1 million per passenger, meaning that rich tourists could go for a month at a time, and university professors teaching lunar geology could get research grants to spend their summer hiking around Tycho. One-way flights to Mars could drop to $2 million (150 tonnes of fuel would cost $30 million to put into orbit and a nuclear engine could use it to push a Habcraft with 24 people plus maybe forty tonnes of cargo to Mars), meaning faculty with large research grants and a two-year leave of absence could go to Mars, corporations wishing to develop a presence on the Red Planet could send teams, media conglomerates could send a journalist, and wealthy private settlers could be accepted.

One consequence is that the entire population, or the vast majority, would no longer be working for the sending agency, forcing new questions to arise: can corporations own their own property? What about individuals? Should residents be allowed to buy their apartments and sell them later to the highest bidder? Should individuals who paid their own way to Mars be charged income and property taxes? Should agency employees be allowed to quit, stay on Mars, and set up their own companies to mine minerals, raise crops, or provide services to other residents? Under what nation’s laws would they incorporate and sign contracts? If an individual wanted to stay on Mars permanently and wanted to fly up grandmother’s Steinway piano, how much should he or she be charged? Should antiquated agency equipment be sold to a resident who wanted to set up her own company? What if the aging equipment were a Mars shuttle and the person or company wanted to set up a private flight service to Phobos and Deimos? What currency should be used in the village store? What if someone wanted to open a competing store? If a Hollywood company wanted to shoot a movie on Mars, could agency employees moonlight as actors and extras? What if a family wanted to buy an old Hab and roll it 1,000 kilometers down Route 7, and settle way out in the wilderness, all by themselves? What if Denmark—or North Korea—wanted to fly up a dozen people to set up their own station? At what point should the village have its own public access cable television channel? How will health care and retirement costs be paid for? When will welfare and unemployment services be needed? At what point should one resident be allowed to sue another, requiring the establishment of a formal court? When will Mars need resident lawyers, heart surgeons, acupuncturists, a ballet troupe (whose dancing would be spectacular in Martian gravity), an intramural basketball league, a professional hair stylist, and an undertaker? Where will churches worship, and can they buy or build their own structures? When will Mars get its first McDonalds?

At the village level regulations and policies will proliferate. The job of Commander would be a full time. Possibly his/her appointment by the agency would have to be affirmed by the Mars Council and Assembly, or by popular vote. It seems inevitable that there will be private property, mortgages, taxes, health insurance, and a bank branch with ATMs. Consumer goods will still be rare and expensive, but a few will now be manufactured on Mars, and some of them might bear designer labels.

4. The Town. Expansion of the Mars population over 1,000 will require the establishment of a real economy. While Mars might still be receiving annual subsidies—probably of billions of dollars—it would also be exporting by the time it reaches the town phase. With automated manufacturing, a population of 1,000 could provide considerable support for asteroid missions. It might be providing occasional flights to Venus orbit and Mercury to ship fuel, cheap manufactured goods, and raw materials to stations there. A Venus orbital station studying that planet robotically and by remotely controlled aircraft and balloons might be growing their food and recycling their wastes in agricultural units using reprocessed regolith from Phobos. The Venus station might be accumulating water in the Venus clouds using solar powered aircraft, concentrating the deuterium—which is far richer on Venus than on Mars—then selling the deuterium to Earth. The Mercury station might be mining Helium 3 from the Mercury regolith, where it should be far more concentrated than in lunar soils, and the equipment it uses might be made on Mars and shipped via Phobos.

By the time Mars has a town, advanced nuclear or ionic propulsion will have reduced travel times and transportation costs further. It might be possible to send an item from the Earth to Mars for $100 per kilogram. Gaseous core nuclear engines or high-powered plasma engines might be able to fly to Mars in three months, wait a month, then fly back to Earth in three more months, making tourism, grant-funded individual scientific research, and the visits to Mars of medical specialists possible.

5. The Nation. It is difficult to say how many more steps would be necessary before a nation-state (or several nation states) emerge on Mars. Because of the extreme shortage of services, for a long time Mars will probably have a single large population center where the hospital, high school, bank, store, etc., are located. This argues in favor of the eventual emergence of a single nation. Alternately, if Earth’s age-old rivalries are transplanted to the Red Planet, a single central population concentration might not emerge; rather, separate American, European, Chinese, and perhaps Russian villages and towns could emerge, speaking their own languages and selling goods and services to each other. There is likely a relationship between financial self-sufficiency and independence; once the colonies begin to cover their own costs, independence becomes likely.

A nation state might be possible with only a few thousand people. When the Massachusetts Bay Company set out with less than a thousand settlers for New England in 1630, it was setting up a de facto independent settlement that was not brought under royal control for a generation. Cleverly, the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company—approved by the King—did not specify where the annual meeting of the stockholders would be held. Thus while wealthy English merchants owning shares in the Virginia Company met in London every year to select a governor of their private colony, the middle class Puritan small businessmen investing their life savings in the Massachusetts Bay Company boarded the ships themselves, sailed for Boston, and held their annual stockholders’ meeting there, and the company’s governor was elected by the colonists themselves. By 1640 religious persecution had driven 10,000 Puritans to New England, where they had imported America’s first printing press, established its first college, elected its first local and regional governments, and built an economic base on the export of codfish and foodstuffs to the Caribbean.

For Mars, a planet of unexploited mineral wealth and the promise of mineral wealth in the asteroid belts might provide a similar economic base. The promise of an entire planet of land to settle, the prospect of nearly free land, and mature technologies for reliably extracting water and oxygen from local resources could open much of Mars to settlement, and if relatively inexpensive transportation becomes available, millions could emigrate to Mars, just as they did to the Americas in the late nineteenth century. The steady development of economies of Earth may make it inevitable. If per capita productivity in the United States were to grow 3% per year—as it did in the 1990s--in twenty-four years Americans will be twice as wealthy in real terms as they are today; in forty-eight years, four times as wealthy; in seventy-two years, eight times as wealthy; in ninety-six years, sixteen times wealthier than they are today. As fantastic as this seems, Americans in 2000 are about sixteen times as wealthy as their grandparents were in 1900. Average national annual incomes of half a million dollars in current dollars may be seen by the end of this century. How many will want to save for a trip to Mars? How many parents might help their children buy a ticket for Mars as a graduation present? Only time will answer these questions.


#27 2002-01-25 11:32:59

Alexander Sheppard
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

Being an anarchist, I propose that we dissolve hierarchy on Mars as much as possible. Whereas Rob here has asked many questions, I will attempt to answer a few of them from what I percieve as the most beneficial answer.

As far as the government goes early on, before the 'town' stage which you list, it will almost certianly fall under a limited amount of control from the government in charge. Therefore I think it is pointless to argue for any sort of Martian government before the 'town' is developed.

On Mars, conditions will be tough. While it possible that colonization could proceed with typical capitalist excesses for the rich, it will make life harder for everyone, many times over than the same excesses do on Earth. Therefore I propose that corporations, in the usual sense of the word, should not be allowed to own property, and that the only collective organizations which should be allowed to own property are ones where everyone has an equal say about how wages are divied out, etc. Of course, such a system would have to conform to obvious realities. Someone working part-time for an hour a day over the internet would obviously have less vote [or perhaps no vote, depending on how permanent the job was] than someone working full-time 8 hours a day at a job site. However, generally such organizations would be democratic in nature. Of course, you would not want the police running around looking at the organization's files trying to decide whether it was run democratically or not. So a simple way to gurantee that things work is to say that everyone working for the corporation necessarily owns a share of the corporation more or less proportional to their job skills and contribution. Then everything else will work out naturally.

Obviously this system is, while less hierarchial than our present system, much more so than true anarchy. But in the 'town' phase, assuming one has to compromise with more conservative minded individuals, it seems reasonable.

If this is done, the burdens on the colony of supporting both welfare and, therefore, crime will be substantionally lessened. You don't want robbers running around in Mars colony. It is not a recipe for success.

More later.


#28 2002-01-26 02:04:26

From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

I apologize, but I don't completely understand. You note that conditions on Mars will be tough. In what sense? For example, when the Erie Canal, Transcontinental Railroad, and Panama Canal were built, conditions were tough; i.e., food was dangerous to eat, no one was treated for disease adequately, and thousands died of illnesses (especially on the two canals listed). But I doubt anyone will be eating rotten (literally) food on Mars, nor will there be huge problems with illnesses. Because of the potential media coverage such problems will receive, they will be avoided.

People will have to work hard, and there will be shortages of necessary items. But if a mining company on Earth wanted to open a Mars operation, the reaction wouldn't be to refuse the offer or confiscate the equipment after it arrived. Rather, the extra hands and equipment would be welcomed. And since the sending agency would be embedded in terrestrial culture, capitalism would be alive and well; in other words, refusal to allow capitalism on Mars would simply dry up the investment capital that will expand the place.

Do you see my confusion?

                       -- RobS


#29 2002-01-26 18:21:18

Alexander Sheppard
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

Well, let me add one thing before I start the message. This system of existance is, in my opinion, completely inferior to anarchy. Yet I am developing it as a compromise system to contend with existing realities, not because I think it is the best system.

Conditions on Mars will obviously face a whole new set of problems, ex. running out of air because your power cables just snapped, or dying because somebody just went psyco and cut a large hole in the dome.

Of course if a mining company were to start up on Mars, the extra hands would be welcomed, because it would be more beneficial to the colony to have the extra people there than not. However, what really makes no sense is to allow some people to own much more of a company than other people, because then you get some people just sitting back, wasting resources for the colony and others who are working their ass off, and all their labor is dumped into a big hole, which the other guy owns. Does that make sense? Is that beneficial? It really depends on the nature of the operation. Allowing limited amounts of nonsense in the beginning of the colony may be inevitable, but for everyone's benefit, it should be kept to a minimum and gotten rid of when the colony is more autarkic.


#30 2002-01-26 20:22:09

Josh Cryer
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

Well, I can see companies going to Mars starting mining operations, but I don't see them being able to be self sufficient, they'd still be relying on the inital colonists for many things. And the inital colonists (if they're smart) will insist on having equal capital, so yeah, that's the end of that.

So a law or a rule or whatever saying that no company can have property isn't really necessary, the colonists can simply use the situation to force the company to give them their capital. So in a way, a company will be better for colonists since they'll be able to barter to their advantage (the company will exploit resources and the colonists need only share their colony to obtain those resources- capitalism begs something for nothing and the colonists can use that).

It's not our fault the company will go bankrupt soon after. smile

I'm still not seeing how an exchange system between Earth and Mars could ever be possible. Perhaps you can profit from information (that is, you invent something on Mars, and sell the rights to the invention on Earth), but information should be free (as in freedom), for all of societies benefit. Any other type of resource exchange would be impossible from a time / energy perspective, it would simply cost too much.

Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.


#31 2002-01-27 16:42:27

Alexander Sheppard
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

It depends on how you are launching the materials. On Mars, getting stuff to orbit is very cheap compared to here on Earth, so the best plan is to go for SSTOs. The ideal would be some kind of nuclear rocket using the Martian atmosphere as propellant [I assume this would work by first sucking up Martian atmosphere, compressing and liquifying it, then heating it using the nuclear reactor and shooting it out]. Such a system could easily manage some economical exports. Combine it with technologies like cyclers, or solar or magnetic sails, or fusion, or whatever else you would care to throw in, and you've yourself some sort of profit that can be used to feed the colony.


#32 2002-01-28 10:50:07

Josh Cryer
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

I think the point I want to try to make about exchange between two heavenly bodies is relatively simple.

When we talk about the value of something we have to factor in two things (this is common sense- any child could come to this conclusion- but capitalism tends to miss it).

1) Time.
2) Expense (energy, effort, etc).

Thinking about the things on Mars, I cannot, for one momment, think of something that is more valuable not on Mars. (With the exclusion of ‘novality’ items; but this is a whole other ballpark and doesn't really pertain to ‘economics’ at all.)

Earth has plenty of resources. Shipping resources from Mars would cost way more than mining it locally on Earth, and the time involved in shipping would be considerably longer. Therefore, anything coming from Mars would cost more than anything acquired on Earth directly.

The asteroids, on the other hand, prove extremely useful. Not just to Earth, but to anywhere in the solar system reachable by solar sail (within the orbit of say, Jupiter). Mainly for their ablity to export minerals we have deficit in.

I see the first venus solar shade being build out of asteroids. smile

Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.


#33 2002-01-28 18:05:44

Alexander Sheppard
Registered: 2001-09-23
Posts: 178

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

Yes, anything produced on Mars will necessarily be a bit more expensive than that produced on Earth. But that in itself will make it somewhat desirable to the rich, at least assuming no drastic changes in human society by then. Martian wine! Martian rocks! Etc. And in items which are truly expensive for their mass, requiring large amounts of advanced manufacturing, the cost of shipping need not be so much a detriment as to make Martian goods uneconomical. After all, if you are paying thousands of dollars for a few pills to heal you, do you really care about a $10 shipping cost from Mars? After all, a bunch of medicine and its container is not likely to weight more than a twentieth of a kilogram.


#34 2002-06-13 01:47:59

Registered: 2002-06-12
Posts: 12

Re: Mars, Government, and Rights

Here is a Bill of Rights I came up with.  (Actually I stole alot from various sources, namely the constitution, the UN Declaration on Human Rights, and an interesting Consitution for a proposed state called "Oceania", which was a little bizarre for my tastes)  I have also published it online on
The Ares Concordant home page.  I welcome comments.

I   A Declaration of Rights

We declare and confirm that all Humans are born free and equal and are endowed with a certain dignity and with certain inalienable rights.  In order to protect and safeguard these rights, we list them here and forbid any Martian to abridge or infringe upon these rights.  Further there shall be no laws made that restrict these rights, except to protect the superior rights of others.  The rights given in this declaration shall apply in the order and precedence in which they are named.

1 Right to Equal Opportunity and Protection

Everyone, regardless of race, colour, sex, native language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or status, is entitled to equal treatment in terms of the rights and freedoms to which they are entitled. Furthermore, all are entitled to equal opportunity for employment and education, and to equal protection under the law.

No group based on race, colour, sex, religion, political organization, or nationality may be given preferential treatment in terms of employment, education, rights, or entitlement regardless of past discrimination, persecution or forced servitude.  Nor can any group based on these things be subjected to discriminatory treatment because of past discrimination, persecution, or forced servitude or others.

2 Right to Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press

Everyone has the right to practice any religion they may choose, or to practice no religion at all. All religions shall be considered equally valid provided there is at least one established body of people who practice it.  The right to practice a religion does not grant an individual the right to commit criminal acts.

Everyone has the right to speak freely without fear of arrest, censure, or fine regardless of whether others may find their words offensive. The right to free speech also applies to written and electronic forms of communication. No one shall abridge or diminish this right be they private citizen, business, employer, or the government.

3 Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of Person

Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person. No one has the right to kill except if they or another be in immediate jeopardy of losing their life. Furthermore everyone has the right to waive their right to life, and so to end their life or to permit someone to end it, and to engage in behavior them may endanger themselves, but not others.

To support the right to life, everyone has an entitlement to have access to the basic requirements of life, such as food, housing, clothing, and basic health care.  Any person (such as a child, or the disabled) not having access to these requirements shall be provided with them until such time as they can provide them for themselves. 

To support the right to security of person, everyone has the right to keep and bear weapons and arms except when the keeping or use of a weapon poses an unreasonable risk to others.  Weapons of mass destruction are specifically excluded from this right.

4 Right to Sovereignty

Everyone has the right to sovereignty over their body and what they do with it, or put on it. No one may, by exercising this right, endanger or infringe on the rights of another.

No one may be forced to tattoo, pierce, or mutilate their body or have their body tattooed, pierced, or mutilated, nor may they be forced to perform any sexual act, ingest any substance, wear any clothing or device, or submit to medical care.

Conversely everyone may, as they see fit, tattoo, pierce, mutilate, or alter their own body and may perform any sexual act, ingest any substance, wear any clothing or device, and submit to whatever medical care that they see fit.

5 Right to Freedom from Torture and Cruelty

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

6 Right to the Free Pursuit of Knowledge

Everyone has the right to pursue whatever knowledge or technology they desire so long as they do not endanger or infringe upon the rights of others.

7 Right to Marriage and to set the terms of Marriage

Everyone has the right to marry or to not marry whomever they wish and to set beforehand the terms of the marriage contract.  However, all such contracts must provide for the care of any offspring ensuing from the marriage.

8 Right to Procreate

Everyone has the right to procreate, or to choose not to.  Responsibility for the child ensuing from the procreation by default falls upon the biological parents of the child, but may be assigned to others by agreement either permanently or in whatever manner agreed upon. If assigned permanently, the biological parents no longer have any responsibility or interest in the child.

9 Right to Self-Government

The people have the right to govern themselves by direct vote wherever practicable, and where not practicable to invest in certain individuals whatever authorities and powers are not best served by direct vote.

10 Right to Peaceably Assemble

The people have the right to peaceably assemble.

11 Right to Travel

All Citizens have the right to travel and to immigrate and emigrate as they wish, although they may be detained briefly on immigration for purposes of determining citizenship. 

12 Right to Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest

No one shall be arrested or held against their will without having been charged with a crime or having been informed of what crime they are suspected of, and then for no more than 24 hours without being charged with a crime.

13 Right to Privacy

Everyone has the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, electronic media, and effects, against all searches and seizures without a warrant issued by a grand jury which has determined there to be probable cause supported by open affirmation made under penalty of perjury. Refusal to submit to a warrantless search may not be held to be probable cause for issuing a warrant.

To support their right to privacy, everyone has the right to use encryption to prevent unintended persons from reading or overhearing statements made to specific persons. The mere fact that encryption has been used may not be interpreted as evidence of wrongdoing.

14 Right to Full Access to Information and Knowledge

The people have a right to full knowledge of the activities of their Government, except for matters of colonial security that should remain secret.  A grand jury shall determine what information constitutes a matter of colonial security.

Further, everyone has the right to access any knowledge put into the public domain, broadcast on the public electromagnetic spectrum, or sent via the public Internet. This right does not restrict a person's right to privacy.

To support the right to full access to knowledge, everyone has the right to petition the their Government for disclosure of information.

15 Right to Property

Everyone has the right to own property, whether solely or jointly with others and to use it in any manner that they see fit.

No one may be deprived of the full use of their property through force or fraud nor may they be charged for the right to own property. They may not be forced to share their property with others nor to quarter others in their home.

A person's body and the fruits of their labor are their own property.

16 Right to Practice One's Chosen Profession

Everyone has the right to practice the profession of their choice without regard to whether or not they hold any license, certification, or specific education.  Of course, everyone has the right not to patronize or employ a person because they lack such license, certification, or education.

17 Right to the Opportunity for Useful Employment

Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable working conditions, and to have their work be useful.

No one may be deprived of their right to work because of race, colour, sex, religion, nationality, or their association or non-association with any political or other organization. 

Also, all persons are entitled to equal pay for equal work regardless of race, colour, sex, religion, nationality, or their association or non-association with any political or other organization. 

No one who is not a member of a labor union may be forced to accept a union contract.

18 Right to Free Enterprise

Everyone has the right to engage in any business they choose alone or in association with others and to form a corporate entity to govern the association. 

No one may be required to hold any license or permit to engage in any business so long as they do not endanger others.

19 Right to Justice

Everyone has the right to bring suit against any other person for crimes and misdemeanors committed against them and for acts violating their fundamental rights.

No person shall have immunity from such prosecution regardless of race, colour, sex, religion, nationality, diplomatic status, or their association or non-association with any political or other organization.

20 Right to the Presumption of Innocence

Everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.

No one may be held to be guilty of any crime, or misdemeanor on the basis of any fact or omission which did not constitute a crime, or misdemeanor at the time when it was committed nor may a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that applied at the time the crime, or misdemeanor was committed.

21 Right to Freedom from Unjust Prosecution

Everyone has the right to be free from unjust prosecution and frivolous and extortionate lawsuits.

To preserve this right, any person accused of a crime, or misdemeanor may bring a counter-suit of harassment and false arrest to be tried conjointly with the original suit, by the same jury.

22 Right to Freedom from Double Jeopardy and Self-Incrimination

No one may be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb for the same offense.

Everyone has the right not to incriminate themselves. 

Further a person's statements which were made before they had been charged with a crime or informed that they are suspected of a crime, whether verbal, written, or electronic, may not be used against them in a court of law, except where they were obtained pursuant to a warrant or the intended recipient of the statements present the evidence.

23 Right to a Timely and Public Trial by Impartial Informed Jury

All persons prosecuted for crimes and misdemeanors shall have the right to a timely and public trial by an impartial jury in a court with jurisdiction over the crime or misdemeanor.

24 Right to Face One's Accusers

All persons prosecuted for crimes and misdemeanors shall have the right to be present at trial, and to have all accusers and witnesses present, and to witness the verdict.

25 Right to Full Investigation

Any person bringing suit as the victim of a crime or misdemeanor shall have the right to hire someone to investigate the matter or to do so themselves. The accused has the right to have the findings of any investigation made available to them.

26 Right to Equal, Accessible Counsel

Everyone involved in prosecution for crimes and misdemeanors shall have the assistance of council for the prosecution and defense and to have free and confidential access to such counsel.  The cost of this counsel as well as all other court cost shall be borne by the loser.

27 Right to Judicial Review

All persons convicted of crimes or misdemeanors shall have the right to have the court record reviewed by a grand jury to determine is there is probable cause for the verdict to be appealed by a higher court.

A non-profit effort to establish  The Ares Concordant
a permanent, human colony
on Mars.                       


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