mikegarrison

Colonization Discussion Thread (split from SpaceX)

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Just now, tater said:

In other words some people will do some intellectual work that will have value on Earth. They will send it digitally to Earth, and make money. OK, that'll be what they do---until their intellectual work is replaced by AGI, lol.

They need not go to Mars to do that work, however, where they live is incidental, and if they don't stumble upon the next big intellectual work, then what, they starve?

You could have made the same argument about any colonization or exploration people have ever made in the past. And it would be wrong in almost every case.

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34 minutes ago, tater said:

Mars never becomes a trading partner with Earth, there is nothing they have that Earth needs.

I suppose if they somehow have money, then they buy stuff from Earth, and return money. However it is they get money.

 

Maybe there is gold on Mars? That is only way it could make people want to go there.

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5 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

You could have made the same argument about any colonization or exploration people have ever made in the past. And it would be wrong in almost every case.

Wrong. 

Colonists on Earth show up, and just live. The "New World" was only new to Europeans, people were already living here, and with far lower technology levels. Step off the boat, and you have a new home. Any place on Earth is easier than Mars, and even in the age of sail, mostly closer. In addition, people seem to forget that on Earth water has never separated people, it LINKS people. Water travel was faster and more efficient than land travel. It was THE way to move goods on Earth. In addition, the new world had resources that Europe lacked. Mars has nothing novel.

The idea that there is any economic reason for colonization of Mars is silly. You'll notice that Musk, a huge proponent of colonizing Mars, doesn't use that argument. His argument is that it's just cooler to live in that universe.That it's valuable for no reason, or "just because." Those are perfectly acceptable reasons. People build houses in odd places, just because it's cool.

Edited by tater

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1 minute ago, tater said:

Colonists on Earth show up, and just live. The "New World" was only new to Europeans, people were already living here, and with far lower technology levels. Step off the boat, and you have a new home. In addition, people seem to forget that on Earth water has never separated people, it LINKS people. Water travel was faster and more efficient than land travel. It was THE way to move goods on Earth. In addition, the new world had resources that Europe lacked. Mars has nothing novel.

The idea that there is any economic reason for colonization of Mars is silly. You'll notice that Musk, a huge proponent of colonizing Mars, doesn't use that argument. His argument is that it's just cooler to live in that universe.That it's valuable for no reason, or "just because." Those are perfectly acceptable reasons. People build houses in odd places, just because it's cool.

Agreed. We do not currently see people settling in large numbers in Antarctica. Antarctica is a much more reachable and hospitable place than Mars, and it has far more resources.

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Just now, mikegarrison said:

You could have made the same argument about any colonization or exploration people have ever made in the past. And it would be wrong in almost every case.

Well... actually, historically, most colonies were founded with short-term profit in mind. The only big exception I can think of is most of the original English colonies in North America, where the expectation of profit was so low that England didn't seriously try and pump them for revenue until over a century and a half after they were founded.

There are examples of colonies not founded for national profit, and history shows that model can work out quite well, but they are the exception in the colony game rather than the rule.

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2 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Agreed. We do not currently see people settling in large numbers in Antarctica. Antarctica is a much more reachable and hospitable place than Mars, and it has far more resources.

It's also protected by international treaty.

(As is Mars, actually. But presumably that detail would be worked out.)

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"The future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we are a spacefaring civilization and a multi planet species than we are not. You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is gonna be great, and that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about." -Elon Musk (last night)

This is his rationale, not that Martians will be awesome trading partners.

Edited by tater

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5 minutes ago, tater said:

Wrong. 

Colonists on Earth show up, and just live.

Not usually. Vinland is more the usual case if a colony is set up without any real support from back home. Polynesia, however, does seem to be an example that would support your idea.

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2 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

I understood his point. But like I just said above, details matter.

That's exactly why his claim that he can do suborbital flights for the same price per ticket as a coach seat in an airplane is screwy. Details matter, and he's glossing over a heck of a lot of them.

I'm not sanguine about point to point rocket travel, but the BFS (whatever they call it) doesn't need all that tankage for P2P. It could hold 800 people in orbital fit out, minus most of the tankage (it needs very little, the booster does the work), it could likely hold many more. If the marginal cost is (total vehicle cost/total flights)+fuel cost, then it might well only cost a couple million (or less) to fly a trip. That's well into long-haul ticker prices/seat.

1 minute ago, mikegarrison said:

Not usually. Vinland is more the usual case if a colony is set up without any real support from back home. Polynesia, however, does seem to be an example that would support your idea.

All of North America. And South America. The major negative factor (for people indigenous to both sides) was in fact disease. Minus new diseases, anyone landing someplace not a wasteland was just fine, and even many of those places were colonized. It's not even slightly comparable to Mars.

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18 minutes ago, Cassel said:

Maybe there is gold on Mars? That is only way it could make people want to go there.

I'm sure there is gold on Mars. And there are volcanoes, so probably some of it is near the surface. But most of the easily collectible gold on Earth was concentrated and deposited by water, so one would have to look for Martian gold in old riverbeds and lakebeds and such.

One issue is that it is generally assumed most of the gold on the Earth when it was formed is still in the core. Gold found near the surface is mostly assumed to have arrived after the Earth formed a crust. Then it was moved around and concentrated by water. The question would be, how long ago did Mars have an active water cycle?

6 minutes ago, tater said:

I'm not sanguine about point to point rocket travel, but the BFS (whatever they call it) doesn't need all that tankage for P2P. It could hold 800 people in orbital fit out, minus most of the tankage (it needs very little, the booster does the work), it could likely hold many more. If the marginal cost is (total vehicle cost/total flights)+fuel cost, then it might well only cost a couple million (or less) to fly a trip. That's well into long-haul ticker prices/seat.

No it's not. You think it costs a couple million to fly a single A380 trip?

You just gave a best-case scenario assuming all kinds of advantages for the rocket, and you still came up with a number that is not competitive with an airplane. The market for this would be like the Concorde. It would be limited to people who were willing to pay a hefty premium either for the speed or just for the experience.

Edited by mikegarrison

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11 minutes ago, tater said:

"The future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we are a spacefaring civilization and a multi planet species than we are not. You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is gonna be great, and that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about." -Elon Musk (last night)

This is his rationale, not that Martians will be awesome trading partners.

Well, being a multiplanetary species is more than just "cool". It can save us from some cataclysmic event. Or overpopulation. Doesn't always have to be economically feasible.

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7 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

I'm sure there is gold on Mars. And there are volcanoes, so probably some of it is near the surface. But most of the easily collectible gold on Earth was concentrated and deposited by water, so one would have to look for Martian gold in old riverbeds and lakebeds and such.

One issue is that it is generally assumed most of the gold on the Earth when it was formed is still in the core. Gold found near the surface is mostly assumed to have arrived after the Earth formed a crust. Then it was moved around and concentrated by water. The question would be, how long ago did Mars have an active water cycle?

Earth is an oddball because of the collision with Theia that formed our moon. The distribution of heavy metals and crust and core is all wonky.

Mars lost its magnetic field because convection in its core died. Our core is vastly heavier and will continue to do the dynamo for many millions of years. 

2 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

Well, being a multiplanetary species is more than just "cool". It can save us from some cataclysmic event. Or overpopulation. Doesn't always have to be economically feasible.

Well, it DOES have to be economically feasible, even if the economics just means selling an idea. 

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2 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Well, it DOES have to be economically feasible, even if the economics just means selling an idea. 

If it did,  the Apollo program would never happen. Or Sputnik. Or any space exploration at all. 

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7 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

Well, being a multiplanetary species is more than just "cool". It can save us from some cataclysmic event. Or overpopulation. Doesn't always have to be economically feasible.

What event would make Earth less habitable than Mars though?

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3 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

Alien invasion!

But seriously, there are plenty of those. Consider the Florence asteroid for example.

Sorry but even after an Asteroid impact you could still walk around the Earth without a spacesuit. There is nothing short of the complete resurfacing of the Earth that would make life on Mars favourable.

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10 minutes ago, Canopus said:

Sorry but even after an Asteroid impact you could still walk around the Earth without a spacesuit. There is nothing short of the complete resurfacing of the Earth that would make life on Mars favorable.

Many of the American Colonies were founded to escape religious or political persecution, I suspect that many would be willing to pay to escape persecution, real or perceived.

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4 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

Well, the dinosaurs were probably wiped out by an enormous asteroid strike. Too bad they didn't reach Mars in time!

Dinosaurs weren't exactly known for their Bunkers and central heating. Look i'm all for a Mars settlement, but saying we need one as a backup for earth is just not true. By the time Mars is Terraformed to be as survivable as Antarctica, we can most likely predict dangerous asteroids for hundreds of years in the future and divert them.

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7 minutes ago, Canopus said:

Dinosaurs weren't exactly known for their Bunkers and central heating. Look i'm all for a Mars settlement, but saying we need one as a backup for earth is just not true. By the time Mars is Terraformed to be as survivable as Antarctica, we can most likely predict dangerous asteroids for hundreds of years in the future and divert them.

Doesn't have to be climate-related. What if some virus or bioweapon spreads out of control and kills every human on Earth?

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5 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

Doesn't have to be climate-related. What if some virus or bioweapon spreads out of control and kills every human on Earth?

Well yeah i give you that one. Although what would be the difference then between a Hermetically sealed Habitat on Mars rather than one Earth? 

Edited by Canopus

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9 minutes ago, Canopus said:

Well yeah i give you that one. Although what would be the difference then between a Hermetically sealed Habitat on Mars rather than one Earth? 

Ok, I give up. Looks like the only reliable doomsday scenario left is alien invasion. 

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@CanopusThe idea is not, I think, "disaster on Earth so let's evacuate survivors to Mars," the idea behind a self-sustaining Martian colony is more "disaster on Earth and the survivors are now figuratively and literally eating each other, but on Mars, life goes on." 

The damage on earth wouldn't have to make it less hospitable than Mars, just unable to support even a fraction of the population at the time. Such a thing would likely occur suddenly, thereby not leaving time for mass adjustments to lifestyles. 

Mars is a lifeboat, in this concept. 

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Let's face it, someone's going to do it Just For Because™ while the people back home fling poo at each other over whether it's economically or technologically feasible. Next thing you know we've got a Mars colony and we're in a war with asteroid miners for their Independence®.

Edited by regex

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24 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

@CanopusThe idea is not, I think, "disaster on Earth so let's evacuate survivors to Mars," the idea behind a self-sustaining Martian colony is more "disaster on Earth and the survivors are now figuratively and literally eating each other, but on Mars, life goes on." 

The damage on earth wouldn't have to make it less hospitable than Mars, just unable to support even a fraction of the population at the time. Such a thing would likely occur suddenly, thereby not leaving time for mass adjustments to lifestyles. 

Mars is a lifeboat, in this concept. 

In theory, a self-sustaining Antarctic colony would be just as good a lifeboat as Mars can be, in this scenario. Would be much easier to set up, too.

Edited by sh1pman

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7 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

In theory, a self-sustaining Antarctic colony would be just as good a lifeboat as Mars can be, in this scenario. Would be much easier to set up, too.

Except the 6 months of darkness for growing your food. :wink: And before you say, I would argue that for the foreseeable future it is far easier to get a functioning nuclear power plant to Mars than Antarctica if you want grow lamps. 

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I just got a great idea how a Moon colony can be profitable. Set up a top-security prison there and send world's most dangerous criminals there. Governments would pay to keep them hundreds of thousands of kilometers away from Earth, where there's literally nowhere to run.

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