Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. Is that beneficial?

Musk, the company’s CEO and chief engineer, refers to his mutual ambitions more like a sci-fi hero with an ethical calling than an entrepreneur with a disruptive business plan.

The last space program that came close to Musk’s ambitions of interstellar travel was NASA’s Apollo program, a mid-20th century effort that landed six spacecraft and 12 astronauts on the moon. Apollo costs more than $ 280 billion in today’s dollars, and in a few years, NASA was taking more than 4% of the entire national budget. The space agency, which has received less than one percent of the federal budget in recent years, is mapping its plans to return humans to the moon and, ultimately, the path to Mars.
But the agency has not indicated how much the latter may cost.

Musk’s personal wealth has been reduced by nearly $ 100 billion – at least on paper – in no small part to a series of stock bonuses from his electric car company, Tesla. Musk has also said repeatedly that he expects profits from other businesses in SpaceX, including a satellite-Internet venture that is currently in beta testing, to help fuel development of their Mars rockets. SpaceX has also raised about $ 6 billion from banks and venture capitalists, one of the most valuable private companies in the world according to data firm Pitchbook. Presumably, at least some investors will be looking for cash out one day.

And this raises the question: Is money to be made on Mars?

mutual benefit

SpaceX is still many, a Mars colony will require all technology development for many years. The company is in the early stages of developing its starship, a large-scale rocket and spaceship system that Musk expects to ferry people’s cargo and convoys to at least 30 million-miles between Earth and Mars. Will cross Musk has estimated the development of the starship would cost $ 10 billion, and Musk said on August 31 that SpaceX would look to launch “hundreds” aboard the starship before handing it over with human life.

If it proves capable of Mars, the settlers will need air-tight habitat to protect them from poisonous air and rain deadly radiation on its surface.
A prototype of the SpaceX starship is featured on September 28, 2019 at the Texas launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Musk said. “Good chance you’ll die, and it’s going to be tough … It would be better if it worked.”

NASA’s Mars Exploration Program chief scientist Michael Mayer said that for the first 100 years since humans have a presence on Mars, the economic situation would be questionable, having recently launched a Robustness rover to study the planet.
SpaceX and NASA end a bitter culture to bring back American astronaut launches
Musk has a plan to make Mars an attractive destination for long-term stays: terraforming, a fictional landscape in which humans create Mars like the Earth by putting gases into the atmosphere. This would be an attempt to use the same greenhouse gases that would make the climate of Mars thicker, warmer and more hospitable for life due to the climate crisis on our home planet. Musk has promoted the idea that this process can be stopped Drop atomic bomb on the planet.

The idea of ​​terraforming originated from scientists who were revolving around ideas, Meyer said, but not from someone who thought it was something humans should or should do.

“It was an intellectual practice,” Mayer said. But there is hardly any oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars. And there is a small amount of water, which means that crops will be extremely difficult to grow, making very little Mars-wide water cycle. It is also unclear whether there are sufficient resources on Mars to make terraforming possible.

In a photo Musk posted on his Instagram, SpaceX had a & quot;  Ocupai mars & quot;  T-shirt.

“I think ‘Total Recall’ has the right idea,” he joked. “You will need to use some foreign technology.”

Musk has also acknowledged that terraforming will be extremely resource-intensive. But this concept is entangled in SpaceX lore, so much so that the company sells T-shirts saying “Nuke Mars” and “Occupy Mars”.

Musk is often seen wearing one.

Value and value

Meyer said that there are no known resources on Mars that would be valuable and sell back to earth businesses. “Part of the reason [scientists are] Mars is interested in it – it is made of the same stuff as Earth, ”he told CNN Business.

Musk has previously suggested that they agree, noting that resources on Mars would likely only be valuable to settlers hoping to build industry on the planet. He noted eight years ago that the only “economic exchange” between Mars and Earth inhabitants would be intellectual property.
Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, has days that are as long as the Earth's days.  But it is a small planet, with an average temperature of -81 degrees Fahrenheit, and its atmosphere is very thin and contains mostly carbon dioxide.

Money making ambitions aside, the idea that Mars could one day become the home of a metropolis and – possibly – a tourist destination is accepted by mainstream scientists such as Mayer, NASA’s leading Mars expert.

Mayer said that, 20 years ago, he attended a presentation about Mars business and tourism. “I was so confused about this … and coming I was thinking, ‘Okay, [there are] There are some very reasonable ideas, “he said, adding that he now embraces the idea that businessmen can make space travel more accessible.

The mayor said that in his mind it’s not if Mars journey will one day be a profitable venture, but When.

Musk has not expanded on his ideas for making money on Mars, but his ideas about exporting intellectual property resonate with a book written by Robert Zubrin, an influential but polarizing figure in the space community and a Musk is a longtime ally.

“The idea could be another potential export for colonizers of Mars,” Zubrin, head of the Mars Society, wrote in his 1996 book, “The Case for Mars”.

To look towards humanity’s potential future, Zubrin looks at his past.

“Just as colonial and 19th-century labor shortages created America’s Yankee Ingenuity flood of inventions, so would the state of extreme labor shortages … drive the Martian ingenuity.”

In a recent interview with CNN Business, Zubrin stood with views that argue that American colonialism has worked. Zubrin again returns to the colonization of North America, as an example of how the colonists of Mars could fund their voyages, either to fund the voyage or by liquidating their earthly possessions by “inspired service” .

“If you say, well, you want to go to Mars, you want to offer something,” Jubrin said. “If you look at colonial America, a middle class person can travel to the US by liquidating their farm. But, the income will give them a one-way ticket. But if you are working, what you can do, That is to sell your labor. Seven years. ”

Zubrin, who has worked with conservative think tanks, but says he is not politically affiliated, also acknowledged that colonies could run side by side with exploitation: “If someone says, ‘But there Will not be exploited? ‘ Well sure, that’s what people do for each other all the time. ”

(Musk has not elaborated on his ideas about colonialism, and he donates to both American political parties.)

To be clear: the story of American colonialism also included chattel slavery and the brutality and abolition of many local populations.

“Zubin said,” the native are not Martians.

But Damian Williams – a teacher and PhD student at Virginia Tech who studies the intersection of advanced technologies, ethics and societies – warns that we can expose ourselves to America and discover outer space.

    A prototype of SpaceX's spacecraft has been seen at the company's launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas on September 28, 2019 in Texas.
It is still unclear, for example, who first imagines musk as the inhabitants of Mars. NASA astronaut? The most wealthy thrill seeker? Employees of SpaceX?
“This competitive approach to expansion and exploration is not necessarily a bad thing,” said Williams, who works with the advocacy group Just Space Alliance. But, when it comes to using resources from a private company that international treaties say no one has – “Who is brought in and how? Who is left out and why? These things matter.” Huh.”

The use of the word “colonized” by Musk assumes a long history of Americans and other Westerners who enrich themselves by exploiting and enslaving others. And when it comes to colonizing another planet, it is not just the microorganism lifeform that can exist on Mars that should be related. Without clearly defined objectives and agreements, SpaceX’s colony “can remain a controversial area of ​​conflict,” Williams said.

“The values ​​that are with us in space exploration should be front and center,” he said.

SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment for this story.


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