Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First Landing: the precursor mission

60 colonist on mars in two missions would indicate we are serious about colonization providing a real shot at an independent ISRU industrial ecology. I'm thinking about updating my second mission. This post is an update of landing the first dozen in light of my realizations concerning the Sundancer.

I haven't seen any published numbers on Sundancer's cost but I'm going with $100m to orbit based on the BA330 being $200m to orbit (the BA330 requires the FH. The Sundancer, discontinued but should be reconsidered, only requires the F9.)

A mission of a dozen colonists would require 2 Sundancers (6 crew ea., upgraded from life support for 3) and 3 landers (4 crew ea.) The landers would be prepositioned in mars orbit for $190m ea.

The upper stage of the F9 would be integrated on the ground with the Sundancer to form a ship once in orbit. Crew and fuel would go in 4 separate launches (2 F9 crew, 2 FH fuel) for a cost of about $450m. We would also want to preposition supplies on the surface of mars for $190m ea.

So: $570m for three landers, $200m for two Sundancers, $450m for crew, supplies and fuel, and perhaps another $660m for four prepositioned supplies. Total cost for first landing: $1.98b for twelve (let's call it $2b) which is quite an improvement over Mars One's $6b for four.

This would include over 16mt of supplies on the surface of mars to get the colony started. This would include one tractor (1.5 mt, to be assembled) and two low mass tow vehicles (0.25mt ea., w/ trailer and life support tent.) They would use the life support of landers while using the tractor to build habitats and eight or more farms. They will need at least 20 [Zubrin 50m hobby] farms before the second mission arrives.

This is $166m per colonist or $332 per acre recovery cost. Which is not bad for a first mission which is likely to be the most expensive of them all.

Update: I just remembered that Larry Page suggests he’s willing to put up $2b (under some circumstance.) Suppose we make him the founding member of the space settlement charter? He would be entitled to 12,000 sq. km. of mars after the first dozen land. Would that be the right circumstance Larry?

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