Saturday, May 17, 2014

What changes after first landng?

Imagine we have a dozen colonists living on mars at whatever cost it took to get them there. Suppose the cost to get more gets close to $5m per person.

The Russians charge us $71m per astronaut to LEO and will stop in 2020. Dragon should cost $20m per person the same as it cost Dennis Tito to take his little vacation.

$5m to mars would be a game changer but having people living on mars also puts enormous political pressure to support them. So even if selling land pays for many new colonists, low cost will mean that many others will simply pay the ticket price to ride along with the permanent colonists. This would include govt. and university employees looking to do research.

That first landing will change two worlds.

Update: Another thing that changes a lot is my revised plan (see previous post) which now unties each colonist from 1000 sq. km. of land. Instead after any arrive on mars they can do all the claiming (in the name of the Mars Colony Trust) to provide land for all future colonists. Get just one colonist to mars would do this (but more are recommended for other reasons.)

While a standard plot is 2000 sq. m. (40m x 50m); 100 sq. m. (10m x 10m) for $35 ($25 + $10 under 1000 sq. m. fee. because utility goes below 86.4% below 1000.)

27 sections (100m x 320m) will fit in a single sq. km. with 10m wide perimeter and interior roads.

A single colonist should be able to claim 100 sq. km. (four corners at a time) in a single day (assuming the procedure is simple enough and why I continue to argue for the boot print method.)


C J said...

The Russians may stop giving us rides to ISS well before 2020. Actually, the most recent Russian comments, though not backed by official notification of NASA, indicate that they have already stopped. (Rogazin's suggestion to NASA that if it wanted to get Astronauts to ISS, buy a trampoline).

It's also worth noting that at the moment, there is just one US astronaut on ISS.

A further item of interest; the Russians are currently selling tourist tickets to ISS (this includes a week's stay on ISS) for 50 million. They're launching one of these in a couple of months. If there is a market for space tourism to ISS for 50 million a seat, and there is, I feel safe in saying that a trip to Mars would be even more lucrative.

However, tourism, like many of the impacts you mention, only works if there's a return capability. A one-way no-return-option colony (the Mars One concept) would preclude most of these.

I'm working on my concept of a very cheap way of getting that capability, keeping costs and upmass for a permanent ISRU-based system within the range of one tourist-to-ISS. (the post is almost done) but I'm lacking one key part at the moment; getting from Mars orbit to Earth. I'm assuming that there would be a habitat in orbit (from the earth-mars transit) but would it have a reentry vehicle? If not, that's fixable, but I'd need to know that in order to work out the delta/v budget. If you don't know, I'll assume there wouldn't be one and plan accordingly.
(I'm also assuming that my Mars ascent concept would need to also supply the means for the needed delta/v to push the hab plus RV through the TEI burn).

And meh, one of the delays was figuring out how to make monomethyl hydrazine on Mars easily, and with a low-mass system. It turned out that going to an older process was they key, as was Ammonia, which you're going to need for other things anyway.

I'm in full agreement with you regarding what changes after first landing; basically, everything.

ken_anthony said...

I was thinking a sundancer class vehicle would return on hall thrusters but that would be too slow for human return. I also assume the vehicle stays in orbit (perhaps skipping through the atmo to slow down) and meets up with a Dragon.

You also have to consider supplies for the return trip.

C J said...

A sundancer class hab would work fine for what I have in mind.

When it arrives at Mars, any reason why it'd need to enter LMO (Low Martian Orbit) instead of a Mars orbit with low perigee but very high apogee (basically like that Indian Mars probe, MOM). It can aerocapture into that orbit (you don't need a heatsheild for that). And from that orbit, there's little to no difference for the descending landers.

For the supplies for the return trip, I'm thinking mostly ISRU for food, water, and O2.

I think I have what I need now. Expect a long-winded post by mid-week. :)