Saturday, September 13, 2014

Iron sharpens iron one person sharpens another. - Proverbs 27:17

Chances are, things are not going to be right with the first iteration. Refinement is very often required. Starting with sound principles you can, in time, end up with good results. That's my hope with my mars plan. I want to modify it until it works.

I'm reminded of Joe Pesci's character in 'My Cousin Vinny.'

Lisa (Marisa Tomei): ...So what's your problem?
Vinny: My problem is, I wanted to win my first case without any help from anybody.
Lisa: Well, I guess that plan's moot.
Vinny: Yeah.
Lisa: You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else's help. Right? You win case, after case, - and then afterwards, you have to go up somebody and you have to say- "thank you"! Oh my God, what a fuckin' nightmare!

Anyway, what this is all leading up to is analysis of Rand's walk down memory lane (Rethinking the Vision.)

He writes why we should go into space... The United States should become a spacefaring nation, and the leader of a spacefaring civilization.

I would say instead... Humans with liberty should extend into the universe.

Because I think it's about humanity and not just one political entity and spacefaring means nothing without liberty. Leave human enslavement back on earth where it has its home. You do that with strong property rights. Nobody can take from another without their consent in free trade. The greater good can't be used as a moral justification for theft (even just a tiny bit.) His formulation includes the concept of leadership which mine fails to. Leadership is certainly important. So mine does need refinement somehow but it's where I would start. I'd like to end up with something inspiring.

Absolutely yes to: affordable and massively parallel ... development. ... We need to think in terms of wealth creation

[UPDATE: Absa-fukin-tootly right... it needed more emphasis.]

Absolutely right, and how does wealth happen? With ownership and free trade. That's why my plan starts with every martian a millionaire. Let's not get stuck on why mars. It's just one of all other destinations. Our goal is the entire universe starting with our solar system. Mars is about precedent.

We arrange it so settlers get a free ticket and arrive with enough resources to follow their dreams. Because of the high cost of travel, all their personal property comes with a mass surcharge. It competes with the cost of buying something from earth. This is potential wealth. All the colonists have to do is choose their personal property so that some of it holds its wealth long enough to be valuable as trade goods over time. This means their free travel ticket must include enough mass to do this. I believe just 1000 kg will be enough (having a mass surcharge value of about $1000/kg.) This also negates the need for separate supply missions and that cost.

[UPDATE: Using $150m for 2500 kg would be $60k/kg so $1000/kg is more than reasonable. Who's going to buy it? Anybody whose alternative is to get it from earth. The possessions should be chosen carefully with that in mind. If you're thinking that wealth doesn't exist on mars to buy any of it, you're thinking incorrectly. Over time it certainly will be. You're still a millionaire no matter how much time it might take to sell assets you own. They also will have land that will appreciate over time and faster by their own, on site, actions.]

The wealth of the universe must be distributed among humans and not governments to avoid enslavement. This is a moral imperative. We need to do this right from the start.

The assets exist. Since they have no current value there should be no fight over them (except from those already wanting to keep this wealth from anybody.) We use existing, worthless real estate to pay the ticket for every colonist that wants to go. Thanks to Mars One, we know that at least 200,000 want to go to mars. It's worthless now but has potential future value with that development Rand mentioned. Development is how to create value. It only happens after assets are claimed and start to be traded. It is a moral imperative. It would be a crime against humanity not to make these assets part of human wealth.

You are a dreamer Rand. Am I not as well? Is my dream foolish because it's not your dream? Is my dream a fuckin' nightmare?

This is my challenge to you Rand. Be Iron. Be specific. Sharpen and refine my dream with your criticism. It is my respect and admiration for your intelligence and perception that I ask.

What to criticize first? Let's start with the price tag. I set the price at 25 cents a square meter with an additional $10 for any lot less than 1000 sq. m. The smallest lot is 100 sq. m. for $35. The preferred lot is 2000 sq. m. for $500. Will enough people pay this? Once in peoples hands (only after the land has been claimed and deeds issued) it would of course reach it's own level of value through trade.

My opinion is they will. It doesn't matter if others think it's a bad deal. If my opinion is wrong we change it to what does work. 14 billion hectares is a lot of square meters and a lot of money even at a penny each. The trade off being there is actually too much land for too few buyers (assuming not all the billions of us want to buy.) Which is why we must value it higher to start off.

This isn't a con. That land will become valuable and faster with more colonists sooner. Four every two years is not fast enough. Free travel and a million dollars when you land should create land rush. This beats paying for one of four chances to go at a rate that would take 100 years to accomplish.

That mass surcharge value is real and better the higher the cost to go. We can take advantage of this fact. All it requires is that we insure that each ticket to ride includes a good and reasonable mass allotment. Setting up a trust for buying tickets insures this.

We need to bypass the monolithic government space agency with blitzkrieg. We don't fight for their attention and funds, we ignore them. Blitzkrieg worked in part because it was a new mind set.

Low marginal costs mean that as demand for a service grows, the price can drop rapidly.

What is the marginal cost with my plan? How much does it cost to add one more colonist?

The MCT is in the right direction (it's only one direction among other possibilities) because although it cost more overall it lowers the cost per colonist. But whatever plan we choose, costs go down with more frequent travel of more people.

High marginal costs will forever constrain the level of activity that’s possible.

Which is not the same as high costs and a good thing because cost is liable to remain high no matter what we do. But getting marginal costs down can and should happen. Four colonists every two years is not going to do it. We do not and should not wait hundreds of years to eventually get the clue. That's lost opportunity cost.

The only reliable way to lower marginal costs is to pursue full reusability.

Which requires different vehicles for each leg of the trip. The orbit to orbit general purpose ship should be the easiest and cheapest vehicle. A SSTO martian lander should happen eventually but just landing is the trick today. The F9, FH and Dragon 2 will soon take care of the first leg (to anywhere.) Hopefully SpaceX will get some real competition and that will become just another airline ticket.

The critical requirement of a reusable space system is refuelability.

This is so obvious that not getting it is an intelligence test (political agendas and intelligence not being compatible.) But not hydrogen for now. Methane and LOX. YMMV. Depots yes, but first comes refueling itself. Just being able to refuel a ship greatly expands our options and takes nothing away from the (no brainer) argument for depots.

A person might reasonably object that refueling makes no difference.

I admire your rhetorical jiu jitsu Rand, but we both know it's the reasoning of a dunce.

us[ing] the Moon as a steppingstone to other destinations.

When it's not a distraction that prevents us from getting to other destinations. Economics should decide. Being able to use the moon will take time and expense. Of course the moon will eventually become part of the entire economic sphere. Let all pursue their dreams.

Will it be safe to trust our precious astronauts to private launchers?

Yes. Next question.’s future in space is too important to be left to NASA.

Or any government entity. Period. Full stop.

Once you let that camels nose in the tent you've already lost. It's just a matter of time. That's why strong property rights matter right from the start. Our founders fought over a tea tax. Wouldn't you like to pay just that tea tax now?

NASA should have planned on going to the Moon with the launch vehicles it had and not those it wanted to have.

We can go to mars now with the Falcon Heavy and Red lander. Now, today, because it's a process that takes time. These vehicles will be ready during that time. Mars One already has them on its critical path for a reason. They take existing technology as central to their plan. The lander and LV are not yet operational. They are the closest to being so.

...we need to open up the new space frontier the way the old American frontier was opened.

A thousand times yes. This means resources in the hands of the dreamers. Every martian a millionaire.


Ed said...

My great-great grandfather was a pioneer in the Edmonton, Alberta area. Back in the early 1890's the land didn't have much value, and the small group of settlers in the area used to use the deeds when playing poker; after one particular hand G.G.Grandpa owned the entire river valley, today worth tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. His farm is long gone, and great grandpa's was expropriated by the city when I was a kid; what was once crops is now tens of billions of dollars worth of roads, sewers, electrical and natural gas and fiber optic networks, houses, car dealerships, a freeway, a mall, a school, the list goes on.

There are parallels to the early settlement of western Canada and your proposed Mars settlement. However, there are some notable differences. For one, the chain of ownership was pretty clear: the government of Canada granted land to great-great-grandpa under certain terms, which included improvements to the land. The Canadian government had acquired the land by way of treaty with the native population. You, on the other hand, are looking to create the native population of Mars.

When the Siberians were settling North America, nobody on the other side of Eurasia knew they even existed, much less cared what they were doing. If your idea is successful, the first colonists will have the eyes of the whole world on them, many protesting. It's a tough road.

ken_anthony said...

Thank you for your thoughts Ed. They are appreciated.

Some things about the future are hard to see. Others are not because they're written in our past. Some people can't read. I am encouraged by those like you that can.

Those first colonist are going to have a blast. Every thing they do on that world will be a first.