Futurism: Mars Part 1

In this post, I am going to talk about what I think will happen to the colony of Mars and how that will effect the story world that I developed.

First. Some information about Mars.

Mars is cold. Duh. It also has a very small atmosphere with no magnetosphere. Meaning that the solar wind has stripped the planet of its atmosphere over the course of a billion or so years. It also has no air pressure and is regularly blasted with solar radiation.

Mars does have water on it. Very important. It was also wet at some point in its history. Meaning that it was warm at one point.

The first colonists settle on the surface of mars in pre-fab shelters. They do bring with them very sophisticated 3D printers so that they can manufacture items from the resources that Mars provides.

There goal at this point is self-suffencincy. How do they provide all of there needs without relying on Earth. The trip from Earth opens up only once every two years to get help. We have all seen ‘The Martian”. If not, go see it. That is probably the most accurate dipection of what living on Mars would be like. It does get some stuff wrong, but it is a movie. Forgive it.

After nearly a decade of work and a population nearing a hundred colonists, the colony still hasn’t reached self-sufficiency. It’s corporate backers, are getting worried. They had planned for a span of 15 years before they could start sending resources back to Earth. Now 10 years was up and they had still not gotten close.

They have a stockpile of food and water. Oxygen tanks full of breathable air and shelter for there current population.

The problem with the situation is that they are having a problem of building new structures to house new colonists, or expand food production, or to build anything. They are having to spend a large amount of resources and time to build the structures to be radiation proof. The lack of the planet’s magnetosphere is the source of the problem.

How is that a problem with self-sufficiency? Population of a settlement without anyone from the outside should be at a large enough number to be viable. Scientist call this minimum viable population. It is usually used for wild animals, but it works for space colonies as well.

If the colony doesn’t get to at least 2000 people, then there is a risk of genetic issues as the generations roll by. Without the additional people they will not have the manpower to start sending resources back to Earth for profit.

The colony discovers some caverns nearby. These caverns are spread out over the course of a thousand square kilometers and some go deep into the Martian crust. They discover that the Martian crust shields the caverns from solar radiation.

The colonists decide to move the colony from the surface to the caverns. They decide to live underground.

The caverns allow for the construction of the colony to happen at a faster pace. Each piece of the structure needs less material as it is only holding in the pressure for people to live and not keeping radiation out.

The colony expands exponentially. The population shoots up and by the year 20, the colony has it’s 2000 people.

Then its population really expands. With the invention of a magnetic launcher, the cost of space travel drops to about $500 per kg. That open’s up space travel for more people. Nations finally get off there butt, other corporations are founded, and the single Mars colony become 12 separate colonies each with it’s own backer.

I will leave the history lesson here. But the main question is, how does this affect my story that takes place a few hundred years from now?

And the answer is absolutely nothing. It will never show up on the page. The only thing that it does is that it creates the culture and people of Mars. You will see some similar aspects that will distinctly shape the people until the time of my stories.

That part does have a big deal in the present date of my story world.

I will stop there for today. Tomorrow I will go through some of the different aspects of Martian Culture that is adopted over the years and some of the details on the changes to the colony.

Futurism: Part Two

In part one, I talked about how the first colonists got off of the Earth and some of the reason’s behind it. In this post, I am going to talk about more specifics on how a corporation could make money sending people to space.

The first question the inevitably comes up is the extraordinary cost of getting anything into space. I’ll leave the politics out, but that basics of it is that it will cost approximately $10,000 per kg to send anything into Low Earth Orbit and approximately $30,000 per kg to send anything into Geosynchronous Orbit. Please note that LEO is anything around 160km to 2000km above the surface of the earth, while Geosynchronous Orbit is 35,786km above the surface of the earth. That means that it currently costs $75,000 to send an average human into LEO and 2.25 million to send one to Geosynchronous Orbit.

That price tag is huge. Impossibly huge. It is a huge barrier to human space exploration that it is what is holding everything back. It is not the risks to humans or the technologies that have to be devolved in order to make it work. It is money alone that is the barrier to space exploration and if anyone says otherwise, they are lying.

The biggest part of the cost to space exploration is the insane amount of fuel and material that it takes to get the cargo out of the gravity well of earth. The cost of moving cargo around the solar system is far cheaper. I am sure that you noticed the difference of moving cargo to Geosynchronous is only three times the cost for 17 times the distance.

A company can make a huge amount of profit by mining ice asteroids and providing the clean drinking water to the ISS. And that is only the tip of the iceberg for the amount of opportunities out there.

There are asteroids out there that are comprised of a large amount of rare earth metals. These metals are what make computers and modern life possible. But they are called rare earth metals because they are rare on earth. Out in space, however, they are not as rare as they are on earth. There is a nearby asteroid that has more platinum on it that has been mined from the earth since we knew of its existence.

That can be done by robots up to a point. At some point it becomes essential for humans to go and live in space. Only certain experiments can be done in a micro gravity and then there is the entire question of the asteroid of death issue that a multi-planet species will fix.

Once they get to space, human’s have a wide range of different needs that will need industries to meet. The best way to do that is to produce those goods in space. Where they don’t have to pay for the goods to be shipped out of the earth’s gravity well.

That means that the best way to develop long term space colony’s before we are able to build a space elevator is to cut the earth out of the equation for as many things as possible. No high prices of goods from Earth brings down the cost of living in space.

In my fictional world, that is what the corporations fight for and get. The ability to go space and the ability to ship materials back to Earth and to expect to make a profit of goods and services.

These corporations start by mining asteroids and building space stations in space. The develop Mars as a Space Colony and it is the private industry moving forward that prompts NASA to send a space mission cause heaven forbid a private industry getting to space before NASA.

That brings up a rather large amount of different issues as well, which will be talked about in a later blog post. Most of which aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things as the the story takes place in 2500 CE and not 2025 CE.

The story world changes from the time of the first explorers and settlers to the time of Des and the Jovian Empire. Just look at how life was like at 1525 CE to now in 2017 CE.

Next time I will go into more detail on what I think that brief history of what happens to each of the planets. Well, maybe one planet. We’ll see how it goes.

Futurism: Part One

This is the first part of a many part series of blogs that are going to talk about the science fiction world that I have created for my son’s Serial ‘Space Courier’ and others.

(Part One of Space Courier is nearing completion in editing and I expect to publish as an ebook on Amazon and a print version on Create Space.)

As a general declaimer, the information created for the world building of these stories is not intended to be thrown completely at the reader, but shown slowly throughout the stories as it becomes relevant to what is going on. Example, the main character, Des, in Space Courier lives on a giant space station Jov 1-H. He does not care what is happening on Venus or the price of tea there. As such, there is no mention of Venus or its Psychedelic Tea leaves.

So the story of Space Courier is set 500 years in the future. Why 500 years?

Good question. I picked it out of my ass.

Well. Kinda.

I selected 500 years as it is a good point in time that is far enough in the future that it gives me freedom to decide what has or hasn’t been accomplished at that point, but it is not too far away to be completely unmanageable. I didn’t want to be so far away that it I show life similar to modern day in many ways that it would break the story.

To start, I decided on a very rough history of how we, as a race, escaped the confines of Earth and became a multi-planet species.

There are two main schools of thoughts that have sprang up when you talk about us colonizing other planets.

The first is that it is obvious that it is a National or multi-National government that colonies other planets and moons.

But I don’t fall into that camp. I sit firmly in the other camp. I think that while governments have will power and money to do expeditions of this type, I don’t think that it is the case with interplanetary travel.

Christopher Columbus revolutionized travel to the Americas. He led an expedition to India and found North America. Everyone knows the story. He was also paid by the Spanish monarchy to do so.

But the numbers don’t add up.

Columbus was using old technology. Sailing ships have been around forever and the style that he had were around for many years. Further more, he knew that the Earth was round. They had known that for a while. He was an idiot and did not bring enough food to last the journey to India if there had been no North America around for resupply.

Nothing in his trip was experimental or difficult. They could navigate by the stars and the currents would bring him to the Americas even if he had no sails. His trip was nothing special in relative terms to what the first Space Travelers seek to do.

When we go to space, in real life as well as my fictional world, every piece of technology used is going to have been invented in the last 30 years if not sooner. That is getting all of the supplies, personal and material into orbit. The multi-month trip to the planet or moon, as well as that habitat that they will be living in.

The struggles that they have to face, especially the environment, is so much harsher that what Columbus faced that there is no comparison. I can’t come up with a single metaphor or simile.

Stating all of that and looking at the social and economic problems that are around today, I feel that it is not going to be governments that take people permanently to space. Governments will take Astronauts to space to play golf and maybe do some experiments when they can. They will not be taking people to space for permanent settlement.

They do not have the money or the political will power to do so.

What one government takes years to build up, it is often ripped apart by the next. NASA cuts programs all the time as one congress takes money away almost at a whim.

Also, the fact that the Spanish Monarchy payed for Columbus is not the same as the U.S Congress funding NASA. It would be like SpaceX going to congress for a lump sum of money to outfit an expedition to colonize Mars. Not a government bureaucracy getting a quarterly budget allotment that it MUST spend.

So, politics aside.

In my fictional world, NASA and China send over a couple manned missions to Mars and they play a killer game of golf. Among some really good discoveries that manned missions tend to do. There is no wind storm that disables stuff and causes a botanist to be forced to grow potatoes from his own shit. Sorry.

What happens after that is that there is a landmark legal case where a private corporation sues the world governments and opens up private space travel and privatization.

The legal basis of that idea is shaky at best, but it is something that happened 450 years before the main characters of my books were born. It’s okay for it to sound off. Listening to a history professor is like that. I know many times where I heard the history of what happened and thought to myself, “Really?”.

In my fictional world, the first permanent space colony was funded and built by someone that wanted to make money in the enterprise. I will go into more detail on some of the stuff that a corporation could be making money on in space next time. For now, this blog has gone on long enough.

Until next time.