Sorry, but it's hard to take this author seriously when he thinks Russia doesn't manufacture "advanced technologies" such as "aircraft, container ships, engines, cars".
And what does it have to do with Mars anyway ? Are we going to take our primitive geopolitical structure that we have on Earth and implement it on Mars too ?
In fact, I think this will be an even tougher challenge than the technological one:
Who owns the equipment sent from Earth, the land, the resources that are being extracted ?
Countries/companies/individuals from Earth ? How are they going to enforce that and guard against a revolution ? (Space police, killer robots ?)
What if a conflict arises between the colony and Earth ?
Technological challenges - I think we'll figure them out - but these 'soft' aspects - I'm not sure I want all this bullshit to spread around the Solar System thank you.
How are they going to enforce that and
guard against a revolution?
Who owns the equipment sent from Earth?
Russians have designed their own microprocessors but they are manufactured in Taiwan by TSMC.
I know nothing about this industry, but looking only at that list it seems very possible to me that Russia is, for all intents and purposes, completely dependent on the global economy for semiconductor fab.
Folks in this thread seem to have mistakenly interpreted this as a value judgement about Russia from the author. "Russia is sophisticated enough to produce any of these products!" is a retort to that claim, buts it's completely besides the point.
Though I will say the two car plants that design and build cars from the ground up are both closing.
They wouldn't be if Australia was on Mars. This illustrates a point. Low shipping costs are what's killing those plants. High shipping costs are an issue for Mars. They'll have to make their own in almost every case.
Australia could absolutely have advanced industries like aerospace and semiconductor fabs if the regulatory environment wasn't directly hostile to those industries.
What will become currency? In other words, how can you use free markets to get people to provide work most efficiently? In software, OSS seems to be the most efficient development model but it lacks payment for the effort. Likewise once people are making stuff, it would be a waste of resources to have multiple competitors making similar things. I suspect not having patents is the quickest way to get efficient production in a low resource environment. A race to the bottom may be OK when everyone starts at the bottom.
Lastly, It seems like a good idea for Mars to have a product or service that is extremely useful to the people of earth. This would allow them to exchange that for continuing shipments of materials they desperately need. An information service would seem to fit the bill, due to zero mass for shipping it back and few resources needed to create it. But what? Engineers could live and work on mars, but not enough to create a shortage of those services on Earth. Is there any use for the time delay inherent in transmission to Mars? For example, with HFT in the stock market, could a more "fair" system be built with transactions taking place on Mars where there is a large latency built into the system? Of course you'd have to keep locals on Mars from trading in that system. With our constant quest for higher speed an low latency it seems wrong to seek a solution that depends of guaranteed long latency. Something like that, of high value that is unique to the situation could go a long way toward preventing abandonment by Earth but I really don't know what that would be.
I don't thing what it takes to build a minimum viable civilization on Mars will be determined until there is one.
I think your economic analysis is really overcooking it... we are talking about some wild shit here, we can't even begin to imagine what the system they will create will look like. Although I hope it's like something from the mars trilogy.
This is going to be an entirely science and technology focused outpost of society. Basically cut off from the baggage of earth because of the distance. Initially currency is going to be proper basic units. Maybe energy, hydrogen, oxygen, essentials. And it's going to be an innovation centre because of necessity. Once that place half scales it's going to be outrageous.
Ben Bova's "Welcome to Moon Base" has a lot of content and estimates on this, although not at that scale. It's specific to the moon, so things like low-gravity self-powered flight might not make it into the recreation possibilities of Mars, but as for living underground in huge vaults made of the regolith, it makes an interesting case.
Tunnels are a great idea considering Mars has no atmosphere and ozone layer, but TBR strike me as completely overkill and out of proportion, you don't even remotely need >ø10m tunnels for a martian base of operation and should rather model after historical underground cities/shelters like Ouyi/Nushabad, Capadoccia's underground cities (Kaymakli, Derinkuyu) or various catacombs of the Old World.
For many everyday things we must assume that Mars needs aerospace level reliability and safety. Typically it's assumed that there is at leas factor of ten increase when developing with aerospace standards. So multiply value of everything that can affect health with 10, including housing, fire alarms, ventilation and outdoor gear.
It can't be assumed that settling Mars is preplanned. Every form of manufacturing and every process must constantly adapt and innovate to overcome the obstacles not seen beforehand. This takes lots of time and timelines will slow down. You can't just keep sending up robots in massive amounts. You need to send small batches and refine and constantly adapt them. This requires highly educated manpower.
I's probably hard to find millions of people ready to sentence themselves into very low life standards and lower life expectancy once the hype wears off. There are lots of dreamers cheering who eventually balk or don't survive. How do you get millions of "right stuff" to live the life of constant maintenance. Maybe you need to have cult like sci-fi religion like Mormons :)
To my understanding Skunk Works developed e.g. the Blackbird from scratch with much better cost efficiency than a modern greenfield project would if they followed best practices written in stone. I think high quality engineering can be implemented with far less cost if the project allows for iterative development and efficient communication and ownership between stakeholders (e.g. the engineer and the machinist can figure things out on their own instead of rotating everythong through cost and quality control authorities). Ben Rich , an ex Skunkworks director laments at length of the inefficiency of bureaucratic style of product development - which is probably an outgrowth of the same phenomena that causes so many bullshit jobs. So, to my mind what things like F-35 cost and what are the intrinsic costs of proper, durable engineering are not entirely related.
 Rich, Skunk works
If you could order wide body jet without the attached standards, they would be able to build exact replica of the fleet with fraction of the cost.
Same aluminum pieces with random quality inspections is much cheaper than every piece of aluminum checked and tested before installing, plus verifying that it's tested and inspected. Installing that piece would be cheaper if there would be no inspectors for every phase of work doubling or tripling the manpower. Just tightening a bolt is cheap. Tightening it the right amount, cheeking that it has been done correctly etc. are costly.
Astronauts living in ISS periodically inspect every hatch and every safety critical device. Their days are filled with checklists. Things wear down and break and small undetected error can end life.
>* I's probably hard to find millions of people ready to sentence themselves into very low life standards and lower life expectancy once the hype wears off.*
Have you seen how billions of humanity live today? There are always going to be millions of people looking for a better something somewhere. Doesn't mean they will find it
Engineer living with minimum income on earth gets more free time, travel and swimming opportunities on Earth.
Establishing a permanent settlement in an area uninhabitable by humans seems like an incredible challenge that humanity has never attempted. It will likely have so many unforeseeable contingencies that are impossible to provide for before we actually try it. If we are going to try something like that, I'd much rather the first time be under the Ocean where there is a relatively easy out if we run into problems rather than in outer space where you're just stuck with no way out.
If the low gravity makes peoples' fitness decay over a decade or two, parents can't raise their kids, and in fact kids can't develop either.
Providing radiation shielding in an economical and psychologically benign way seems much more challenging.
The long-term health effects of low gravity are not a solved issue as far as I know:
I asked about gravity and not the (many) other issues because we have at least some hints on how to handle say radiation shielding, however we have no idea how to change gravity if it does indeed prove to be a blocking point for permanent settlements.
By all means, file this under "possible, as-yet unquantified risk". It's certainly conceivable that there is some killer disease the crops up in 1/3 gravity if you don't exercise daily. But right now I don't think we have any data that's inconsistent with the reasonable first guess that normal people will be basically fine in 1/3 gravity. (This maybe just a question of what we mean by "basically". To me, a 10% lowering of life-expectancy is acceptable and expected when colonizing another planet. The trip itself will probably be a few percent chance of death.)
On the other hand, we have fairly large, well-quantified risks for radiation exposure of long-term living on Mars, and we have no obvious way to solve it without huge concrete structures, underground tunneling, or as-yet-uninvented magnetic shields. EDIT: Actually, I retract my claim that this is a bigger worry than low gravity as I am no longer sure. The radiation exposure is less than I thought, and likely reduces life expectancy by less than 5%. https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/1_NAC_HEO_SMD...
"Copious and reliable electrical power will be required on Mars, provided most likely by a nuclear fission plant(s) or solar, but is beyond the scope of this discussion."
There are suitcase-sized power plants that NASA have proposed, but I have no idea how feasible they are - or what the maintenance requirements are. I've not been able to find any actual papers on the subject, just the usual gushing science press. Safety seems to be OK, but these are incredibly complicated systems requiring liquid metal cooling (for a start).
One partial source might be the burning of biomass (e.g. potato leaves and, um, other things).
I don't think burning anything for energy is going to be an option. Oxygen isn't free.
It will force greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, which will promote the raising of temperatures and formation of liquid water.
Then maybe people will want to live there- the rest will be history :)
A small minority, sure, but far more than we'll have capacity to send there for a very long time.