Being able to afford a $500k house is different than having $500,000. Houses can be mortgaged for 30 years, but if you're going to Mars, you're not going to have an income and can't pay back that loan.
I don't think a lot of 40 somethings have $500k laying around.
People might want to go to Mars for non-economic reasons and then continue to do software development, too. (I'd happily pay $500k to go to Mars if it looked like doing so wouldn't rule out life extension technology, either because life extension was stalled or because it would also be available on Mars. The only thing I wouldn't give up for Mars is a good chance at immortality.)
What makes Mars so great for producing software that would cover the added expense of firing a programmer all the way there in a rocket?
I'm not sure if you're asking this question rhetorically or not, but one answer might be that you wouldn't have nearly as many distractions as on earth. No commuting, no Starbucks, no phone calls (from earth, anyway), no going for a walk or a bike ride, no going to the beach - you get the idea. In fact, spending a lot of time working in some kind of virtual, computerized environment might be the only way to keep from going nuts up there.
What's sort of interesting, though, about being on Mars when it comes to an economy is that exporting stuff to Earth might be somewhat questionable. With the exception of digital goods like software and entertainment, the only stuff worth buying on Earth is stuff that can be transported to you, and that would be so costly that your exports better be extremely valuable. While on Mars, if I wrote a program and sold it to you on Earth for $1 million, what good is that $1 million to me?
So other than basic bartering among your fellow settlers, I imagine that you'd probably spend most of your time just trying to survive on Mars itself, without exporting much of anything at all. You also can't trade with the native populations, since there aren't any, which is another major departure from most earthbound settlements.
I think any attempt to settle on Mars would experience many of the same sort of risks that ultimately doomed the Norse settlement of Greenland between AD 985 to approx 1500.
I was going to explain how this is wildly wrong, but you do it yourself a little later.
> you'd probably spend most of your time just trying to survive on Mars
Death being a larger distraction than all the Starbucks combined.
You have to consider this in the context of a solar system wide civilization. It's going to be a whole lot cheaper to ship things to and from Mars than from Earth. Orbital mechanics, Martian mineral resources, and the favorability of Mars for large scale agriculture will make it the hub of the solar-system's civilization. Settling Mars won't be like settling Greenland. It will be like establishing colonies in Massachusetts and Virginia. Eventually, the civilization-state of China and the western powers will realize this, and they will pay handsomely anyone who helps with their colonization projects.
No need to go to Mars for that, heh.
We want to live on Mars. We will give anything to go live on Mars. It'll cost more. Yes. It'll be tougher. Yes.
We want to live on Mars.
I want to be one of the lucky ones.
Also, I think you misunderstood me. Its not supposed to cover some cost; the presumed developer chose to go to Mars rather than stay on Earth and buy a house. He pays for the privilege of living on Mars.
It's not that Mars is spectacular for building software but rather that's a very cost effective export once you're there.
There's no way a guy on Mars could compete on costs.
I think you're also underestimating how much of a premium bandwidth will be too.
I don't get it. At all. Let's use me as an example: I'm currently in my 20s, a software developer with his mind and heart set on Mars. I'm Elon's target market, basically. So let's say I spend my money to go to Mars and fulfill my life's dreams and goals. You're suggesting that I shouldn't go, because 'git push' and 'git pull' are more expensive? Hah. Ridiculous!
> There's no way a guy on Mars could compete on costs. I think you're also underestimating how much of a premium bandwidth will be too.
No, I don't think so. Latency is very high, but data rate isn't going to be all that bad - in fact, it might be spectacular as the medium of transit is the near-vacuum of space. Though I agree to a certain extent that costs will generally be higher when building software for Earth.
But slow down here, because this was just one example of a segment of a potential Martian economy. We clearly are not going to predict all the details this far out, and we're already debating about the data transmission costs. I think the point here is to take a step back and realize that Martians would certainly have a lot to do, would have their own small (though growing) economy, and that exports to Earth will likely be mostly digital due to shipping costs for physical objects.
I'm saying that production of anything for export is probably not going to be a priority, for a long long time. Generations at the very least.
Also, from the way you've blown up here, going off on someone just for throwing out a few doubts, are you absolutely sure you have the right temperament to be locked in a tiny box with other people for a 6 month journey... or possibly the rest of your life? Crikey.
As far as production for export not happening for generations: well, I disagree and I think that's completely crazy. I only brought it up as an example that the people living there will not be jobless. I didn't intend on starting some giant export debate, as clearly nobody here has any real idea to what extent there will be exports from Mars within the next 30 years.
But yeah, keep insulting me, that'll help this discussion.
Edit: If I sounded offended, I partially am. The suggestion that I should stay on Earth because it's cheaper is perhaps the most offensive thing anyone's said to me in a while.
I'm not telling you you can't, or shouldn't. You want to go to Mars? That's a fucking great aspiration.
I'm just saying I don't think software is going to be a major export. Or anything really... unless they find something valuable that's uniquely Martian.
Stop being offended by people disagreeing with you.
I completely agree with you that software will not be a major export. Nothing will be a major export. But that's completely irrelevant to everything I've said; I'm a programmer, and I will be able to afford a $500,000 house or a trip to Mars in my mid-40s. If I go, I will be unlikely to work a job purely Mars-based, and it makes sense that I would continue with my work as I do here on Earth: writing software.
Your suggestions that Earth basements are better for that life is...well, I don't really have words for how offensive that is. I'm not offended by your disagreement with me, I'm offended at your attitude that nerds should stay in Earth basements and not go to amazing places like Mars.
The nerd thing was a joke. I thought the assumption here was that we're all nerds?
Edit: because I put things in the wrong place.
Conditional on there being a Mars colony in 30 years, then there will almost certainly be mineral and food exports from Mars to the rest of the solar system other than Earth in another 10.
No way to grow food there unless you export a whole lot of greenhouses and set up an artificial biosphere, but without the conditions that we take for granted on earth.
This is already hard to do in deserts or in the Polar regions, where we have plenty of oxygen and free moisture flowing in the atmosphere.
: http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/ast121/lectures/lec14.html for a good explanation.
No, you can build the greenhouses in-situ. We have already worked out how to produce metals and polymers from martian resources.
> This is already hard to do in deserts or in the Polar regions, where we have plenty of oxygen and free moisture flowing in the atmosphere.
Sure, there will be considerable challenges. I don't see anything that will be insurmountable.
How is this relevant to growing in pressurized domes?
I don't think this will remain true. We have materials today that are strong enough to build space elevators on Mars. Heck, there are mountains on Mars that poke up above its atmosphere. We could just build linear accelerators on top of those and voila, we're free of the rocket equation when exporting to Earth and the rest of the solar system.
Things are going to be very difficult. They will be needing the support of Earth just to survive - forget about making an income.
Don't get me wrong - I'd love to go to Mars myself, but I wouldn't like to make such a long-term commitment without a good chance not to die there. And that doesn't even include my family.
That's just one possible job. Never mind the actual work that needs to be done by humans on Mars. Those people would be paid by humans on Earth. Just like astronauts of today. If I was a rich man I would certainly pay a human on Mars to explore.
Even in the longer run, I think it implausible that anybody on Mars would be doing anything at all that people on Earth would be interested in, once the initial excitement has worn off. And I think it more implausible yet that the Earth people will be interested in paying for it! Transporting physical materials would be impractical, even if you were prepared for the gargantuan expense, and while you could have some kind of remote working outpost, it's unclear how much use this would be to anybody. It's hard enough when people are only the other side of the world! - it's not going to be any easier if they're 50,000,000km away, with no phone connection, no postal service, and a ping time of at least 5 minutes.
As always, events may yet prove me wrong... but I don't expect them to.
He never said that most fortysomethings had $500k lying around. He said most fortysomethings in developed economies -could- pull the money together (to me, that implies if they really put their mind to it). He's only assuming that 1 in 100,000 -will- do it. Sure we could quibble about just exactly how hard for a given person to pull the money together, but I don't think there's a lot of argument that 1 in 100,000 would be able to do it.
Just think of immigrants from the early 1900's who uprooted their entire families and got on a boat to America. That was a one-way journey in most cases until international travel became more affordable and more commonplace. Interplanetary travel, when it happens, will likely take the same pattern.
It's closer to us, will lead to much more complicated problems to solve that we can get on Mars>
- dealing with plants in greenhouses with the much reduced gravity of the Moon compared to Mars
- no atmosphere, although this means no weather, which makes things more predictable compared to Mars.
For me there's no way a space colony grow to be huge without addressing ways of dealing with food production and stand alone survival of the colony, if we have ways to study this without spending months travelling, reducing risk and cost, then it's better, it would sum us more knowledge.
The Moon has far less water than Mars. No CO2. And it has a 28 day rotation cycle, which makes growing plants much more difficult. Mars has water, plentiful CO2, and a day that's only about 40 minutes longer than Earth's. This makes growing plants on Mars much, much easier.
In Mars orbit, we have data that indicates approx. 22 milirads a day. It should be a fair bit less on the surface. That gives the colonists about 3 years of unshielded radiation exposure till they hit the radiation max that NASA recommends
(remember, they should be shielded somewhat though)
There is also a decent amount of recent evidence that chronic radiation exposure in this quantity is no where as near as dangerous as a concentrated burst.
Settlements would likely involve radiation shielding - buildings underground, teleoperation, etc.
He's asking a half million each to go there. But the return trip is free. Why? He's got to get the spacecraft back anyways, and the cost of that dwarfs the cost of adding passengers.
There may be a lot more people who are willing to go when they know that, if it does not work for them, they can come back to Earth for free.
How long would it take us to go to Mars at current speeds? A year? What would be the ideal travel time till there so we don't get affected by space radiation too much?
If you are lifting that sort of mass already, your time is probably better spent lifting several tons or water that would be used to fill a double hull, providing protection from radiation. Then you can give your crew a few rubber bands and count on some minimal muscle loss. (We have kept people in space and reasonably healthy for the several months getting to Mars would take, but that is in LEO where radiation is much less of an issue).
The ISS is at a distance less than 5% the distance between us and the moon.
ie, centrifugal acceleration canceling out low gravity in LEO
Edit: There's that famous "40 days to Mars" study from a while ago about theoretical new rockets: http://www.space.com/8009-rocket-engine-reach-mars-40-days.h...
Has anyone encountered research on how we might be able to have children in non-standard gravity environments?