The concept of development of Mars, by placing in its orbit, the industrial base for processing of asteroid resources makes it possible to profitably develop the Martian orbit and reduce the cost of the program of scientific bases on the Martian surface. And in the longer term, the availability of some Martian industrial system has made it possible and profitable, human colonization of the planet.
Mars, the potential «second Earth» in the solar system
Mars, on the conditions on the surface closest to the planet Earth in the solar system. Mars is smaller than the earth, it is colder, its atmosphere is extremely tenuous and is not suitable for breathing. But compared with the Moon, Mercury, or the satellites of the giant planets, Mars conditions are quite comfortable for people and manned stations.
The establishment of permanent settlements on Mars, one of the main important task of modern astronautics. Together with the colonization of Mars, mankind will have new habitable world in the solar system after the Earth. And this is one of the biggest steps in the transformation of modern terrestrial civilization in space having an incomparably higher level of development.
Flights to Mars are technically possible, although they are more long-term and expensive than flying to the moon. But some fundamental constraints for the creation of the first manned base on Mars, no.
For the scientific program, manned Martian base will probably be expensive, it will cost at least dozens or hundreds of billions of dollars, so explore Mars robotic probes. But now, there is an active reformatting space development strategy. In place of scientific propaganda purposes since «Race for the Record», and projects implemented by the state space agencies, space come to private groups, putting the problem of practical development of an extraterrestrial space. Which is associated with hopes for a transition from a one-time visits to the cosmos, to the development of outer space continuum, which will attract new investment, and expand over time until it goes into a stage of its full-scale colonization.
The main directions of space exploration
The three main areas of space exploration, are associated with the development of the Moon, Mars exploration, and development of asteroids. Each of these areas has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Exploration of the Moon, most accessible, and the moon is closest to earth source space resources, such as construction materials and fuel for the satellite constellation. One of the promising activities considered mining on the moon of radioactive materials for fusion energy future. Exploration of the Moon, could be a good beginning of the colonization of the solar system, but it is only the first stage.
Development of asteroid resources may also be beneficial and is available on the level of costs. Unlike the Moon, for them will have to continue to fly. But asteroids almost zero gravity, and thus for transportation of raw materials from asteroids, these customized orbital tugs enough with economical «and the electric» engines, which are used for flying interplanetary distances. Low gravity on asteroids, making unnecessary the use of missiles, or expensive infrastructure of transportation systems such as electromagnetic catapult gun or rope that will be used on the Moon. Asteroids, containing a plurality of a wide variety of mineral, ceramic materials, structural metals, precious metals and rare earth elements, water and organic matter. Taking into account their availability for future transportation systems, it is the cheapest and most abundant source of various raw materials for the future of the space industry. The main drawback of the asteroid direction that asteroids can be a good source of raw materials for the aerospace industry, but is unlikely to become a good habitat for humans.
Mars exploration, direction, more promising with the common civilizational perspective. Mars is a potential «second Earth» in the solar system. But the weak point of the Martian direction in the absence of any practicable activities. Mars carry with minerals or fuel components, like the moon, too expensive and compared to the moon, to Mars fly too far. Any especially valuable mineral resources, such as precious metals or rare earth elements on Mars there. Is not there and the potential of radioactive materials, some considered isotope «Helium — 3», which is found on the moon. A further development of Mars programs complicates strong gravitation and the presence of the atmosphere on this planet, which complicate the return flight from it, requiring a powerful rockets,
Modern designs of manned Mars bases
Now, there are several projects on creation on Mars manned bases. It is the largest public projects, space agencies, such as the «NASA», «Roscosmos», «European Space Agency», and «China National Space Administration.» Projects of independent analysts, such as «Robert Zubrin,» offering to receive fuel for the return of the crews on the ground from the atmosphere of Mars, which enables repeatedly to reduce the cost of the program. And projects initiative groups, the most famous of which is «Mars One», «Mars One», developing the idea of flying to Mars «One Way», without return, with the television broadcast from the station as a commercial reality show, the profits from which shall recoup the cost of the project. What makes this project one of the cheapest, but it is doubtful as to the moral and ethical,
The vision of development of Mars due to the development in its orbit of the industrial system associated with the development of asteroid resources.
The proposed me Mars exploration concept, the development of this planet should begin with the creation of the commercial industrial base, one of the Martian satellites serving as one of the main centers of industry development of asteroid resources. That will connect the Martian asteroid and directions in a major program that will be commercial, economically feasible, and could serve as a transition stage to Mars exploration by people greatly simplifies and accelerates the task.
Tasks and device «Around Mars industrial base»
The main function of «Around Mars» industrial base, serve as an outpost for the development of various activities related to the production. And maintenance of transport vehicles and stations for mining asteroid resources. Flights from Earth orbit in the asteroid belt, a long and expensive, as well as flights from Earth orbit to Mars. But the Martian orbit, located on the outskirts of the asteroid belt, so placing it on the manufacturing and service base for a promising industry for the development of asteroid resources will help to limit cut supply from the ground. Due to this, the activities of some Martian industrial base, will reduce the cost of development of the industrial system of the asteroid, and will accelerate its growth.
Industrial base must be fitted with equipment to produce the satellites of Mars soil and delivered it asteroidal materials, various load-bearing structures and soil extraction and processing mechanisms. To expand the database itself and equipping of expeditions to asteroids for industrial raw materials. Framework should serve as a center for the processing of asteroid resources, mining of asteroid soil of rare and precious metals, before sending them to the ground, that will help to reduce transportation costs. And the center of production of various products and consumables, raw materials from the asteroid, space consumption for industrial system. Rocket fuel, all sorts of structures, components and mechanisms.
The first phase of development, the construction using the «Base of the prototype»
In the early stages of construction near the Martian base, should go to an unmanned, fully automated version. Using miniaturized equipment with small size and light weight, but in functionality, similar equipment for a full-size manned bases. Miniature, multi-purpose robots. Electronic command center, equipped with a powerful computer, a robot remote control. Machines for crushing and processing of soil. Machines for production of ceramic supporting structures and buildings inhabited modules. And «Technology», repair, operating unit, with built-in pointing devices, able to perform delicate and complex job serving center for repair and maintenance of robots and other equipment.
Miniaturized base, the first stage is to prepare a cavity in the back of one of the satellites of Mars. Construct within the cavity and several full size manned process modules. Build on the moon’s surface transition module, a network of rails for moving robots with low gravity, landing sites, connecting modules for spaceships carrying farm for solar power plants, and other structures.
Miniaturized robots may have a weight of the order of several tens of kilograms. Weight portable modules must be about a few hundred kilograms. Due to this, the total weight of the first stage of the expedition, should not exceed a few tonnes. The costs of this stage should be in the range of ten, or at most, several tens of billions of dollars. What makes the base project, is relatively expensive.
Thanks to the miniaturization and the use of technologies and approaches industrialization of space, a full-size near the Martian base can be constructed it miniature prototype. Which will greatly reduce the cost of creating the first reference point of perspective about the Martian industrial system. Doing this task is comparable in terms of costs and timing of the implementation of a common space program, available to both government agencies and private investors.
A possible prototype for the base is sufficient to perform practical functions, such as test, pilot, work on the processing of asteroid resources. Which, despite the small scale, it can be used for practical purposes. For example, for rocket fuel or water, the most base and expeditions to asteroids, which will reduce the cost of supply base and raise its level of autonomy. And also, perhaps, for the supply of near-Earth orbital stations. As the fuel and water, as well as ceramic materials, or light metals that can be used for the construction of the modules and supporting trusses and production of various products on 3D printers facing cheaper analogs delivered to the ground. Since freight orbital tugs will be many times cheaper than the orbit insertion rocket.
At about the Martian base of the first stage, can be built-ins and structures for scientific manned bases on the Martian surface. Chemical reagents can be produced, for manufacture of propellant Mars atmosphere. On the surface of Mars, so it is possible to transfer a miniaturized equipment near the Martian base of the first phase, when it will begin completing a full-size equipment and prototypes will not need them. In this case, the prototypes can build a base on Mars from the local soil, as well as on the Martian satellite. If the modules and produce the fuel on the spot, you can significantly reduce the cost of making the first manned base on Mars, as the modules and fuel account for a major share of the load in any expedition. Projects manned bases on the surface of Mars than commercial, research and demonstration,
Stage manned base, functioning and development of
In the next stage of development, about a Martian base, when they built the main structure to ensure its vital functions, will stage its acquisition and growth. At this stage, the base will be equipped with heavier, efficient and multi-purpose equipment, which allows to process large volumes of asteroid materials to build housing manned bases, orbital tugs and spaceships. Begins expansion and extension from manned and technical compartments. The base can accept human crews. Users will be able to provide better control of robots than automatic command centers and make more subtle and varied work than computers controlled manipulators. Human crews also will be able to control robots on the Martian surface, without delay, associated with delay on the radio path from Mars to earth and back again. Exploring Mars with robots, controlled from the orbital station, cheaper than the creation of manned bases on the surface, and it can be claimed in the early stages.
The main products are asteroidal industry must deliver to the ground will precious metals and rare earth elements. These materials are expensive, and they are essential in the manufacture of electronics and other high-tech industries. In the future, the demand for them is constantly and steadily growing, causing the inflow of investment in the direction of the asteroid. This consequently lead to widening of the asteroid and about Mars groups to a level at least comparable with the satellite industry today. Tens or hundreds of small mining bases on asteroids, the grouping of orbital tugs are constantly flying in the asteroid belt, and shuttling between Mars and Earth, a large base on the Martian orbit, the annual turnover of several hundred billion to a trillion dollars. Such an extent
The transition from industrialization to the Martian orbit Mars colonization
Along with the growth of the Martian base on Mars, and will create a permanent, the infrastructure of the transport surface of class system — orbit consisting of powerful electromagnetic guns, catapults or cable, operating on the principle of a sling. It is also possible, creating Mars space elevator rope which extends from the counterweight is in orbit, to the planet’s surface, or from the nearest to the satellite Mars — «Phobos» to the upper limit Mars atmosphere. Low Gravity and low orbital velocity on Mars, simplify the task of creating a transport system surface — orbit. The emergence of such a transport infrastructure that will enable low-cost and mass transport between the surface of Mars and the industrial system on its orbit. crews watch for about a Martian orbital base will be prolonged, taking into account the time of flight to Mars, about 7 months, they will last for at least several years. And after the advent of cheap transport between the orbit and the surface of Mars, it will become a convenient place on the Martian surface dwelling settlements for staff about the Martian industry.
Building on Mars residential and recreation areas, will launch its further, move. Which will begin to develop with the appearance of several bases of settlements with farms for the cultivation of food and supporting industrial system, for the construction, production of various kinds of machines and supplies of life-support materials. After that, Mars will begin to develop practical activities associated with likely the cultivation of food products, since the surface of the planet for that much better than the space base. From the auxiliary, serving industrial system first Martian settlements, will begin to develop its own Martian industry. And further, will begin a gradual increase in the Martian industry, and colonization of the planet, in line with the development of the Martian economy. Which ultimately
Thus, the project support base asteroid industry, on the Martian orbit, allows you to combine and Martian asteroid direction, into a single large-scale program. Which will begin the practical development around the Martian orbit, as well as easier as the development of asteroids, Mars and development of research programs. And at a later stage, when about Martian industrial system to grow to large scale, it will move from the industrialization of the Martian orbit to the colonization of the Martian surface.
The possible impact of the concept of «Around Mars, the asteroid, the industrial system» for future plans Mars exploration.
Traditional approaches to the development of Mars, are mega projects prohibitively high cost, without direct economic justification. They have a moral motivation and general civilizational problem, but there is no practical purposes, without which the development of any expansionist programs on a global scale is not practicable.
Mars exploration program, through the development of its orbit of the industrial system, serving a promising asteroid industry, allows you to turn Martian direction in the plan of global industrialization of the solar system. And it may be cost-effective and affordable for the level of costs «road map» for the development of this planet.
The relatively low cost outside the concept of the project, makes it easier to work on their implementation and speed up the movement in the Martian asteroid and directions. Combining an asteroid and Mars directions, it makes it possible to bring to the program, both private and public actors, on mutually beneficial terms. Aerospace agency with budget programs for the study of Mars, it will have the opportunity to reduce the cost of their projects. Private entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to attract public funding or investments, as well as the possibility to use for their own purposes, the most powerful, state scientific production systems. Bringing together major players in the space program of Mars exploration through some martian industrial base, will contribute to the formation of the «World Martian consortium.»
The proposed concept can turn the upcoming Mars colonization of abstract futuristic predictions in the real direction of the development of astronautics.
Now the concept is published on the pages of Russian branch of the Mars Society headed by Robert Zubrin. Is its general theoretical study and attract potential members.