Luna-Mars Trade

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Mars could return dividends at the same time that Luna does if they join forces. Luna has considerable potential for manufacturing and shipping stuff into orbit about Earth where it can be of financial benefit, but Luna is short of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Carbon. These elements are not only necessary for life, they are useful for many industrial processes. Mars has all of these elements in reasonably recoverable concentrations, and could export them to Luna and Earth orbiting factories. The cost of lifting them from Mars could become considerably less than the cost of lifting them from Earth. Low Mars orbit, at an altitude of 100 miles has a velocity of 3440 meters per second, less than half of the velocity needed to orbit Earth at that altitude, more than twice the velocity needed to orbit Luna. With reusable rockets built on Earth to use liquid methane and liquid oxygen, if the exhaust velocity is 3500 meters per second, there should be 36% of the take-off weight in orbit. With wings for a supersonic in ground effect landing in the 0.1 psi Martian atmosphere, the empty weight should be held to 30% leaving 6% of the take-off weight as cargo. If the technology for the supersonic in ground effect landing is not ready soon enough, there is always the possibility that Phobos is stuffed with volatiles. Phobos could be ground up and processed at one end and the tailings dumped at the other end. It should be many years before the entire moon is converted into tailings, during that time Luna and Earth orbiting factories should be churning out a great many solar power satellites, orbital habitats, and orbiting space ports to help lift traffic from Earth. If Phobos is 30% by weight volatiles and ships six thousand tons a year that is part ammonium cyanide and part propane, then after fifty years 100 billionths of Phobos will be processed.[1]

  • reference
  1. Phobos weighs 1*10^16 kg according to the Phobos article at Wikipedia.