The potential for bootstrapping extraterrestrial industry
When industry is fully developed on Luna, space based solar power plants could be built for Earth, but there is no need to stop there. SBSP satellites could be built and shipped whole to Mars along with colonists to fill the colonists' electrical power needs. Not only that but a shield could be built at the Mars-Sun L1 point using lunar material. This would shade Mars so that by dropping its temperature it could be lunaformed, making its atmospheric pressure practically zero. This would allow mass drivers to operate effectively on Mars and allow the export of Mars' products economically to Luna and Earth. The shade that would cool Mars would incorporate a microwave power generating facility so that former SBSP satellites in synchronous orbit about Mars could be converted to microwave relay stations insuring that Mars received plenty of power for the strip mining operations. Mars would be strip mined from pole to pole and from the surface to the core allowing its mass to be spread out in orbit about the sun as space habitats. Based on a G.K. O'Neill estimate that the asteroid belt contains enough mass to make space habitats with 3,000 times the living space of Earth, Mars could be converted into habitats with living space equal to 680,000 Earths. That would house 4*1015 people (four million billion people). To have energy for all of them the habitats would fill the entire orbital path of the former planet Mars in a belt 0.044 degrees wide. That allows as much sunlight per person as falls on Earth plus 27 percent more because it made calculations easier. It seems that most Mars colony enthusiasts think too small. The six billion or so Martians that could live on a terraformed Mars are insignificant compared to those who could be provided homes from the material of a lunaformed Mars. Farred 22:15, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
- The material for SBSP satellites and a shield to lunaform Mars would not need to come from Luna. Phobos and Deimos have sufficient material for making such things. It is suggested above that space habitats are 700,000 times more efficient per unit mass in providing housing than terraforming Mars would be. Space habitats might be only 100,000 times more efficient or 1,000,000 times more efficient. The calculations could not be very precise with available data. The important thing is that it would be a great waste of the 6.4*1020 metric tons of Mars (640 quintillion tons) to use it mostly just to provide a less than optimal gravity for six billion people when it could provide exactly the desired gravity for four million billion people. At the same time trade in the choicer fractions of the substance of Mars mined and sold to Earth and Luna could provide the wealth that could make the lives of the miners worth living.
- After mining a couple of kilometers or so of Mars the volatile fraction of material mined would become somewhat scarce, so it would be supplemented with volatiles from the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. A lunaforming shield could also be placed in the Venus Sun L1 point, but it would take significantly longer for Venus' atmosphere to freeze out than for the thin atmosphere of Mars. Lunaforming Venus would have to start long before the volatiles to be mined from its frozen atmosphere would be needed. Naturally there is plenty of time before housing for four million billion people will be needed. The strip mining project should provide employment for many generations of Martians. The side benefit to planetary science in having the internal substance of Mars revealed in detail would just be a bonus. Farred 22:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)