Copyright © 2009 by Gaylen Hinton. Published by The Mars Society with permission.
THE COLONIZATION OF MARS VIA A MARTIAN SPACE ELEVATOR
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An initial colony on Mars could be established through a Martian space elevator (MSE) that was sent from earth along with the colonists. The MSE and the colony could get into areosynchronous orbit (ASO) with the expenditure of less than 600 m/s of delta V. Once in ASO, the MSE would be made operational by simultaneously lowering a base station to Mars and extending the counterweight. The base station would be mobile in order to maneuver it to the right location. The colony would be based about 10¡ off of the equator in order to position the MSE where the Martian moons would not affect it.
It would probably not be practical to send an MSE to Mars unless there was a space elevator (SE) on earth first, due to the mass involved. In order for an earth-based SE to give a craft the delta V necessary to get to Mars, the craft would have to be released about 25,000 km past geosynchronous orbit (GSO). At that point the net force is only about 1/40g. Therefore huge loads, assembled at GSO, could be sent to Mars with minimal loading on the cable. Also, multiple loads could be sent and collected together in transit. Therefore, the initial colony could be composed of hundreds of people, the MSE, and all their supplies and equipment.