Copyright © by Robert Zubrin. Published to the Marspapers archive with permission.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics
PO Box 179
Denver, CO 80201, USA
The economic viability of colonizing Mars is examined. It is shown, that of all bodies in the solar system other than Earth, Mars is unique in that it has the resources required to support a population of sufficient size to create locally a new branch of human civilization. It is also shown that while Mars may lack any cash material directly exportable to Earth, MarsŐ orbital elements and other physical parameters gives a unique positional advantage that will allow it to act as a keystone supporting extractive activities in the asteroid belt and elsewhere in the solar system. The potential of relatively near-term types of interplanetary transportation systems is examined, and it is shown that with very modest advances on a historical scale, systems can be put in place that will allow individuals and families to emigrate to Mars at their own discretion. Their motives for doing so will parallel in many ways the historical motives for Europeans and others to come to America, including higher pay rates in a labor-short economy, escape from tradition and oppression, as well as freedom to exercise their drive to create in an untamed and undefined world. Under conditions of such large scale immigration, sale of real-estate will add a significant source of income to the planetŐs economy. Potential increases in real-estate values after terraforming will provide a sufficient financial incentive to do so. In analogy to frontier America, social conditions on Mars will make it a pressure cooker for invention. These inventions, licensed on Earth, will raise both Terrestrial and Martian living standards and contribute large amounts of income to support the development of the colony.