This project's funding goal was not reached on June 30, 2012.
About this project
What will it take to establish a Colony on Mars? Just how practical is a privately funded approach? Recent developments make this within reach. With your support we will bring more attention to this concept by holding a two-day Colony Planning Session. Convening some of the best minds in current colony thinking, the space industry, extreme engineering, business development, media and entertainment, to assess the mission and business structure needed to achieve a first landing and Colony creation. Out of this weekend will come an e-book – Colony Plan Alpha – providing fascinating coverage of the Session!
Why is Now the Time to Colonize Mars?
What was inconceivable just a few years ago is now possible – a private Mars Colony. Within the last several years five reasons have emerged that take a Colony out of the realm of science fiction and into fact:
- Global entertainment, sponsorship, licensing and media markets allow sustained funding for multi-billion dollar events.
- The rise of a private space industry to provide the launch and vehicle capabilities necessary for the journey.
- Our pioneers will also be Mars-to-stay settlers, this makes Colony development financially possible.
- The extensive foundational knowledge already developed, shows available resources and achievable engineering requirements.
- Social media, like Kickstarter, allows the aggregation of individual enthusiasts to support this Project, to help get it launched and to draw attention to its core idea.
These align to enable us to embark on the greatest adventure since the time of the legendary ocean explorers - establishing Earth’s first interplanetary Colony. Sounds a bit grandiose, but we submit that its time to validate that a private Mars Colony is now possible.
The Colony Planning Session
Even the longest journey must begin where you stand – Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)
To see where this idea stands, we are producing a Colony Planning Session with some of the best minds in current colony thinking, the space industry, extreme engineering, business development, media and entertainment.
This two-day Session will identify not only what is required to achieve a first landing and Colony creation, but as importantly what is the business planning needed to achieve this goal. We look for a realistic grounding for this idea and also intelligent discussion about how to make it happen.
Our presenters will speak on, and take questions relating to, Colony development in the following broad areas:
- Colonists – Skills profiles, selection & training, health & reproduction.
- Earth-Mars Transportation – Lift vehicles, ships, landing capabilities, orbits, staffed vs. cargo costs.
- Colony Infrastructure – IT, power, transport, shelter, atmosphere, food & water.
- Financing – Funding alternatives, media rights, licensing, sponsorships, global fund-raising.
- Business Structure – Organization mission, structure & evolution, required roles, recruitment.
Sounds Interesting - Can I Attend?
Digital Pass - Colony Planning Session: We invite as many Kickstarters as possible to attend the Colony Planning Session via a private webcast – please see the sidebar for Orbit Level thank you gifts!
All Access Pass - Colony Planning Session: If interested in attending in-person, we are inviting a small audience to watch the presentations and participate in the weekend. Please see the sidebar for First Landing Level thank you gifts!
Don’t Miss the eBook - Colony Plan Alpha!
What will it take to establish a Colony on Mars? Just how practical is a privately funded approach? Colony Plan Alpha will provide fascinating reporting on the Colony Planning Session. From first speaker to last presentation, this ebook records it all and advances our understanding of what is necessary to achieve a permanent human presence on Mars.
Launch Pad Level (and higher) patrons receive copies of Colony Plan Alpha as thank you gifts!
Available February 2013 for popular e-readers.
Mars Needs You to Make History!
Nothing happens without your patronage. Your financial support is important (we can’t do it without you) but frankly it’s also about the numbers of supporters as well. Because, if we have both a well-reasoned plan and large numbers backing it, the Colony will merit closer consideration when serious early stage investments are being made.
If you believe that going to Mars is important, this is a way to make that statement! And, just perhaps, be an important part of history on two worlds.
We want to acknowledge your patronage with different Colony related thank-you gifts. Some of these are be tangible like attendance at the Colony Planning Session or receiving copies of Colony Plan Alpha. Some will only happen if this Session gives birth to the Colony - such as your name on the First Lander or going to a blow out viewing party at the First Colonist Launch - but what cool possibilities!
We ask for your patronage and please see our FAQs below – they may cover a lot of your questions. But if you would like to reach out then please do so, we welcome your questions and thoughts! Please send your email to MarsColonyProject@gmail.com.
FAQ for the Mars Colony Project!
What’s the point, why colonize Mars? Ask Mars colonization supporters and you will find a number of diverse and compelling reasons – because humans have always been explorers and settlers and this effort ranks among the greatest adventures in history, because human life is too important to risk it all on one planet, because of the technological and educational spin-offs, because we are founding a new civilization on a new world. We frankly like all of the above.
Why not let NASA, the ESA, CNSA or Roscosmos explore and colonize Mars? Because none of these very good organizations, (with the possible exception of the Chinese and they want to go to the moon first), have adequate resources to make it happen quickly. NASA’s crewed Mars exploration continues to be slated for the 2030’s and none are seriously discussing colonization. We need and welcome their expertise and honor their history but we do not seek government money.
Why not let private space companies such as SpaceX, or Bigelow Aerospace, organize this effort? We would welcome a high profile, well-funded, private entity taking point. We share the goals expressed by their leadership to use their products to get to Mars and they provide the technological foundation for this effort. While they are building their companies we would like to be building the Colony and using their expertise and craft to help us get there.
Are there any legal or sovereignty problems? We do not believe so but will be making a fuller assessment by looking at the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, maritime precedents, and host country laws. The legal problems of getting tourist to space, have already been solved - we just want to send people a bit further and let them live and explore. The private Colony makes no claims of sovereignty over Mars and would welcome friends in its lonely neighborhood.
What is the Colony’s business structure? If successful, we anticipate that a private entity will register as a not-for-profit corporation, investing its earnings back into the Colony; but for now it is a sole proprietor launching this effort. We are looking at alternative organizational structures (such as a co-op) to provide enhanced grassroots participation and control.
Projecting a colony to another world is a unique business, engineering and human problem how are we going to address that? By necessity this requires a serious effort designed to operate a decades long, multi-national, multi-billion dollar enterprise, employing leaders in their respective fields across a wealth of disciplines, to plan and support an interplanetary colony. An experienced team, who can engage with the global community to build support for this effort, will have to be recruited to lead it.
How many Colonists will there be? At present this is undetermined – but we will start small (perhaps four) and build over time. As reference points, NASA has been engaging in Mars Design Reference Architecture (DRM) expedition planning efforts since the 1990’s aimed at sustaining a six-person expedition for about 500 days. We’ve seen serious permanent Colony plans for approximately 30-40. Ultimately we seek a permanent, close to self-sufficient, growing presence.
How much will this cost? Estimates for an initial landing of four first Colonists and support for two years are in the $20B range. We financially benefit from this being a private effort and the one-way approach. Add ten plus years of additional colonist and supplies, and its real money. But, if you can’t handle throwing away a 747 after each use, you have no business colonizing Mars.
Is it possible to raise enough money? Absolutely. This is the single biggest adventure in history and the opportunities for media rights sales, licensing and sponsorship have been estimated to be valued up to $150B. A few ground-truth reference points are the $11B paid for NCAA media rights and $1.18B for rights to London’s Olympics. At Beijing’s games, sponsorships sold in the $80-100M range. One X-Men movie grossed $750M in licensing fees. Crudely put, we are going to sell Mars in order to colonize Mars.
Can we really contract for transportation? Yes, at present we are basing plans on using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy (to be introduced next year) and Dragon Capsule combined with Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatables such as the BA330. Just for reference a Falcon Heavy flight that gets 6.4 tons to orbit starts at $83M – you can order one tomorrow. The private space industry can breathe new life into Colony ideas that have been in limbo.
How much equipment will we need to move to Mars? Another one that is impossible to answer right now. But as one yardstick, NASA’s DRM iterations have produced estimates ranging between 200mt and 400mt - which is now within the capability of current technology. Obviously an audacious goal at a time when reaching Mars with a rover is a truly major accomplishment.
What about surviving on Mars? The Martian surface is deadly in a number of ways – extreme cold, no breathable atmosphere, and scant radiation protection. But it is also the most hospitable place in our solar system outside of Earth. We have already successfully survived in Antarctic bases where the extreme low temperature is a balmy Mars high and Mars’ resources will be available for soil, minerals, air and water so the Colony does not need to be a closed loop.
Why a Mars-to-Stay Effort? Simply put, it’s the lowest cost alternative for making a financially successful program. A significant portion of the resources and cost of a two-way expedition are dedicated to its return. It also requires the development of new ascent technology. One-way allows an achievable mission profile of liftoff, transit and descent. At some point in the future (perhaps 10 years after the Colony’s start) a regular return capability may be put into place when local Mars resources can more easily be employed.
Will we find people willing to go? Pioneers throughout history have always stepped up to the adventure even if it has meant long-term separation from friends, family and culture. When a one-way approach was initially suggested, speakers were surprised with the steady stream of people who wanted to volunteer. The Colonist selection process will ensure that we select individuals who will bring needed skills and thrive under Mars conditions.
Can children be raised on Mars? There are radiation hazards in making the trip and living on Mars' surface that raise strong concerns about reproductive health. Our initial colonist may be people beyond childbearing years. But for a permanent effort to succeed we will need to successfully address Colony size, genetic diversity, childbirth, and rearing the first native Martians.
Will our planning need to be from scratch? No, there are a number of high quality organizations that have looked at Mars exploration and colonization for years. NASA is on its v5 DRM outlining plans for an exploration mission. The Mars Society has been conducting long-term duration mission experiments under Mars ‘like’ conditions. The Mars Homestead Project has been developing a detailed colony plan. We will not ‘reinvent the wheel’ but instead seek to ground our planning on these and other efforts.
How will we find the needed skills for this project? Simply put this is one of the most complex undertakings ever. In order for it to success we will need to attract the most talented and dedicated to our company. That means we will need to run a sophisticated business operation, led by experienced people and provide this team with adequate funding and compensation. We will compete for talent but we will have a pretty cool company to be a part of!
Are we going to exploit Mars? Not in the traditional resource grab or indigenous people decimation sense. There are no resources on Mars that are worth the extremely high cost of extraction and shipment to Earth and there are no inhabitants, of course. We will use the planet’s resources to support the Colony’s survival and growth but with a land mass roughly equal the Earth’s dry surface, it will be a long time before we have any appreciable impact on Mars.
What about polluting Mar’s environment with Earth contaminants? Environmental protection is an important concern that we will address in our planning. The search for life beyond Earth is a quest that commands attention and we will be in a strong position to contribute to that exploration.
What if we have to abandon the Colony? If some unforeseen reason requires us to terminate the Colony and pull the staff back to Earth, we will have contingency plans to enable the retrieval of all persons. However, this capability may not be possible for years after the first landing.
Isn’t this unbelievably dangerous for the Colonist? Yes. While we obviously would not venture out unless we believed it could be safely accomplished, no one should be under any illusions. This effort pushes our colonist, technology and financial ability to the absolute limit. This really is opening a new frontier - an epic, compelling, story.
Who else is involved with this effort? Anyone who supports the idea that a Colony is now possible and makes a pledge. This is a crowd sourced effort supported by patrons expressing their belief that Mars is obtainable. The greater our number of supporters, the more legitimacy we will have in the eyes of the financial markets, the media and potential employees. The difference between a lone voice and thousands sharing the vision and collaborating to make it happen, is why we like Kickstarter!
Why a Colony Planning Session? We need to validate the concepts by collecting input from some of the best minds that have considered the different aspects of Mars exploration and colonization and with those from business and media. With Kickstarter’s (like you) support we will hold a two-day session with leaders in their fields presenting their thoughts on colonist, transportation, fundraising, infrastructure and organizational capacity. Out of this will come our first draft of the plan, Colony Plan Alpha, and it will also begin the process of developing momentum for the Colony.
What happens after the Colony Planning Session? First of all we produce Colony Plan Alpha which reports on the Session and its conclusions. If validated, we will turn to developing the organization and fund raising for the next steps. We anticipate that additional stages will include the complex, in-depth, studies needed to create the full Colony Blueprint and to begin to shop that proposal to media organizations and potential sponsors. We will also be adding advisers and staff as we scale up the effort.
What if the Colony Planning Session does not validate the idea? Then we produce Colony Plan Alpha and provide a record of where we are close and where there is distance to cover. This will be an important contribution to Mars exploration and advancing the concept of a privately funded effort. Unfortunately it will mean that there will be no names inscribed on the Lander, no pictures with the colonist, and no party of a lifetime at the First Colonist Launch - our patrons run that risk. But if we hit our goal, with your help, the Colony Planning Session and Colony Plan Alpha will take place!
Seems expensive, why so much to make this happen? Have you run a quality business conference lately for 120-150 people? The largest part of our budget goes to underwrite our presenters; the remainder is spread across the venue, food and beverage, A/V, webcasting, materials, weekend assistance and Colony Plan Alpha production. This is a lean operation but designed to be successful – with your help!
What resources were used to develop this idea? Few of the ideas presented in this Proposal are original; we freely acknowledge the innovation and sound work around Mars exploration and colonization that has been expressed in the Journal of Cosmology (journalofcosmology.com), The Mars Homestead Project (marshome.org), and The Mars Society (marssociety.com). Good information about what’s now technically possible is also found at SpaceX (spacex.com), Bigelow Aerospace (bigelowaerospace.com) and of course NASA. We urge you to explore these organizations to learn more!
Disclaimer: None of the companies or organizations mentioned in this Proposal have participated in its development, have endorsed, or provided any material support for this effort. NASA video footage used under public license.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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