State of The Consortium
- Just to provide an update on how things are going everyone, while working towards a mission design I have been putting together the beginnings of our consortium concept. While several ideas have been discussed over the years to fund humans to Mars, the reality is that those based on relying on politics is in for a very long wait, and ideas to make a profit just from media rights or sample sales are far from the mark for what is needed to fund such a massive program.
As the ISS, A380, CERN and other consortiums have been formed to fund long term future looking ideas and programs, so the same thing is a natural fit for Mars. The difference with our concept is that is strips down the mission to its component parts and phases and seeks to create revenue streams (spin-offs) deliberately from these technology developments.
From energy production/supply, to water/food/air production, radiation protection, gravity systems, communications, IT, spacesuit/spaceship materials developments and more, this program can indeed make a profit through each step.
I'm not sure where the members of the Mars Society or Explore Mars are at, but its time we all banded together to push this program forward and that we looked at it from a hard nosed business point of view.
With the right companies involved, this program can make a start and can achieve its goals.
I know that some here may be dissapointed with the designs of late with surface mobility concepts and such but from where I stand these designs are rather conservative, allowing for orbital infrastructure to be set up first around Mars (in keeping with conservative pathways today) and landing smaller packages to avoid too many issues with EDL.
The consortium would use this and 2 or 3 other designs to focus around and to provide some direction for the structure of the mission, so it's not like we are just going to push one idea or design. The companies that fund this Consortium will ultimately decide which design they choose.
As to the hope of commercial companies being involved in this sort of program it is worthwhile to note that the Global Financial Crisis has indeed had a profound negative impact on many companies in the world today. So the concept of generating revenues from technology R&D needs to show how it is realistic in quite some detail before this Consortium concept is accepted.
The good news is that I am slowly working through that detail now but it would be great if others pitched in with ideas. For example- What are the potential spin offs from hydrogen storage technology being matured? (for Earth and Mars). Who would be interested? Where is the market for all these technologies?
I believe they exist- Such as hydrogen powered fuel cell cars, now in development and working hard on a convenient supply infrastructure. The market will be massive for these vehicles IF someone can crack this challenge. So it goes with many other areas IF inventions can be perfected.
The Mars Consortium can deliver profits to partners and investors alike on this basis:
For each technology milestone a special percentage of funds can be attached each year thus accelerating each field.For example 20%.
Each partner/investor invests in a large pool of funds which allots equal amounts of R&D funding to ALL areas of the program each year thus spreading the investment across multiple areas of opportunity, a very wise investment. Any profits generated from any single area would be divided among the partners/investors as it came in. As a 5 to 10 year program this would deliver many areas of profit potential for the consortium.
It may all sound like crazy dreams to some, but guys, this Consortium concept (in whatever shape it takes) is the best way to get humans to Mars in the next 20 years.
If you are sitting around waiting for governments to act, good luck to you, but Mars for humans is not in their sights at this time.
- Well that's been my argument for a long time and so I fully support the consortium idea.
I don't believe that space will ever be conquered by governments and indeed it shouldn't be.
Governments are there to serve their people, that's the people within their borders and those living or working overseas, it isn't to go off and spend massive amounts of tax payers money on colonies. Indeed the very word colonial is today seen as a dirty word by many and I don't think its really in the interests of any government to invest in sending their best assets outside of their own borders.
NASA is a fantastic organisation and continues to be a shining example to people around the world.
I'm from the UK, we don't have a NASA, people in America should be very proud of that organisation and what its achieved over the years.
Having said that, it's not NASA's job to tackle international political issues, to colonise other worlds, to argue over resources or the countless other reasons for mankind to leave Earth.
The only people who have any meaningful business in space is, well, business and their customers, all the free people of
Earth. Sure governments can fund experiments and research but that won't take us into space as a people.
I don't expect the UK government to pay for me to go to Antarctica any more than I expect them to pay for me to go to Florida or Mars.
Business by contrast is global, it isn't confined to the borders of any nation and isn't subject to the insecurities of any one government.
This freedom is what makes business the logical vehicle to really conquer space.
Sure governments sponsored sailors to explore the world and discover new countries but it was the industry that followed that set up trade routes and created the markets and reasons to keep going back. Its one thing to discover India, its another to discover tea and set up trade routes to bring it home.
I would suggest that space is the natural remit of business. Space is an infinite amount of resource and opportunity, untouched and ready for innovate business to make use of.
So as a civilian, if I want to go into space then it will be business who takes me there as a paying customer.
As someone keen to see mankind benefit from the potential of space, I'm looking towards industry to find the reason to be there and to develop the innovate solutions to take us there.
I'm not going to waste time campaigning for any agency to take me there purely on the grounds that I want to be there or some wooly long term argument that over the coming million years we could be wiped out by a meteorite. That's never going to be a vote winner.
The industry is changing quickly and a lot of business is moving into the space sector or contemplating moving into the space sector. Governments around the world are investing in business in the space sector and groups are forming to allow companies to leverage their individual strengths towards new products and commercial opportunity.
If we want to move the focus to Mars we need to work with business to move their focus to Mars. Failure to do this will make it easy for business to focus on LEO opportunities or the Moon.
MarsDrive needs to work work with business, help to bring business together and form concrete plans for exploiting opportunities on Mars and in the steps required to get to Mars.
Yes we should continue to work with governments and agencies such as NASA on setting policy but MarsDrive is an international organisation with connections into agencies and business and we should put far more effort into those business connections, helping to generate interest and opportunity in Mars.
It's a very exciting time in the world of business in space, for once the deck is stacked in our favour with real government support and a migration of business towards space creating a real and viable market to operate in.
I appreciate this view isn't shared by everyone but I think there's room for a push through government and the private sector towards space and if MarsDrive can help things along then it'll be a real service to everyone.