We can only learn by experience.

As I roll out these missions it becomes apparent how much should have gone into development of the components before we even get to Mars for our first trip.   Each of the items deployed in the first 2 missions will undergo rigorous testing prior to launch to Mars and when it gets there, like with the current rover missions we are learning a lot about the issues that being on mars introduces and how different designs and materials work.

The First Human Colony Location

Missions 1 to 3 establish different areas for building a colony.  We don’t know where the humans will go yet.  Part of this phase is scouring the planet to find the right place.  What should be considerations in picking a first colony location?

The location should be adjacent to resources critical to the survival of the colony such as water supply, key minerals and proximity to other materials.  The discovery phase here will help to identify the ideal location.

After the first criteria above is satisfied we need to find a location suitable to building habitats.  We have not decided yet whether our habitats will be overground or underground largely.  We have not figured out the ideal way to build these habitats or what materials to use.   The choice will depend on how easy some materials are able to be used from Mars itself and what materials we use for cosmic radiation shielding.

We may invent materials or figure out how to create magnetic fields of sufficient strength to protect the astronauts above ground.  We may discover digging or tunneling is difficult on Mars or we may discover it is extremely easy.   In any case it is likely we will need to use a lot of Martion soil as part of the shielding thus we will need to be able to bulldoze and haul soil to make habitats no matter how or where we build them.

Lastly an important consideration is to shield for occasional SPEs which are high radiation events from the sun.  During these events colonists will need to have enhanced shielding so they will need a special area with extra protection.   Possibly we would have sufficient shielding and when an SPE comes we consume a lot of power from the batteries to put up a strong magnetic field around a good part of the colony to deflect the SPE.

Unless we can manufacture the electro-magnets needed or the material for shielding easily on Mars it will probably have to be shipped from the Earth and these things are likely to be heavy so I will allocate significant weight to that when we get closer to the colonists arriving.

Nevertheless we will want to deliver some of these to test before and we will want to shield some things from SPEs and cosmic rays before humans arrive such as animals, some plants, possibly some sensitive equipment.

Mission 3 Going to the south pole  (Earth Weight 150,000 lbs)

Mission 3 Manifest is identical to Mission 2

It is very curious to me that in all the 30+ missions to Mars we have not gone to the poles even though it is expected there are significant resources there including tons of frozen CO2 and water.   It has been known for some time that the North Polar cap has strong water content and that below the CO2 cap of the south polar region is water.   It is also widely speculated and there is significant evidence of water frozen probably very near the surface.

The advantage of going to the South Pole is that with the simplest mining method of all, simply scooping the surface and applying a heat source possibly from something as simple as a blanket similar to what is used on swimming pools to heat them vast amounts of CO2 and Water could be harvested easily.  Melting parts of the polar caps would result in CO2 going into the atmosphere of Mars and while it is ludicrous to imagine this could change the climate of Mars by itself it wouldn’t hurt.

The polar caps because of the water is also likely to be one of the most interesting places to look for life.

I suspect we have been worried about the effects of a rugged terrain on the craft and if they would survive the landing.  This is less of a concern with the Mars Lander because it will land under its own power it can avoid many problems.

We should have good visibility between GPS satellites launched earlier around Mars, Mars Observer information and James Webb to find a safe spot to land in the poles.

mars 800px-Glacier_close_up_with_hirise-thumb-570x369-127867

The manifest of Mission 3 is not different from mission 2.   It will perform the same functions setting up power station, deploying drilling apparatus, power systems, etc…

I believe 3 colonies or points of presence on Mars will be a good starting point and give us a good base of operations to explore a large part of the planet.

Mission 3 by being located at a polar area will end up becoming a critical resource since I believe that the poles are likely to have many needed minerals and materials readily available.

It is assumed that many of the flatter areas (based on geological formations) have been lakes before and that there is water ice beneath the surface.   Similarly the large white spots are mainly CO2 but below the CO2 there is a belief exists a lot of water.

Here is a representation of what ice may be beneath a set of 3 craters on Mars:


Missions 1 to 3 goals are the same for each potential colony site

  1. We explore for life signs with the 9 autonomous life rovers each with dual thermo-nuclear power sources they can traverse initially near their home bases but eventually start moving across the surface of the planet in many directions.   It may take 10 years of roving by these vehicles to search for life and collect evidence.
  2. We will have established permanent recharging depots and warehouses for materials and spare parts across Mars to facilitate longer travel by colonists.  We will have redundant storage and redundant materials that will collect and process materials closeby.
  3. Eventually the more processed materials can be delivered to wherever we choose to be the first real colony for humans.
  4. We will explore, analyze, catalogue, inventory samples from drilling all over the surface in the regions covered by the mission sites.   We will understand what materials are available under the surface for mining, how much.
  5. Be in a position to have a proven system to generate the materials for bootstrapping ourselves.

Mission 4-6 goals

  1. extend each of the first 3 sites proving out real colony needs such as  mining, farming,habitat building
  2. Start to accumulate materials for later processing and prove out reserves and ability to mine
  3. Learn the ways to best manipulate the surface and what underground building techniques to use
  4. Test out different ways to provide shielding
  5. Test our power systems and resupply adequacy

Missions 4 Real Construction and Mining Activities (Earth Weight 150,000lbs)

Mission #4  Location: MIssion 2 location   Mining Centered Mission


1200KW mobile batteries in various sizes (25,000 lbs)

500KW Ultra-Capacitor Battery (20,000 lbs)

1 Battery and equipment transport platform robot (3,000 lbs)

2 Hauling bucket robot (10,000 lbs)

2 Bulldozer robots (24,000 lbs)

2 Warehouse storage modules  (35,000 lbs) w storage modules

1 Mobile Construction Robots and unpackers (5,000 lbs)

Miscellaneous Supplies and Spare Parts packing material (28,000 lbs)

catepillar d9


The mining, digging, drilling exploration operations are going to be very energy intensive which is why I deliver more batteries to this site.  The new heavy building machinery will need it.

The mining activities consist of a combination of exploring previously mapped and drilled regions where we have discovered potential key areas with access to materials.    We will be able to dig to discover the materials.   Whatever material we gather we will want to haul it to places where it can be processed easily.  We won’t have the processing equipment yet but we can start accumulating and figuring our the best way to use the equipment we have to extract what we need.

I have included additional warehouse storage in case some of the materials such as water can be stored in the warehouses.  Other material if it is non-volatile could possibly remain piled up near the mission site.    The warehouse will be able to handle storage of a variety of materials and be able to disgorge it upon demand.

It is not clear how autonomous mining and digging can be done.  Normally a human is involved in these operations because things happen along the way, the variability in underlying surface make some adjustments constantly necessary.   Presumably we will test programming these things on some areas in the desert or in Antarctica to simulate conditions but nothing will substitute for real experience.

In this location we don’t believe initially we will need any special environment in the warehouses except for the storage of water or fuel we might make.  Subsequent missions will provide refining and processing machines.

Habitat Construction

However we do habitat building we will not be bringing completed units to Mars.   Such buildings are necessarily large with thick walls and will have to hold enough room for at least 20 to 30 people or more.  There are several options.

  1. Underground construction
    1. offers the ability to potentially build very large structures and have ideal protection from radiation.  I have to believe at least some of the facilities will be underground.  Possibly the space needed for protection during SPE’s would be underground.
    2. We have no idea how difficult or what issues we will face in underground construction.  The Mars rover 2020 with its underground radar will give us some ideas what we will find under the surface.  We will have many copies of this radar on the 9 upgraded rovers we’ve distributed during missions 1-3 will be scanning for areas that might be supportive of either mining or underground construction.
    3. If we determine underground placement is ideal we have to understand the best way to build such facilities.  It could be that specialized equipment would be helpful on later missions.
    4. 300px-ColonyWithDomeAndUnderground
  2. Overground construction
    1. If underground is no good and we have discovered good materials adjacent that can be used to build large walls for protection we may build structures that look something like these:
    2. mars-780x488
    3. We may essentially end up building structure not unlike the early pyramids and find that Mars bricks formed with some solvent and glue material we can find relatively easily available would be a good way to construct initial buildings.
    4. 29E71A6600000578-3136480-image-a-1_1435085880840
    5. The assumption in many drawings of Mars colonies is that bubble domes will be standard but while it is possible to do domes for farms the colonists will have to live primarily in shielded facilities either covered with dirt or underground unless we can find a material to shield us, find a cure for cancer or be able to create our own magnetic fields of sufficient intensity.
    6. Even if we find such a way to build bubbles there is the problem of piercing the bubble or wear on the bubble.  We’ve seen how caustic Martian soil is.

Mission 5 Farming  (Earth Weight 150,000 lbs)

Mission #5  Location: MIssion 1 location   Faming Centered Mission

1500KW Ultra-Capacitor Battery (50,000 lbs)

2 Greenhouses and water, air and organic supplies (50,000 lbs)

2 Robot farming machines (10,000 lbs)

Miscellaneous Supplies and Spare Parts packing material (40,000 lbs)

I don’t know enough about farming to make many intelligent comments.  I suspect we would need to have 2 greenhouses to support two different types of crops and test 2 different soil and other combinations.  We will need to bring everything on the trip to farm including soil in case we find it simply too difficult to use Mars soil.   We will need all the nutrients and a sufficient amount of air.

The Greenhouses would have to be made of an extremely tough flexible glass like compound I am guessing to prevent damage from wind storms.  This would be an experiment to determine how the material handles over time and determine what additional engineering might be helpful to make it cheaper, more protective, gather more sunlight or whatever.     We might want to have mirrors around the greenhouses to collect extra solar energy for the plants and to help keep the environment warm.

The reason for the larger ultra-capacitor is the need for heating and continuous reclamation.  Even at night and during the day during storms temperature and environment must be maintained.  Not knowing the thermal properties of the bubble makes it a problem to estimate the size of greenhouses and power requirements.  This also plays to the nutrients to be carried from Earth.

We will want to try martian soil.  We already know there are potentially some very difficult compounds in the soil that may make plants hard to grow.   If Martian microbes exist this further complicates using Martian soil.   Ideally we would bring some animals subjects along with this mission to try the food with that we grow after it checks out in every other way.

Because of the need to maintain Earth level living conditions this mission will have to bring along air processing equipment, water reclamation, heating units and other devices.  We may want to try to mine CO2, water and oxygen from the immediate areas soil rather than carrying it all with us.




Mission 6  (Earth Weight 150,000 lbs) Water, Fuel


Mission #6  Location: MIssion 3 location   Water, Fuel Centered Mission

1200KW mobile batteries in various sizes (25,000 lbs)

1000KW Ultra-Capacitor Battery (40,000 lbs)

1 Battery and equipment transport platform robot (3,000 lbs)

1 Large drilling robot (15,000 lbs)

2 Warehouse storage modules  (30,000 lbs)

1 Mobile Construction Robots and unpackers (5,000 lbs)

Miscellaneous Supplies and Spare Parts packing material (50,000 lbs)

This mission will be located at the south pole.  It is thought that the chance of water is highest here.   We know CO2 is prevalent.

This mission will try to make fuel as well as other basic supplies like oxygen and water.  The co2 will be useful for numerous purposes. We might transport the co2 to the farming site for use in the greenhouses.  We add up to 1 part per thousand of co2 into greenhouses on earth to promote plant growth.