IT would not exist without the space program. My entire industry owes its existence to the space program. It currently provides about 1/4th of the worlds economy.Me
Let’s talk about the Space Program for a moment and why I think going to Mars is desperately important for us economically. My industry, IT, spawned directly out of the space program. Its primary impact is estimated at 11.5 trillion US dollars globally and occupies about 16% of GDP globally. Its secondary impact, though e-commerce, production optimization, etc. is approximately 50% or another 6 trillion US dollars and 8% of the GDP globally. Apollo 11 happened in 1969. Yet here we are 50 years later and the industry that the space program spawned is now the 6th largest segment in the US economy and one of the largest globally. I can’t even begin to imagine the world without IT. The rapid industrialization of India and China simply wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Singapore would still be a third world country. Everything would still be on paper. No search engines. No cell phones. No apps. No internet. Companies like Facebook and Uber couldn’t even exist. Neither would Apple, Intel, Dell, Microsoft, HP, Google, Amazon or so many other house hold names.
I have no idea what new industries that Mars exploration will bring, but I have no doubt that the new technologies that we will have to develop to get there and back again with spawn lots of them. We are already seeing the impact with 3D printed houses. This is technology straight out of the Mars projects. We invested 28 billion to get to the moon and its netted us trillions in return. In 2019 alone, the ROI was just over a trillion dollars. We made our money back in the first year. Computers and Electronics were already contributing 28 billion dollars to our economy. Every years since then has been pure profit. My calculations say that the US has recouped 3 and half TRILLION dollars off that initial investment and it is still paying dividends. You can check the economic data on the BEA website for yourself.
Mars One budget is conservatively estimated at 6 billion. Even if it’s double that, its far less than we spent to get to the moon. Elon Musk has is estimating it at 10 billion. Mars One is lower because they don’t plan to return. As we get better at this, the price will continue to drop and our reach will get longer.
Since I don’t know what it will be, I’ll call it X-Tech. X-Tech will generate 100 billion in new tax revenue over the coming decades. That’s money we can use to invest in living on Mars, or seeing if Io (Saturn’s moon) is habitable. Once we reach Io, maybe be look at Europa next. As we figure out how to get to Saturn and back, we’ll develop Y-Tech. Y-Tech will become a new segment that is also generating 100 billion in tax revenue spread over a few decades. When we try for Europa, we’ll develop Z. See where this is going?
Eventually, we’ll get ourselves off this rock. Why? Because if we don’t, sooner or later something is going wipe humanity out as a species. I can guarantee you that we either reach for the stars or cease to exist. I can’t say how it will happen exactly. Options are we already know about are many and varied. The entire universe is an intelligence test. Are we smart enough to figure out how to keep it from killing us?
We’re overdue for an ice age and we barely managed to contain the last couple of plagues that broke out. Most of Yellowstone National park is the caldera of a single volcano that’s over due. for an eruption. It covers an area of 30 x 45 miles. The aftermath would likely include a massive famine as well as radical climate changes including a volcanic winter. There’s no shortage of extinction level events and as long as we keep all our eggs in this one awesome basket, we’re at risk.
A dinosaur killer will come back around eventually. If we manage to dodge everything else, its only a few billion years until the universe starts to collapse back into the original black hole taking us with it unless we can either out run it or figure out how to stop it.
Mars helps us a little, but its not enough. We have to reach for the stars. Survival isn’t the only reason though. We might be able to harvest interstellar lithium to make batteries to solve the energy storage problem without trashing our big blue marble.