Mars: Money and Colonization
The habitability of Earth is not guaranteed and humanity needs a back-up plan to ensure our survival. While not everyone agrees that Earth is doomed, there is no harm in planning for the future. Although the Moon is the closest object in space to Earth, some people have their sights set on a red planet instead.
In 2012 Mars One shocked the world when they announced their intentions to create a human settlement on Mars by 2025. Mars One is aptly named, as it was always planned to be a one-way trip to the red planet. To date, Mars One has not sent any supplies to Mars; nor have the 100 individual volunteers selected for the one-way trip started the required intensive training. Mars One Ventures, the commercial side, is bankrupt. The non-profit Mars One Foundation is still active and backing the dream of a human colony on Mars.
While unrelated to Mars One, commercial space program SpaceX, helmed by the space enthusiast Elon Musk, is still aiming for a Mars settlement. Space travel and colonies on other worlds are a personal dream for Musk. The CEO’s original outline said humans would be on Mars in 2035; his updated 2019 plan states as soon as 2024.
In 2017 the United Arab Emirates also threw their hat into the ring for a Mars settlement. Perhaps the most realistic, the Mars 2117 Project’s estimated timeline spans a full century. The UAE will certainly have time to secure the full budget and iron out any potential issues, fatal or otherwise.
Even with all the technological advancements over the past 7 years, early life on Mars will be filled with hardships. No one is naive, or ignorant, enough to think that deaths will not occur. Radiation, lower gravitational levels, a toxic atmosphere, and lack of readily available sustenance are some key hurdles to overcome before the settlement could begin to thrive. Once those issues are solved, the settlement could take root and begin to freely expand across Mars’ surface.
Earth will be financially responsible for its Martian baby until the colony has grown enough to fend for itself. Furthermore, there is only a safe window of time to send support to the red planet roughly every 26 months; assuming the weather permits a launch. However, there are countless unanswered questions:
- In a hundred years from now, who will be footing the bill for Martian supplies?
- Earth may step in and send relief aid, but what if the red planet needs a perceived luxury item such as candy?
- What will the financial customs be on the planet by the time SpaceX sells one-way tickets to the average earthling?
- What currency will be implemented? The USD does not seem appropriate to use on Mars.
- How will money on Mars be transferred to and from Earth?
Although the individuals living on Mars could potentially barter amongst themselves, physical space will be at a premium. Bartering, unfortunately, doesn’t readily solve interplanetary payments. Perhaps the simplest solution is cryptocurrency. Wallet addresses can be linked to a QR code, which in turn can be tattooed onto skin and printed onto clothing or other material; a simple scan will send payment. Furthermore, as data travels at the speed of light, sending a payment from Mars to Earth should not take any time at all.
Although it may not happen in the next decade, the question is no longer if humans will colonize Mars but when. After all, humans have been looking to the stars long before recorded history. We’re still fascinated by space and the unbridled potential it holds.