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The cost of living...on Mars

A mock up of Mars-One's plan for 2016 - a demonstration mission lands supplies on Mars

2018 - A rover determines the best location for the settlement

2023 - The first crew settles in the colony.

Kai Ryssdal: Now that the new NASA rover Curiosity is sitting there all fat and happy on Mars, one does begin to wonder: What next?

Because after the robots come the people, yes? What would it take to send humans to Mars? And make it so they could stay?

Marketplace's Sally Herships tells us.


Sally Herships: You think the fees for an extra suitcase at the airport are pricey -- try a trip to outer space. Just to get a couple of pounds of goods to Mars costs about $100,000 (one kilo). And the same goes for transporting people and all their luggage.

Jim Keravala: Let’s see you’re going to have irrigation, water, power, life support equipment, transportation.

Jim Keravala is with Shackleton Energy. It’s a company that plans to harvest and mine water on the moon to use as fuel for space travel. He says colonizing Mars will cost hundreds of billions.

Bas Landsrop: It’s much easier to keep humans alive on mars and make them thrive there than to try to get them back.

That Bas Landsrop. He founded Mars One, a private company that plans to colonize the planet by 2023. Shipping is so expensive, Landsrop says, Mars One is planning to grow its own fruits and vegetables.

Robert Zubring is president of the Mars Society. He says the planet is also packed with resources.

Robert Zubrin: Mars is red because it’s loaded with iron oxide. The place is basically an iron mine.

There’s also aluminum, copper, silicon and the possibility and maybe even water, which means potential savings on inter-planetary shipping. Sending dehydrated supplies to Mars costs less.

Zubrin: You take a pound of spaghetti, it’s dried out. And yet a pound of spaghetti can cook a meal for four people.

But Zubrin says whatever we spend our immediate pay back won’t be what happens on Mars, but what happens on earth. Inspiration to boldly take our economy where no economy has gone before.

I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

2018 - A rover determines the best location for the settlement

2023 - The first crew settles in the colony.

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