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Home | Blog | How the Private Sector Might Colonize the Red Planet

How the Private Sector Might Colonize the Red Planet


Der Spiegel reports on the Mars One project to colonize Mars with funding coming from an expected $6 billion in broadcasting rights in what would be a sort of interplanetary Truman Show.  Over 700 people are competing for four slots to make the trip 10 years from now, even though "a return ticket is not part of the deal." I don't know who these 700 people are, but they provide a nice illustration of the subjectivity of value, given that

Mars is not a destination that sounds particularly attractive. It is bitterly cold and dust storms sometimes envelope the entire planet for weeks at a time. Its sights are also limited to gorges that are several kilometers deep and enormous volcanoes, one of which is the size of Poland and stretches 26 kilometers (16 miles) into the Martian sky.  For settlers there, though, the Earth would be but a tiny point in the heavens and if something happened, there would be no help available. The flight takes at least six months — and the two planets are close enough to each other for such a trip only once every two years.

That some might choose to live in such an environment is easily understood within the Austrian framework which argues that "the incentive of human activity is always some uneasiness and its aim always to remove such uneasiness as far as possible, that is, to make the acting men feel happier…."  How much better are such projects given that they do not rely on coercive redistributions of wealth, as is the case with NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and all other state organizations that view space as simply an untapped area of potential control. So go for it, colonizers, even though I may be cheering you back here on earth, poolside with gin-and-tonic in hand, wondering if, someday, there might actually be a Mises Institute Mars explaining homesteading to a distant generation. I am on Twitter.

Christopher Westley a professor of economics in the Lutgert College Business at Florida Gulf Coast University and an associated scholar at the Mises Institute.

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