Recent changes in the air strongly suggest that we are going to Mars to colonize. But we are not going to colonize Mars because we can make a lot of money in Mars real estate and we are not going because colonization will make an exciting reality show for TV. We are going to colonize Mars because it is the next step in developing a space-faring civilization. As Elon Musk has said: “There’ a fundamental difference, if you look into the future, between a humanity that’s out there exploring the stars…compared with one where we are forever confined to Earth until some eventual extinction event.”

As lifelong advocates of space exploration, we see NASA and SpaceX developing the giant rockets that will take us to Mars in the near future. We also see plans for landing on the surface of the planet and setting up an exploration mission. But after stepping down from the Mars Colonial Transport, what’s next? What we don’t see is an assembly of well-tested devices and equipment for setting up a colony. Above ail; we don’t see a set of detailed instructions for colonists to follow in carrying out a colonization plan.

This website was established to help NASA and SpaceX by developing a handbook for colonists. When NASA or SpaceX lay down a plan, we will incorporate it as our own. However, where the exact procedure is not yet determined, we will specify a construction strategy and the equipment needed to carry it out. By coincidence the author has compiled a lifetime of blue-collar and white-collar careers that allow him to visualize what is required to set up a Mars colony and to employ the necessary equipment.

Please incorporate these ideas into your own plans; they are not patented. If we propose an idea in error we will throw it out and revise the handbook. Critique the handbook; you will make it better.

Then press “go” for launch!

Roy Paul (IonMars)

July 2014

Update September 10, 2014
Version 1.1 of “Pioneer House Building” Is Published

The new version of “Pioneer House Building “ alleviates the problem of sintering as a method of joining basaltic stone blocks, which could cause cracking if not done carefully. In this new version epoxy resins will replace mortar, a water-based product that will not work on Mars. Because the resins harden only in a certain temperature range the building process is more complicated. IonMars spells out a number of additional procedures, such as preheating blocks in an oven and maintaining pressure and temperature during curing. Additionally, this version delineates more details on how to construct, assemble and deploy a portable scaffold for building a standard Mars stone house. It also describes the construction of a floor using foundation blocks and epoxy resin. Optionally, the reader may examine IonMars’ analysis of air containment and tensile strength in the house, which shows a large safety margin.

Update August 28, 2014:
Rewrite is Coming

IonMars is currently rewriting the article “Pioneer House Building.” His participation in the forum on Specific Mars Development and Planning has helped to identify a problem in one aspect of house building, namely, sintering the edges of stone blocks to seal them together. Too rapid of heating may crack the stone. While slow heating a wider area may ameliorate the problem, the procedure is unproven. Meanwhile, three companies have proposed epoxy resins for this purpose. The revised article will not only incorporate resins, but will also expand on the details of construction, including some patentable ideas.

Stone houses still appear to be the best alternative for colonists just stepping off a Mars lander. Other good ideas for using ISRU for construction will require more facilities, additional equipment, and more investment. These bigger, better houses will develop in the second phase, called Colony Expansion, which corresponds to the development of the iron and steel industry.

Update August 10, 2014:
Iron Ore Mining (2) is published

Synopsis: This is the second of three segments addressing iron ore mining. As seen from space, Mars displays many weird dune fields, some of which will contain fine-grained magnetite iron ore. A magnetic field survey will be conducted to locate dune fields with a high concentration of magnetite dust. The regolith that represents a potential source of high-grade ore will be gathered and processed through a two-stage operation, consisting of high-volume dry screening followed by high-volume magnetic separation. This processing mini-plant will be located at a base camp in the vicinity of the dune field and will function like the base camps used to mine hematite. The author expresses his concern about certain magnetic dunes that might be dangerous.

Update August 6, 2014:
Iron Ore Mining (1) is published

Synopsis: This is the first of three article segments addressing iron ore mining. it also marks the beginning of a new section of articles called Colony Expansion. In this segment IonMars describes how the discovery of iron spherules composed of hematite iron ore will be translated into a small-scale mining operation. A series of base camps will be set up to process blueberry-containing regolith by means of a dry screen separator. Colonists (miners) will conduct forays from a base camp to collect blueberries. They will employ one Mars Utility Vehicle with manipulators to brush the spherules off rocks and onto the regolith. They will use a front-end loader to clean debris from the regolith and a second MUV to handle tools and equipment. On a second foray they will scoop up the spherule-containing regolith and load it into a dump truck, which will carry it to the base camp for screening. When enough screened blueberries have been collected the miners will haul them to a blast furnace.