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 October 6, 2014
“Flex House” is Published

In this article IonMars shares personal thoughts derived from his Boy Scout youth that if you are not using ISRU at the beginning of Mars colonization you are “cheating.” Nevertheless, a flexible house plan (Flex House) will be constructed from materials imported from Earth or materials produced on Mars after industries have been established. Each Flex house will exhibit an arched roof covered by regolith. It will feature vertical sidewalls and double shell construction. Air will circulate between the shells to prevent condensation, which in turn will prevent mold colonies from forming. The structural elements of floor joists, wall studs, and ceiling rafters will be placed in alignment so as to facilitate air circulation around the house. Three practical sizes of houses will be 6, 8, and 10 meters wide and feature 1, 2 or 3 floors. An example one-floor plan exhibits amenities for 12 persons living in a compact space. Robot operators will utilize one room where they will control the robots operating on the surface.

Update September 25, 2014
Iron Ore Mining (III)“Iron from the Sky” Is Published

In the third of three articles on iron ore mining, IonMars addresses iron meteorites as the prime source of iron of Mars, the “ lowest lying fruit.” Information about these meteorites comes from three NASA rovers that each discovered one or more along its sojourn. The key question is whether iron meteorites can be found in sufficient quantity to supply a steel industry based in a Mars village. To answer this question IonMars proposes a meteorite survey to be carried out by explorers in advance of the first colonists. They will employ a robotic hovering magnetometer (HovMag) that will perform a systematic search based on a survey plan. Analyzing the survey results will require some knowledge of the meteorite collection device to be employed; an Earth analogue of this device is a garbage collection truck with a manipulator arm.

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.