A Humans to Mars mission might cost as little as $30 Billion. Google has $40 Billion in the bank, Apple has $50 Billion in the bank, Microsoft has $80 Billion in the bank. Intel has $50 Billion in the bank. IBM has $100 Billion in the bank. HP has $110 Billion in the bank. Dell has $30 Billion in the bank. Cisco has $70 Billion in the bank. Oracle has $50 Billion in the bank.
Google should announce tomorrow that they invest $5 Billion in the Mars Direct 2016 mission (3 years ago, they made fun of the idea in the Google Mars Mission April 1st joke), $2.5 Billion now to Space X to develop the heavy-lift within 3 years. Google would publicly ask Microsoft and Apple to join in and each also invest $5 Billion in this. They can argue for it to their shareholders by saying 1) they can monetize the new patents that come of it 2) they can get each 1/3rd of all the advertising that can comes out of 7 years of live HD video streaming of the whole project. The number of years that this project will be under development, then launch and the 2.5 years of travel for the first crews. The live HDTV broadcast can be sent all over the world, they can recoup their investments just from the TV and live streaming advertising.
So now you've got $15 Billion from private US tech companies. The other $15 Billion can get paid like this, $3 Billion from EU, $3 Billion from China, $2 Billion from India, $1 Billion from Brazil/Japan/South Korea, $3 Billion from the US (Obama can do his Mars speech) and $3 Billion from the oil-rich Middle-east. The project would be an international technological collaboration, like the CERN LHC project, instead of a race.
Here are some of the reasons why I think US Silicon Valley companies should get bold and announce the financing of a major mission to send humans to Mars with 5-10 years:
1. These tech companies want to attract more scientists and engineers. The big investments means they can for example expand their R&D and combine it more with NASA.
2. These tech companies made unreasonably large amounts of profits these past few years and decades. If they all agree to spend the same large amount on this mission, that would not place one in disadvantage against the other in terms of how much of their cash is being spent. They owe it to society to give back at least for the scientific enthusiasm that it would generate for the world.
3. Those are basically investments in educations and universities. By those being US investments they would invest in US universities, all the Government has to do would be to open up for that H1B visa for all scientists and engineers from China and India coming in to work on that project.
4. The US army spends $1 Billion per day, for the price of just 4 days of war, they can fund their share of the worlds biggest scientific project, and arguably such a project can help to bring peace, as Humans can think bigger, look up to space, and think about life instead of fighting meaningless wars over limited natural resources.
Why am I a long time supporter of the Humans to Mars project and member of the Mars Society?
- I believe it's worth looking for fossils or proof of previous life on Mars, would explain a great deal about why life appeared on Earth. This is the most fundamental question for Humans and should be the most important question to try to answer.
- Just the work put into the project will bring us new technologies to solve our Energy and Pollution problems.
- It will help solve our political problems, would be the strongest message for peace.
- Robots on Mars are awesome, but in 1 day, a Human Geologist on Mars can walk around and look through as much ground as the Mars Rovers did in the last 6 years. The only way we can realistically look for proof of life on Mars is by sending Geologists on the ground there and have them look for fossils and other proof over the period of 1 and a half years, which is the minimum time they would have to stay there anyways before being able to fly back to the earth, then it takes 6 months each way.
What do you think about the idea to send Humans to Mars as soon as possible? And why couldn't the richest tech companies and billionaires not pay a significant part of it to get things going much sooner than politicians and their 4-year election cycles care to invest in on the longer term.