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How Startups from Earth Can Pave the Way for Martian Cities

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If future adventurers can successfully establish communities on Mars, how will they sustain themselves financially? What will be the primary export from the Red Planet? Could it be Martian deuterium, utilized for fusion fuel back on Earth? Perhaps raw materials extracted by asteroid miners based on Mars, as illustrated in the “For All Mankind” TV series? Or will future Martians rely entirely on subsidies from Earth?

In Robert Zubrin’s new book titled “The New World on Mars,” the president of the Mars Society proposes that Mars’ most valuable product will be inventions. “We’re talking about creating a new and potentially extremely inventive branch of human civilization, which will benefit humanity as a whole enormously,” he expressed in a recent episode of the Fiction Science podcast. “But moreover, we’ll play from that strength to make money.”

“We are in the process of drawing up business plans for two major initiatives — one in the artificial intelligence area and the other in the synthetic food production area,” Zubrin stated. “And the idea is, fairly soon we’re going to be presenting these business plans to investors, with the idea of starting companies devoted to these two different technological ideas that we have put together.”

Zubrin anticipates that these ventures could yield significant profits, with the potential for the AI concept to be a “billion-dollar idea.” These initiatives are designed to address critical issues for Mars that also have valuable terrestrial applications.

Robert Zubrin is the founder and president of the Mars Society. (Credit: Mars Society CC BY-SA 3.0)

Income generated from these initiatives will be shared between investors and the Mars Society, contributing to the establishment of a Mars Technology Institute. Plans are already in motion to set up a headquarters for the institute, potentially in the Pacific Northwest or in Colorado, where the Mars Society is currently headquartered.

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The notion of utilizing earthly ventures to support extraterrestrial undertakings is not novel. In 2015, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, mentioned that profits from the Starlink satellite internet network would be channeled towards funding a city on Mars.

Zubrin posits that the challenges of establishing settlements on Mars will drive innovation, similar to how challenges in American history led to groundbreaking inventions. He envisions Mars settlers developing nuclear fission and fusion plants, devising solutions for resource conservation, and optimizing food production amidst the planet’s harsh conditions. These innovations could then be exported back to Earth.

Zubrin’s advocacy for Mars settlement has been a constant theme in his numerous books and television appearances over the years. With the rise of SpaceX and the development of Starship, a reusable super-heavy-lift launch system, the prospect of sending humans to Mars is becoming increasingly plausible.

“The New World on Mars: What We Can Create on the Red Planet” by Robert Zubrin. (Diversion Books)

Zubrin’s vision for Mars settlement is optimistic, emphasizing the opportunities for creativity and innovative freedom that Mars offers. He believes that Mars settlers will be driven by the intrinsic value of creation and freedom, rather than material gains.

For additional reading recommendations from Robert Zubrin, visit the original version of this article on Cosmic Log.

The Fiction Science podcast is co-hosted by Dominica Phetteplace, an accomplished writer based in San Francisco. To discover more about Phetteplace and her work, visit her website and explore her writing in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine.

Don’t miss out on future episodes of the Fiction Science podcast available on various platforms like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify,, and Pocket Casts. Please rate and subscribe to stay informed about upcoming episodes.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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