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Look out Mars, the Humans Are Coming

Today NASA released a series of satellite photograps of Mars, which strongly reinforce the theory that there is (or very recently was) liquid water on the planet's surface. This is exciting.
Water on Mars?
So, thanks to NASA for taking the photos, but let's look forward now to private investors taking the next step of actually settling Mars. A recent article from The Space Review examines how this could happen:
If the private sector is to capitalize on Mars from the earliest stages it must start sooner rather than later. There are many nations and possible competitors to think about in the effort to make Mars viable, and, like with any business venture, if the competition gets there first, they can easily corner the market. ESA, China, Russia, and other nations intend on making it to Mars in the next few decades. Businesses would be wise to consider this in respect to Mars as well. Mars will not lay empty of human endeavor indefinitely. We should never take that for granted. There are many plans on how to get to Mars, some ranging from $2-billion one-man shots right up to $500-billion government programs. None of us know with certainty which plan will be used first, but the options are out there for any entrepreneurial businesses to take advantage of what is currently a wide open market.
Notice how the 12-figure boondoggles are always the government plans. For a good explanation on how we could get to Mars on a relative shoestring, see the writings of Robert Zubrin, including the now-classic 1997 volume, The Case for Mars. And for specifically free market thinking about space exploration, see the book edited by our good friend Ed Hudgins, Space: The Free Market Frontier. Finally, in the spirit of the Christmas season, you'll want to fire up your DVD player for one of my favorite Mars-themed holiday movies of all time: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.