But a technological manufacturing and mining colony will need to grow to over 100,000 people to offer adequate goods and services to become even more self-sufficient.
What's the cost of emigrating to Mars? With today's rockets a one-way Mars ticket would cost $40 million. Zubrin thinks this cost can be shaved down to about $300,000 per passenger if an advanced interplanetary transportation system is in place.
Pioneers will have to sell all their assets and cash-in their life savings to buy a rocket ticket. They could only carry along a couple hundred pounds of person items. (Just imagine the extra baggage charge!) Zubrin envisions about 100 Mars immigrants per year for starters.
Once colonists arrive on Mars, land would be dirt-cheap. Even if sold at only $10 per acre, Mars real estate would be worth $358 billion. But buy now. This value will skyrocket to $36 trillion if Mars is eventually terrformed to have a breathable atmosphere, Zubrin predicts.
But who would go to Mars? If America's history is any example it would be people with little of value to leave behind on Earth. Colonists might be yearning for a pollution-free, crime-free, Utopian society.
But for Marsopolis to effectively survive in the deadly hostile conditions colonists might choose a quasi-military rule, authoritarian bureaucracy, an Israeli-style Kibbutz, representative democracy, a hierarchical corporate structure, or some amalgam of these Earthly social experiments. And if the government got unpopular, it might incite a terrorist or emotionally unstable individual to sabotage life-support equipment, dooming the entire colony.