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Mars City State Design Competition Announced

The Mars Society is pleased to announce the holding of an international contest for the best design plan of a Mars city state of 1,000,000 people. There will be a prize of $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second, $2,500 for third, $1,000 for fourth and $500 for fifth. In addition, the top 20 papers will be published in a new book “Mars City States: New Societies for a New World.”

The city state should be self-supporting to the maximum extent possible – i.e. relying on a minimum mass of imports from Earth. To make all the things that people require on Earth takes a lot more than 1,000,000 people, therefore participating teams will need to augment both the amount and diversity of available labor power through the use of robots and artificial intelligence.

Teams will need to be able to both produce essential bulk materials like food, fabrics, steel, glass and plastics on Mars, and fabricate them into useful structures, so 3-D printing and other advanced fabrication technologies will be essential. The goal is to have the city state be able to produce all the food, clothing, shelter, power, common consumer products, vehicles and machines for a population of 1,000,000, with only the minimum number of key components, such as advanced electronics, needing to be imported from Earth.

As noted, imports will always be necessary, so teams will need to think of useful exports – of either material or intellectual products that the colony could produce and transport or transit back to Earth to pay for them. In the future, it can be expected that, using the SpaceX Starship or similar technology,  the cost of shipping goods from Earth to Mars will be $500/kg and the cost of shipping goods from Mars to Earth will be $200/kg. Under these assumptions, it is the job of the team to design an economy, cost it out and show that after a certain initial investment in time, money and effort, that it can become successful.

It is not necessary that the city state be built all in one location on the Martian surface. It can be done that way or one or more central cities can be set up, supported by outlying bases on Mars or its moons, as needed.

In scoring city state designs, points will be allocated on the following basis:

  • 30 points technical design: What engineering systems will be used? How will they work?
  • 30 points economic: How can the city state be made economically successful?
  • 20 points social/cultural/political:  What should Martian society be like? What kinds of schools, arts, sports and other activities should there be? How, given a fresh start, can life on Mars be made better than life on Earth? How should the city state govern itself?
  • 20 points aesthetic: How can the city state be made an attractive and enjoyable place to live?

The Mars Society contest is open to all people from around the world. Participants can work alone or as part of a team. Each contestant will need to submit a report of no more than 20 pages presenting their plan by no later than June 30, 2020. A down select will then be made to the top 10 proposals, whose authors will be invited to present them in person in front of a panel of judges chosen by the Mars Society at the 23rd Annual International Mars Society Convention in Los Angeles in October 2020.

To help develop ideas, participants might want to consider a number of sources including SpaceX plans, NASA data, Robert Zubrin’s books “The Case for Mars” and the “The Case for Space” and concepts for 1,000 person Mars colonies developed in response the Mars Society’s 2019 Mars Colony Prize contest published recently in "Mars Colonies: Plans for Settling the Red Planet" [paperback or kindle].

A website for registering for the Mars City State Design Competition and uploading reports will be posted shortly.

Good luck!

[Image: SpaceX]