One of the first major events of the century was the construction of the Mars beanstalk. This was vitally important for Martian economic development: the construction of a proper orbital infrastructure, the terraforming programme and immigration were all being constrained by the high cost of interface transport. This was made worse by the unreactive nature of the Martian atmosphere, which necessitated the use of rocketplanes rather than more efficient scramjets.
The UN had been planning a beanstalk for some time but had been holding off construction until the uncertainty caused by the Hellas Revolt and the various Martian terrorist campaigns had abated. The contract for the construction and operation of the beanstalk had been awarded by the UN to Nexant Technology, a transnat predominant in the space industries, in 2095.
Nexant had considerable experience in the use of hard-vacuum assemblers to assemble megastructures such as solar power satellite arrays. These nanos were readily adapted for producing the anisotropic diamondoid filaments used in the beanstalk cable. In 2101 work finally started on the much-delayed tower.
The effect of a beanstalk on the economics of surface-to-orbit transport, with full counterbalancing of elevators, is to greatly reduce the surface-orbit energy cost. Almost all the energy expended in raising a cargo is regained by lowering another. In addition there is a much reduced mass overhead: the energy needed is supplied by superconducting cables, whereas a rocketplane needs to carry fuel to lift its fuel mass.
The development of Mars was massively boosted by the beanstalk. With an Earth population now stable at 10 billion, Mars represented lebensraum, and so the population boomed. Escarpment cities grew and became more numerous. The terraformation programme was started in earnest, with carefully designed ecosystems of geneered plants seeded at many locations. Later massive chemical factories on the surface and 'collision mining' of short-period comets began to thicken the atmosphere.
The law and order situation never improved; martial law was only partially revoked. Internment and disappearances remained legal and common- the authorities claimed, of course, that the innocent had nothing to fear. Nexant and the UN largely controlled the flow of mass media information back to Earth, so no massive campaigns were mounted in support of the Martian Terrorists.
Mars: 1 2 3 | 4 5 | 6 | Now
The future of Ad Astra