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Assuming only plausible advancements in science, a Martian colony is established before the end of the century. (Sooner if possible). What materials would be needed in regular shipments from Earth? How often would those shipments have to come? (Based on plausibly-sized transport space craft)

What sort of time frame would be possible before the Martian colony was truly self-sufficient enough to declare independence from their Earthling overlords?

No FTL. Ships use an energy - > thrust drive such that matter is not expended in generating thrust. Solar or nuclear power is enough to move ships around. Earth has a moon base and orbital stations and shipyards. Most ships belong to the Earth Space Navy, but there are a few rogue ships that may prey an an undefended transport.

Mars has a valuable resource that Earth wants and therefor it funds the colonization effort. Mars wants trade as equals rather than being a colony that must pay tribute to the motherland.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is you main question ?: What sort of time frame would be possible before the Martian colony was truly self-sufficient enough to declare independence from their Earthling overlords? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Jan 26 '15 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, will bold to highlight it. $\endgroup$ – Red_Shadow Jan 26 '15 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ the others are kinda related but would also make good questions on their own. I think it's better to ask them separately. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Jan 26 '15 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of What is the soonest we could possibly have a self-sufficient base on Mars? $\endgroup$ – Telastyn Jan 26 '15 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Telastyn while the question would be a duplicate, the accepted (!!) answer totally forgets the address the "self-sufficient" part of said question, so they are related but not a duplicate: in order to be independent, you definitely need to be self-sufficient. $\endgroup$ – o0'. Sep 2 '15 at 8:59
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This is one of those "it depends" kind of questions. But it's really a pretty good one.

"Mars has a valuable resource that Earth wants and therefor it funds the colonization effort. Mars wants trade as equals rather than being a colony that must pay tribute to the motherland."

This puts us squarely into Imperial territory: the concept of the "wealth pump". An empire exerts control over a foreign territory in order to extract wealth in some form. In this instance, it's defined as a single resource.

It's kind of simplistic, but probably useful for present purposes, to say that there are are four main methods of imperial control:

  • Force: direct military action. This is pretty obvious. Historical examples abound. Given the difficulties of interplanetary combat, it might not enter into the picture here.

  • Force: withholding necessities. This one is much less common in Earth's history, but clearly a factor here, when Earth can simply stop sending basic supplies that are necessary for the Mars Colony's wellbeing.

  • Financial compulsion. This is the primary technique that the present-day American empire uses: legal and monetary systems of unequal exchange, enforced via such instruments as transnational banking systems and the International Monetary Fund. I mention it because I'm sure that the Earth - Mars conflict you are seeing would involve legal and financial arrangements of this sort.

  • Religious or ideological control. You don't mention this one, and it probably wouldn't make too much sense in the context. However, the longer the timespan we're looking at, the more likely systems of ideology are to grow up around the situation.

To answer your question: How long would it take for the Mars Colony to become able to defy the authority of Imperial Earth?, you need to first answer the corollary: How do the Martians get it done? This is in turn worked out by analyzing Earth's control over Mars.

The Martian goal is "trade as equals, rather than being a colony that must pay tribute". This means that Mars has the initiative: until the Martians do something, Earth will be likely to remain satisfied with the situation it has already set up.

To dig a little more into the Martian goal, here are some characteristics that would be necessary:

  • The four means of imperial governance noted above must be collectively more expensive than they are worth. To take the military example: the cost of interplanetary military expeditions would be very high, even with the reactionless space drive you posit. When does someone in charge on Earth stand up and say, "Why do we keep blowing money out of the airlocks? Can we get the stuff some other way?"

  • None of the four means of imperial governance can be overwhelmingly decisive. For example, if Mars depends on shipments of water all the way from Earth, Mars isn't going to be in much of a position to do anything about the situation. So you need to work out how the Martians will be able to sustain an independent existence.

  • Earth's desire for the Martian resource must be high enough to provide a strong incentive to come to terms with Mars; but not so high that Earth is willing to pay enormous prices in order to get as much as desired.

So, there is the Martians' desired strategic end state. How long will it take the Martians to get it done?

In my opinion, you have enough flexibility built into your world here that you can pretty much make it take as long, or as short, a time as you please. Between your ability to modify social, economic, and political conditions on Earth; your ability to tweak the characteristics of your space drive and your precious Martian resource; and your array of Mars Colony scenarios of population and industrial capacity; you could easily set this up to run long or short.

Decades?

Centuries?

Up to you. Your world will support these outcomes.

Honestly, now you get the fun part: playing with different parameters to set up a piece of invented future history that is intellectually absorbing, and satisfyingly dramatic. :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ Well yours is a much more comprehensive answer. Mine is the cliff notes version. :) +1 $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Jan 27 '15 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ @bowlturner I do also like this answer - I upvoted because it's saying, with less detail, a lot of what I put into my answer. Hence, useful to me. :-) $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Jan 27 '15 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ Withholding necessities is not a particularly rare way for historic empires to maintain control. One could argue that most early civilizations where Hydralic empires - maintaining control by controlling the water needed for irrigation; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_empire $\endgroup$ – Taemyr Sep 2 '15 at 8:11
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A very large part is how valuable does Earth think Mars and it's resources are? The more important, the longer it will take, less then less. If we get a small colony there say 5-10,000 people and all it does is cost to keep them around and there is a small tourist economy, They might become independent much faster, because it would be less of a hassle to let them buy what they need and not have the administrative overhead. In as little as a couple dozen.

However, if they had an incredible mining opportunity, say something we need for space travel, cheaper to get it off the surface and abundant. Then it will be a colony will have to be very large and feel disenfranchised and that decisions being made don't reflect the good of those living on Mars, then it could take a 1-2 hundred years.

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  • $\begingroup$ I do like this answer - I upvoted because it's saying, with less detail, a lot of what I put into my answer. Hence, useful to me. :-) $\endgroup$ – Bill Blondeau Jan 27 '15 at 1:57
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if I were you, I would use as a example how long did it take to America (the continent) to gain independence from European powers, I would say it took about 200 -300 years between Columbus reach America and most of American countries being independent.

I would not expect Mars to form a single country/nation. Maybe colonies from USA would gain independence before colonies from China, or even company colonies.

Do the math on how long took to travel by sea from Europe to America and how long would take to travel between Earth and Mars and you can get some ideas.

I would match Columbus "discover" of America to an state of Martian soil terraformed or autosufficient, as you cannot fight your imperial master if you depend on it for food.

However you can fight your current imperial power with help of another imperial power (British helped South America colonies to gain independence from Spain)

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