Martian iron ore mining through to steel-making, oxygen generation and water liberation, and then onto steel equipment fabrication, assembly and operation on Mars can start an expanding spiral of Martian activities for NASA. For example, it can produce more power generation equipment, such as re-orientable support structures for solar photovoltaic panels and steel solar parabolic dishes. Increasing electrical and thermal power generation on Mars is especially useful because almost all activities for human settlement of Mars need electrical and/or thermal power and all of these are limited (or given scope to expand) by the amount of such power that can be delivered. Steel-making and new power generation equipment can each facilitate an expansion of the capacity of the other, to create a coupled spiral of expansion of capacity. Expansions in the capacities of steel-making, steel fabrication and power generation, will also expand oxygen generation and water liberation capacities, but, also, expand capabilities in other areas; for example, panel- and scaffold-making for pressurized habitats, habitat plumbing and fixture manufacture, compressor, engine and spare part manufacture, and on. Steel-making, steel fabrication, power generation and robots can deliver Mars mission robustness by creating spare parts and extra parts that can be put to use to create settlement system reliability, self-repair and settlement growth.
The proposal's Martian iron ore processing could be applied to iron ore processing here on Earth. However, the economics of different methods of iron ore processing on Earth will be different from those on Mars, and it is unknown whether there is economic value for the process here on Earth. However, Martian steel-making uses zero carbon dioxide emissions iron oxide reduction. This realization has already caused an investigation into other methods for doing zero carbon dioxide emissions in iron oxide reduction here on Earth, that use renewable energy inputs, and this has caused the proposal's PI to draft patent applications for a new iron oxide reduction methods.