Tesla and SpaceX Unlimited Scenario – Gigafactories that Makes Gigafactories on Mars

I, Brian Wang, make the case and projects out what a hugely impactful development it would be for SpaceX and Tesla to develop a complete gigafactory with its supply chain and sending those to the moon and Mars and elsewhere.

Those systems could have a one to two-year duplicating time. 40 years and two year duplication means 1 million gigafactories instead of the starting one.

Summary of the Concept

Tesla SpaceX Singularity

Gigafactories with integrated supply chain
Raw Materials gathered and Gigafactories out
Teslabots and Boring Company Mining Capable
SpaceX Starships Mass Produced
Factories and that build the factories transportable in a few thousand Starships (600,000 tons or less)

Tesla and SpaceX are Creating Complete Vertical Integration with a Simplified Civilization Supply Chain

Solar and Batteries scale completely
Self driving cars and self driving construction machines
More automated factories
Tesla bots able to do mining and factory work
Boring tunnels for mining and habitat construction

Speed of Gigafactory Replication?

Currently about one to two years.
No Mars regulatory delays
Replication needs to include the entire supply chain
Currently 8 hours to build a Tesla car
Assembly and other robots are similar mass as car

Replicated Gigafactories at 1 Billion tons per year

The world is at
1 Billion tons per year of steel now
Assume 100,000 tons for all machines, mines for complete GF/mines
10k Gigafactories per billion tons
1M Starships per year
100 Billion Teslabots per year

Industrialize the Solar System Based Upon Doubling Time

Industrializing Solar System with 26 Doublings
Double Every 25 Years – 650 Years
Double Every Five Years -140 Years
Double Every Two Years – 52 Years

1 Million Complete Factories
100 Million Starships Per year
10 Trillion Bots per year
1000 Terawatts of solar per year

1% Industrializing Solar System with 26 Doublings
Orbit, Cis lunar, Mars, Asteroid belt
Time Delays to Travel Out to Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud

This singularity kicks off when
Thousand Starships to launch one Gigafactory and its supply chain that can make more solar, batteries, bots, mining, processing, Starships and other gigafactories.

Background of Brian Wang

I have lectured four times at Singularity University. The Singularity University was created by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis. Ray wrote the Singularity is near. I have spoken a few times with Ray and Peter. They were interviews where I was performing the role of reporter for his website Nextbigfuture. Ray Kurzweil wrote the book the Singularity is Near.

I have given lectures on the nanotechnology track for four years in a row. They were annual updates on the developments in nanotechnology. This was done because I have written over 30,000 articles on science, technology and the future and stay up to date on all highly impactful science and technology. Ralph Merkle and Robert Freitas were the Singularity University nanotechnology track leads. I have met and spoken Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle have met and spoken with a couple dozens of times.

Robert Freitas performed a 1981 study for NASA on self-replicating factories on the moon. This would be including and transporting all mining and the factory machines for a complete closed or mostly closed-loop system.

I need to provide my background, technical background ont he concept of self-replicating factories so that you, the reader, understand that this is a well thought out and researched concept.

I am a SpaceX investor and is a member of angel investment groups including Space Angels and Allocations which each make many space investments. I have lectured at Singularity University and spoken at TEDX. He has been a speaker at various technology and business conferences. He was the keynote for an MJAA annual event. I have written over 30,000 articles on science and technology for his website Nextbigfuture.com.

Brian Wang: https://twitter.com/nextbigfuture
NextBigFuture: https://www.nextbigfuture.com/ &

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/nextbigfuture

I have been interviewed by Warren Redlich and Emmet Peppers to discuss Tesla, EVs and batteries. This is just to indicate that I have deeply researched Tesla, it technology and processes.

I worked for several years for a $50 billion corporation to create annual and quarterly enterprise reports, analysis and projections for the office of the CFO and board. I am head of research for the Allocations investment group. I am a top-ranking forecaster at the prediction site Metaculus.
Out of hundreds of resolved predictions, I have been correct over 80% of the time.

Note: This video not a prediction but it does show the power and scaling of this approach to solar system colonization and development. However, I think a great deal of this will and should happen.

Background on Self-Replicating Factories

Robert Freitas 1981 – A Self-replicating, growing lunar factory

Robert Freitas 1983- Building Athens Without the Slaves

An Architecture for Self-Replicating Lunar Factories by Gregory S. Chirikjian
Department of Mechanical Engineering Johns Hopkins University

NIAC Phase I Award: October 1, 2003 – March 31, 2004
Final Report, April 26 2004

Steel Making on Mars

Steel can be made in several ways on Mars.
Aluminum can be made.
Glass can be made.
Rocket fuel (methane) can be made easily from the Mars atmosphere.
Cement can be made.
Oxygen, water, hydrogen can all be made.

These are all of the heavy parts of SpaceX Starship and Cybertruck.

There are several likely options for solar panels and batteries and fuel cells.

The above list and other items can be sorted out with early larger scale unmanned missions by sending large and fast Cybertruck sized rovers then better prospecting can be done. 100-300 ton missions delivered to Mars in 2026 could perform more prospecting and test production. Slower portable production systems should be sent o start producing and stockpiling materials for later colonization.

The above list would be 95% of the finished product by mass. Localizing on Mars at 95% would mean 20 times more for overall colonization production. Starships could still ferry unlocalized needs of the Mars factories and colonies.

Here is a 2006 presentation on making steel on Mars.

Steel can be made on Mars from local ingredients, various options.
Concentrated carbonate deposits will be valuable – must search for them beneath Martian dust.
Methane Method has merit.
Uses well-understood and developed technology: Direct Reduction.
Methane probably manufactured in large quantities anyway.
Hydrogen Method attractive due to low cost of ingredients. Method and equipment needs to be verified and tested.
Carbonyl Method could be best. Effective for pure Fe, does not require flux. Need to verify processes for adding carbon.

Glass on Mars

Silicon dioxide is the most common material on Mars. (per Viking space probes). Silicon dioxide is the basic ingredient of glass. Glass products, including fiberglass, and structures could be constructed on Mars in much the same way as they are on Earth.

Cement on Mars

A 2012 Mars Society presentation on making cement on Mars.

Magnesium oxychloride cement is the preferred solution. Low energy input is needed and the raw materials are all over Mars.

Production of Water, O2, Fuel and Many Other Products on Mars Have NASA, Academic and Mars Society Studies

Production of consumables on Mars by Gerry Sanders 2021.

Known Materials on Mars

It has for some time been accepted by the scientific community that a group of meteorites came from Mars. They are actual samples of the planet and have been analyzed on Earth by the best equipment available. In these meteorites, called SNCs, many important elements have been detected. Magnesium, Aluminium, Titanium, Iron, and Chromium are relatively common in them. In addition, lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, niobium, molybdenum, lanthanum, europium, tungsten, and gold have been found in trace amounts. It is quite possible that in some places these materials may be concentrated enough to be mined economically.

The Mars landers Viking I, Viking II, Pathfinder, Opportunity Rover, and Spirit Rover identified aluminium, iron, magnesium, and titanium in the Martian soil. Opportunity found small structures, named “blueberries” which were found to be rich in hematite, a major ore of iron. These blueberries could easily be gathered up and reduced to metallic iron that could be used to make steel.

In December 2011, Opportunity Rover discovered a vein of gypsum sticking out of the soil. Tests confirmed that it contained calcium, sulfur, and water.

Using Local Resources on Mars and the Moon

NASA report on using Mars resources.

Most Prospecting, Excavation, and Consumable Production technologies, systems, and technologies have been shown to be feasible at subscale and for limited test durations.

* Drivers
‒ Hardware simplicity and life are as important as minimizing mass and power
‒ Hardware commonality with other systems (propulsion, power, life support, thermal) can significantly reduce costs and logistics

* Work still required to:
‒ Scale up production and processing rates to human mission needs (lab and pilot scale for terrestrial industry)
‒ Operate hardware and systems under relevant mission environments; Understand how to take advantage of the environment and day/night cycle
‒ Perform long-duration testing to understand hardware life, maintenance, and logistics needs
‒ Add autonomy to operations, especially for mining operations

55 thoughts on “Tesla and SpaceX Unlimited Scenario – Gigafactories that Makes Gigafactories on Mars”

  1. I think it would have been helpful to go over some of the previous body of work regarding ISRU, and before that the previous body of work on seed factories/minimum metal shops.

    Unfortunately for pure seed factory research, the only recent open practical work done has been by Daniel Ravenest and his cohorts. The closest analogs are the open source AgTech groups, which have a lot of overlap at the early stage/technical level

  2. You convert a few cubic km of metallic asteroids to thin sheet, and place them in orbit around Venus so as to block the Sun on the day side. On the night side they can be vertical to let the heat escape. The planet will cool on a 40-year time scale, due to the mass of atmosphere *plus* hot rock at the surface.

    As the temperature drops, so will the "scale height" of the atmosphere. High ground on Venus will preferentially become lower pressure and cooler first. So that's where you can start working at ground level.

    If we are lucky, Venus has the right kind of minerals near the surface to absorb some of the CO2 into carbonates. When the temperature reaches a desired level, open up half the sunward shades to get an earth-like flux, and use some of the shades on the other side as mirrors to produce a reasonable day-night cycle.

  3. Yar, printing isn't the essential element (I mentioned nano-tech, also, and there are doubtless other possibilities). Self-replicating, or near self-replicating is the main thing. Look for who would see themselves harmed by it (existing large-scale manufacturing and resource extraction operations and the harm doesn't need to be real, just perceived) and then expect the gloves to come off.

    The point being, it's not just enough to be able to build something. You also need to anticipate and counter the reactions of the folks who would seek to prevent you from doing it. This is important. For example: Certain parties felt threatened by the printing press and probably delayed and inhibited it from being all that it could be for over a century after it was invented in 1436.

  4. You use a bit of the carbon to construct a gas bag around the planet, with enough internal pressure to support a reasonable load, and the air above Earthlike. And just let Venus be Venus under everybody's feet.

  5. Making Tesla cars on Mars?
    Who are going to use them? Tesla Bots ?
    Shipping them to Earth can't possibly be competitive/energy efficient. First out of one gravity well and then down into another. Maybe with momentum transferring rotovators but hardly with rocketry.
    Cars are for humans and also requires a complete road network to be useful. Are we going to repeat that mistake on Mars or come up with something more efficient?

    Solar panels… Same thing. Seems better to manufacture and deploy them directly in space.
    Raw materials and energy for industrial production are probably more accessible on asteroids. Volatiles may be another story but less gravity makes logistics much easier. Icy moons are plentiful but a bit far away.

    A non chemical, high ISP drive system will be a game changer for industrializing the resources in space. My guess is than Musk is looking into something other than metalox engines for that stage of development.

    The lure of Mars is likely not to emulate/replace China as a production hub for everything mass produced. It has to do with philosophically higher goals like evolving life and intelligence itself. Evolution towards intelligence will make a significant leap by spawning off Earth and starting over. The primitive life forms fighting over pitiful resources on Earth can stay.

  6. The coolest concept for terraforming Venus must be the one where the carbon is harvested out of the atmosphere and particle beamed directly to Mars. Then Venus gets tempered and Mars gets warmer. Two for the price of one…

  7. Brian I only see one tiny teeny little problem in your entire equation…and that is ASML Holding N.V.
    This company is producing the factories churning out the silicon for tesla and all the other giants. It is singlehandedly responisble for the delayement of the technological singularity.
    What do you think could've been if China would have been allowed to buy one of their latest systems. They'd have reversed engineered it and churned out another thousand of them, instead we have companies fighting over intellectual property rights and paying billions of dollars for a machinery that could be easily mass produced were it not for greed.

  8. Bravo! To get started, Honey Bee and Queen Bee can capture the low hanging small NEOs that are yet to be found, they are so small. Make the magsails in Space from this material, avoid folding and launch stress on otherwise inherently flimsy design idea. The ISS efforts need material to work on now!

  9. "…Planet chauvinism is going out of style…"

    Agree very much. With the drive we saw commented on here,


    we have everything we need, "IF", we can do one maneuver. I would think this would be kind of hairy at these high speeds. If you could line up with planets and then rotate around the planet, (like NASA uses to speed up spaceships), to drive the direction towards the Sun with the drive off, then turn it back on to slow and stop at the orbit where you needed the material. This would also work for materials magnetically flung off the moon like O'Neill planned. It solves the problem of how you stop the material in place without using a large quantity of rocket fuel.

  10. Actually, chip fabbing doesn't have to be all that big if you're ok with using serial processes like direct write. A self-replicating system doesn't have to produce the latest node spacing, you know. Could probably build one with the chips we were making 10 years ago, if we had the other parts worked out.

  11. What's the plan for doing away with the 90 atmospheres of CO₂ and H₂SO₄ and restore the water that was lost with the runaway greenhouse effect?

    Venus is technologically quite out of our league to terraform, probably in the next two or three hundred years.

  12. Unfortunately, the minimum self-reproducing set of technologies probably includes chip fabbing, so it's likely to be a big one in any case.

  13. I'm not sure that hydroponics are suitable for all kinds of crops, but perhaps enough that the colonists can squeak by.

  14. There are experimental H2 consuming microbes that make acceptable livestock feed in fermenting style processes.

  15. The examples you give, computer chips and pharmas, are going to be largely made in micr0g, once the advantages are better understood. Perfect crystals anyone?

  16. The work I did for Boeing & NASA shows that 98-99% of space projects can be locally made, and the remaining 1-2% would come from Earth. Some materials are too rare to usefully mine in space. Earth has geologic processes that create concentrated ores, like the "black smoker" subsea vents. The other part of the 1-2% are hard-to-make items where it is not worth setting up to manufacture them. Examples are computer chips, pharmaceuticals, and genetically modified seeds. Those are vastly larger industries on Earth, and the products are low mass, so it is easier to just ship them than try to make your own.

  17. 3D printers are useful, but not the best method for all processes. What Brian has almost rediscovered is the "seed factory" concept, first described in:


    Rather than sending a Gigafactory to Mars, you send a starter set called a "seed factory". This starts making parts for more machines to expand and upgrade itself. At first it can't make 100% of its own parts. The remainder comes from Earth. But over time the percentage made internally goes up

    Mars has metallic meteorites sitting around on the surface – our rovers have driven past a number of them. They are an iron-nickel alloy. Add some carbon from the atmosphere and you have a steel alloy. A solar furnace can melt it, and sand molds can be used to cast basic shapes. Then machine tools can turn the basic shapes into finished parts. There's plenty of sand on Mars.

    Steel is the base of modern technology, but you need other materials too. So second-generation machines would be built to work with those other materials.

  18. Thanks for the additional material and links (that is good blogging!). Will check them.

  19. Excessive skepticism is can be just as irrational as uncritical optimism. That’s the sort of error made by antivaxxers, the anti-nuclear movement and various other anti-technology campaigns.

    No, it isn’t always necessary to actually see something happen to know in advance that it will happen.

  20. Actually, making orbit is not the tough thing. If he's willing to just leave the starship in orbit, (Maybe redesign it a little so that the spent starship was useable as habitat space in a space station.) he could skip a lot of the current complexity.

    You can make a pretty good argument, given that the move to stainless dramatically reduced expenses, for most of the launches to orbit being one way, aside from an occasional return mission to bring back dismounted engines for reuse. You get a better payload ratio.

    Mind, launch cadence is then limited by manufacturing rate.

    The real goals for the tests the bureaucrats have been obstructing was reentry, and catching. They could test the catch with just short hops, but as it is they're not even being permitted to do hop testing on the booster, just the Starship.

  21. Agriculture on Mars is probably going to start out, and remain until terraforming is well advanced, reliant on variations on hydroponics.

  22. "those favoring the status quo" don't want to hear about the end of territorial control. They refuse to acknowledge O'Neill.

  23. Sounds like we are talking about large scale general purpose printers, coupled with a resource gathering and processing function.
    First, we need one general purpose printer that can print a perfect copy of itself right here on Earth.
    Sure, it will be expensive to make that one, and it will probably cover many acres, initially. But that's the only one we ever have to make. Everything after that is just upgrades. Eventually they might fit in the trunk of your car, if they can make scaled up versions of themselves.
    Then too, even in vast extinction events, some part of the human race might survive without falling backwards, if these are everywhere, crammed with plans in their databanks.
    Unfortunately, there is also my own prediction number 29 that I posted on KurzweillAI in 2012 when they were having a prediction challenge of sorts for the year 2037.
    29. Constantly mounting resistance (legal, regulatory, economic, social, etc.) by those favoring the status quo over the use of mushrooming DIY technologies (3D printing, nano-resource gathering, etc.) that threaten the primacy of the owner classes.
    Already, there are folks claiming use of these devices is unsafe for amateurs, environmentally unsound, leads to health problems, makes it too easy to violate patent and copyright law, compromises the supply chain by introducing inferior "knock-off" parts, and that they may promulgate the creation of proscribed items such as weapons, equipment for illegal labs, and so on.

  24. I guess that soil production is the problem that still needs solving. I recall an article you wrote some time ago about using fungi to turn regolith into soil, although I have no idea whether that went ahead or simply floundered, as most research is wont to do.

  25. So far they only show us dancing human in a costume, we don't even know if their robot will be more advanced than Boston Dynamic's. Starship development slowed down and rocket is still theoretical. We don't know if such thin rocket will even be able to reliably survive Earth reentry. Even one successfull orbital launch means not that much. The main point Musk is repeating over and over again(and is righ) is reusability. So we can only start celebrating after one Starship will be proven to be reusable 10-100 or more times. Robot doing one simple task in factory won't impress me, we already have such robots – industrial robots, doing repetetive tasks and they work 24/7. You can see it in Tesla factory vids and vids from any other large manufacturers. Nothing new. We should be focusing on practical achievements/capabilities not form/look of the robot.

    My point, let's not give them credit that early, they are still non working, not proven, theoretical projects. Could end up as vaporware. Similar to underground tunnels, hyperloop, non existent Cybertruck(besides few prototypes), Tesla Semi, 10-100x faster boring machines, and few others.

    Some people say Starship development slowed down because of gov, but I saw just few days ago some critical, huge pipe in Starship collapsed. If this rocked was launched it would certainly blow up. It seems that SpaceX hasn't solved many basic problems(critical huge pipes collapsing) and more time to work on them is good for them.

  26. "Steel Making on Mars"

    A key thing in achieving self-replication is adapting designs to the materials that are easily available.

    Here on Earth we have a huge, largely mature industrial ecosystem, large enough for specialized niche products, and doing almost everything on large enough scale to be efficient. So we don't often settle for the 2nd best material.

    Steel has some nice properties, and for some applications it's essential. But it will be a lot harder to make on Mars than on Earth; No convenient oxygen atmosphere and coal deposits! Not the scale to run even a single blast furnace, until Mars' population is in the many millions.

    What's easy on Mars? Well, you're already running Sabatier reactors. It's not much of a challenge once you're doing that to create higher hydrocarbons and polymers. Polyethylene, for instance, is a cinch if you're already doing Sabatier reactors at scale. And once oriented, it's a high performance polymer.

    I'm suggesting that on Mars you might be avoiding use of steel, (Except recycled steel from rockets sent on one way trips…) in favor of polymers and ceramics.

    A real self-replicating system will ruthlessly pare back the variety of materials in use, in favor of what's easy to make, even if it results in some of the systems being lower performance. Speaking biologically, we should be aiming for lichen at first, not the Amazon rain forest. If you get my drift.

    What's the MINIMUM self-reproducing set of technologies?

  27. The distraction of another planet, Moon or Mars, as the place to continue ISS micr0g ISMRU is looking pretty silly. Why do that, just as we are just getting AWAY from forced g. Every single thing that can only be done in micr0g proves O'Neill. Another distraction I have seen is the claim that there is not much stuff in orbit. The implication is that we need the stuff on Mars to proceed. Wrong! We need the stuff in orbit first, where it is easier, then consume Mars later if needed.


  28. Planet chauvinism is going out of style. 50th of Physics Today O'Neill is just a few years away. ISS is "slam dunk" proving value of micr0g ISMRU. Do stuff in Space. Where any g is easily made, IF needed. Not on planets. Where micr0g cannot exist for more than seconds. ISS micr0g ISMRU with exponential growth HAS STARTED! Also, Mars is soooooooo tiny. "Is the surface of a planet the right place for an exponentially expanding civilization?" Just look at the mining machines compared to asteroid harvesting Bees, for example. Remove the planets being used in the plan in the video and it goes much faster. Why try to build stuff ON the Moon? Remove Mars from the end of thy nose, and the whole thing suddenly is visible. Space!

  29. I added the research from NASA, Mars Society and other on using Mars resources. What is the working industrial ecosystem missing pieces?
    Steel, cement, water, fuel, glass, aluminum, cement are certainly solved. I think batteries, solar panels have solutions. Maybe computer chips will have to sent from earth. The less that is needed to be sent then the faster and more scaled Mars production will be.

  30. I don't believe that is really feasible in the time frames and with the approaches described. There are too many empty spaces and gaps to fill between here and there.

    A working industrial ecosystem has a lot more parts than just biped robots, boring machines and gigafactories.

    All of which are complex problems by themselves.

    I agree an industrial ecosystem made only of robots could be much simpler than one providing stuff for humans, with its nearly limitless list of often wanton products and services.

    But assuming they could just build a gigafactory on Mars without solving a long list of hard intermediate problems before seems to be extremely naive. approaching wishful thinking.

  31. Replication is a reasonable standard for defining a self sufficient Human civilization on Mars. Mars would be Earth civilization’s first offspring. It’s self sufficient when and if it can in turn replicate itself without direct assistance from Earth.

    Humanoid Teslabots would make the replication of technological civilization much closer to attainable.

  32. Be cool if in my lifetime, if someone, somehow, landed on Mars and returned
    (Without the Andromeda Strain of course).

  33. Yes, but not slow enough that he couldn't have made at least two or three attempts using Raptor 1 (Possibly SN20, 21 and 22) if he were allowed to launch from Boca Chica. Would they have made orbit? Probably not. Would he eventually need to focus on raptor 2 and stage 0? Most certainly. But we'd have certainly seen more progress.

  34. Nice article and interesting concept, Brian.

    Don't worry too much about posting your bona fides. You are doing just fine. Self-promotion is sometimes warranted, especially when establishing credibility and authority of knowledge. Professionals do it all the time. The humble brag is an art…

  35. That doesn't mean I am not paying "ANY" attention.

    Too much state interference is not good. They also slowed down new iterations of Starship. That wasn't shut down from feds. Elon himself said progress with Raptor engine was too slow and then he took over.

  36. "He got that NASA contract and then they slowed down Starship testing."

    Are you not paying any attention? HE didn't "slow down" Starship testing. The feds shut it down for going on a year now. He'd probably have made orbit by now, otherwise.

  37. I missed the embedding of the video. I added my video and the summary of the concepts

  38. You're still referring to yourself as "Brian" half the time and "I" the other half.

    Not that Freitas isn't deservedly a big name, Diamandis as well and Kurtzweil is great at self-promotion (though he pretty much just stole his ideas from Hans Moravec's much earlier book, /Mind Children/), it seems negectful to talk about self-reproducing factories without mentioning your own long-time commenter Dani Eder (danielravennest) and his long work on the Seed Factory Project.

  39. I am a little dissapointed by 2029 Mars timeline. Musk is becoming like Nasa or SpaceX's competitors, slow, rich and fat. He got that NASA contract and then they slowed down Starship testing.

    I guess sending humans on Mars is too risky and now he tries to develop Tesla Bot. I guess he will send robots – Tesla Bots there first.

  40. it is in the video. I gave my background so that people will know that this is credible. Did you want me to screenshot out the core concepts from my video so that I can be read in this article, instead of looking at the video?

  41. Perhaps a little less about Brian and more about gigafactories on Mars would be better. No offense. Brian writes good articles, but there needs to be balance and more news than bio.

  42. Speaking about yourself in the third person isn't a great look, just saying. It comes across as pompous.

    That said…

    I have long argued that self-replicating factories are THE key technology for the conquest of space. Life beyond Earth's very convenient biosphere, that we specifically evolved to live in, is highly infrastructure intensive. Breathable air needs to be manufactured, maintained, contained against serious pressure. Food has to be grown without a congenial environment for plants and animals. Even gravity needs to be artificially provided!

    The ratio of infrastructure to population must be much, much higher in space, to allow enough elbow room to retain sanity, let alone health.

    This will be a very marginal affair so long as production is dependent on human labor, we need to break that link, automate everything, and close the loop so that the infrastructure base can grow exponentially with very little human input besides direction on where and what to build.

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