I know what I meant. Apparently I didn't do as good a job of explaining it as I thought I did.
I know what you meant as well. You meant: " I think you're Mars mission relies on Handwavium to convert chemical transformation formulas into actual non-laboratory processes." It's pretty clear. It clearly does _not_ mean: "you won't be able to get the water".
Electrolysis systems for 6 people on the ISS are going to be radically different in scale than those for a bunch of colonists.
That's the key word: scale.
Uh, yeah. No kidding? You mean you can't use the same resources you would for 6 people to maintain 12, or 24, or 48? Well gee, shucks, you've really shown me the error of my thinking there!
Seriously, what are you thinking? If anything, the efficiency and redundancy of these systems is going to go up with scale, if anything. At worst, you still only have to scale the amount of support equipment linearly with the number of people you intend to support. How is "scale", some sort of smoking gun?
Now, you claim that I must have thought that, by handwavium, I thought you meant something like "chemistry will be different on Mars". I didn't, and I thought that should have been obvious, but then you go and write things like:
The equipment (and spare parts, and maintenance, and assembly and repair, etc) needed to do all that stuff will be much more complicated on Mars than you think.
When it's already clear that we're talking about equipment that already exists and is already in use terrestrially and in space. Which seems to suggest that maybe you really do believe that chemistry is somehow different on Mars.
On Earth, we can send out some geologists or a surveying crew, rent or buy heavy machinery, parts, drilling mud, explosives, etc of a variety of forms from a jillion different sources.
Sometimes. Other times we have to plan things out very carefully or there's no chance of salvaging the endeavor and thousands of tons of expensive equipment gets left behind to become a playground for penguins. Other times, things go wrong enough that everyone dies. Even here on Earth.
OTOH, every bit of every kind of stuff needed on Mars will have to be sent at the beginning (whether on one ship or multiple doesn't matter), and that will drive up the cost of the expedition to absurd heights.
Yes, plenty of stuff will need to be sent at the beginning. That's no surprise. I'm pretty sure I've said as much myself elsewhere on this thread. If you're really trying to bootstrap a viable colony on Mars, you spend extra to send both the supplies the astronauts will need to survive without in situ resources and you also send the equipment they can use to try to live without using those supplies. Since the technologies are pretty proven by now, however, it's pretty clear that you can recycle every drop of water at least a few times. So you can get by with about a ton of consumable supplies per astronaut per year (which includes the water, food and oxygen that they need to consume). Right now, the Falcon heavy looks like it can realistically get a kg to Mars for around $11,000. We'll triple that and say 33,000 per kg. So that's $33 million per year, per astronaut of consumable living supplies. A lot of money, to be sure. Relatively speaking, however it's not that bad viewed in the context of a manned mission to another planet.