Case for Mars

Case for Mars

4.8 4
by Robert Zubrin
     
 

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Since the beginning of human history Mars has been an alluring dream—the stuff of legends, gods, and mystery. The planet most like ours, it has still been thought impossible to reach, let alone explore and inhabit.

Now with the advent of a revolutionary new plan, all this has changed. Leading space exploration authority Robert Zubrin has crafted a daring…  See more details below

Overview

Since the beginning of human history Mars has been an alluring dream—the stuff of legends, gods, and mystery. The planet most like ours, it has still been thought impossible to reach, let alone explore and inhabit.

Now with the advent of a revolutionary new plan, all this has changed. Leading space exploration authority Robert Zubrin has crafted a daring new blueprint, Mars Direct, presented here with illustrations, photographs, and engaging anecdotes.

The Case for Mars is not a vision for the far future or one that will cost us impossible billions. It explains step-by-step how we can use present-day technology to send humans to Mars within ten years; actually produce fuel and oxygen on the planet's surface with Martian natural resources; how we can build bases and settlements; and how we can one day "terraform" Mars—a process that can alter the atmosphere of planets and pave the way for sustainable life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Human settlement on Mars need not await the development of gigantic interplanetary spaceships, anti-matter propulsion systems or orbiting space bases, assert the authors of this exciting, visionary report. Instead, the "Mars Direct" plan-developed in 1990 by astronautical engineer Zubrin, and presented to NASA, where it has won supporters-calls for sending a crew and their artificial habitat directly to Mars via the upper stage of the same booster rocket that lifted them to Earth orbit. Then the crew will live off the land, growing greenhouse crops, tapping subsurface groundwater, manufacturing useful materials, constructing plastic domes and brick structures the size of shopping malls. Geothermal power would be tapped from hot regions near once-active volcanoes. Zubrin, senior engineer at Martin Marietta, and Wagner, a former editor of Ad Astra, weaken their case by arguing that a nascent human civilization on Mars will revive Earth's frontier spirit and American democracy, saving Western civilization from technological stagnation. Nevertheless, their detailed blueprint makes a fast-track mission to Mars-with an estimated price tag of $20-$30 billion-seem remarkably doable. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Zubrin, a senior engineer with Martin Marietta, and science writer Wagner (Inside Compuserve, New Riders, 1995), here present the case for Zubrin's Mars Direct plan for sending manned missions to the Red Planet in the near future. Zubrin proposes to lower dramatically the lift-off weight, and thus the cost, of manned Mars missions by using off-the-shelf hardware whenever possible but especially through a conceptual breakthrough that centers on using in situ Martian resources to manufacture the rocket fuel needed for the return journey. This would eliminate the requirement of hauling the total fuel load from Earth, thereby reducing the cost NASA's "business as usual" approach of $450 billion to $50 billion. It's a visionary proposal, but Zubrin makes a convincing case, arguing that eventually humankind will terraform Mars to make its climate more earthlike for future generations of colonists. The recent discovery of possible ancient Martian microbe fossils, plus the launch of the unmanned Mars Surveyor mission this fall, will likely create demand for this title. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Kirkus Reviews
Zubrin is an aeronautical engineer at Martin Marietta, Wagner the former editor of the National Space Society's magazine, Ad Astra, and together they make a forceful argument for the exploration and settlement of Mars.

Zubrin has long advocated the "Mars Direct" plan, which could get off the ground for $30 billion, in contrast to the $450- billion Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) timidly proposed by President Bush and quickly torpedoed in Congress. SEI was to take 30 years and make use of a space station (where components of the mission would be assembled), and it featured elaborate safety plans. But this is the frontier, Zubrin says, and risk is inherent when we venture forth. The most radical feature of the Mars Direct plan is the manufacture of propellants (for getting around while there and for getting back) on the surface of Mars by an unmanned module before the arrival of astronauts. But Zubrin and Wagner's discussion makes this idea, and the plan in general, seem reasonable rather than radical, and their plan would clearly save money. A mission that doesn't have to carry return fuel could use rockets that already exist, such as the Russian Energia. Mars Direct would also utilize conjunction trajectories (that is, launches when Mars is in line with Earth outward from the sun), avoiding the opposition trajectories the SEI plan advocated, and it allows for much more time to be spent exploring the surface of Mars. The authors are propagandists, so dismissive of NASA's plans that they call them "silly," but they are persuasive and even demonstrate a shrewd grasp of political realities, going so far as to incorporate Newt Gingrich's thinking with regard to privatizing the Mars Direct mission.

With exposure on CNN, a vigorous presence on the Internet, and a new groundswell of support at NASA, this plan may well prove to be the one, at long last, to fly.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451665765
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
06/28/2011
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
472,000
File size:
8 MB

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Meet the Author

Robert Zubrin, formerly a senior engineer at Lockheed Martin, is the founder of Pioneer Astronautics, a space-exploration research and development firm. Currently chairman of the executive committee of the National Space Society, Dr. Zubrin lives with his family in Indian Hills, Colorado.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and many other award-winning books of science fiction and fact.

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