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The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the…

The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must (edition 1997)

by Robert Zubrin, Richard Wagner, Arthur C. Clarke (Foreword)

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551818,146 (4.05)12
Title:The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must
Authors:Robert Zubrin
Other authors:Richard Wagner, Arthur C. Clarke (Foreword)
Info:Touchstone (1997), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must by Robert Zubrin


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The Red Planet fascinates me but I am convinced that humans will never settle it. It will always be beyond the range of human habitability. The zero gravity, the cosmic radiation, the dust storms, the hostile climate, the thinness of the atmosphere, the absence of liquid water, the human factors, etc., would require superhuman technological and human adaptations. It will never be profitable or cost effective. This book offers solutions, mostly hi-tech and very expensive. Despite its optimism that Mars can be terraformed, it convinced me that it will never be worth the cost to do so, even if the formidable engineering problems can be solved. This book assumes that the Earth will always be available to support Mars missions, but the Earth itself is teetering on collapse.

The terraforming of Mars would be accomplished by artificially-induced global warming. Even if that could be done successfully within a reasonable time, what would prevent it from eventually getting out of control? Might as well stay on Earth!

The title of this book betrays the author’s bias. He wants to do this. His book is an advertisement for Mars colonization, an appeal for the funding it would require. Thus he has a vested interest in minimizing the difficulties. His talk about “living off the land like Lewis and Clark” is unrealistic. His attitude is expansionist and strongly pro-technology. He thinks stagnation is the only alternative to perpetual expansion into new frontiers. He thinks technology is progress. But expansionism and technology can and do create serious problems. It is not our manifest destiny to colonize the planets. A society that lives within reasonable limits is not to be disparaged as a “closed society.”

This book is about the Red Planet; it is more about engineering and technology. If you decide to read it, get the latest edition because this is a moving topic. ( )
  pjsullivan | Mar 22, 2017 |
Very interesting solution to the problem of safely send humans to mars ( )
  elavram | Jan 27, 2014 |
Robert Zubrin outlines, in great detail, how a manned mission to Mars could be achieved within a decade, for less money than is generally assumed, if only we were willing to thoroughly commit to doing it. His plan involves a launch directly from Earth to Mars (with no expensive orbital construction or stepping-stone bases on the moon), using Mars' natural resources to synthesize fuel and other necessities, and an extended stay on the surface to get some real science done. He's put lot of thought into every aspect of the endeavor, from launch vehicles to orbital trajectories to crew habitats to scientific objectives, and his scheme seems extremely plausible.

Zubrin also looks a bit further afield, talking about a plan for permanent Martian settlements and even the prospect of terraforming Mars. These chapters are a lot more speculative and rather less convincing, but they are interesting possibilities, and also feature lots of carefully thought-out specifics. In fact, some of the details here can get pretty dry -- I admit to sort of skimming some of the bits about the chemistry of fuel and plastics manufacturing on Mars -- but you don't necessarily have to be a rocket scientist to understand the basics of his arguments.

Of course, that "if only we were willing to thoroughly commit" is one great big "if," and I can't say I'm feeling much in the way of optimism. If anything, the goal seems further away now than it did in 1996, when the first edition of this books was published. Alas. ( )
4 vote bragan | Sep 24, 2012 |
Really interesting book. ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 14, 2012 |
I'm sold

I'm saddened to say that in the 12 years since this book was published we are no further along to the vision set out here in these pages.
We have turned our government into one which would rather micromanage our lives than set forth a vision for all of humanity.
While the book is slightly technical in nature any amateur interested in space exploration can pick this book up and understand the implications...it would even be easy to skip some of the tech stuff and read the meat of the book.
The authors lay out not only the benefit to society but the cost...in a detailed (nearly line-by-line) description of what a manned mission to Mars would cost if the government ran it and what it could cost on a shoestring budget.
Simply a WOW factor. I'm sold. ( )
1 vote gopfolk | Aug 26, 2011 |
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Henceforth I spread confident wings to space
I fear no barrier of crystal or of glass;
I cleave the heavens and soar to the infinite.
And while I rise from my own globe to others
And penetrate even further through the eternal field,
That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me.

Giordano Bruno

"On the Infinite Universe and Worlds," 1584
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684835509, Paperback)

"For our generation and many that will follow, Mars is the New World," writes Zubrin. This book went to press serendipitously, just as NASA was making its startling if heavily-qualified announcement that simple life may have once existed on the fourth rock from the sun. Zubrin doesn't spend an enormous amount of time arguing why Mars exploration is desirable -- we all want astronauts to go there, don't we? -- but rather devotes the bulk of this book explaining how it can happen on a sensible, bare-bones budget of $20-30 billion and a "travel light and live off the land" philosophy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author presents his plan, Mars Direct, with ideas for using present-day technology to "produce fuel and oxygen on the planet's surface with Martian natural resources," etc.--Jacket.

(summary from another edition)

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