The human race is at a crossroads. In the coming years, we will make decisions regarding our human spaceflight program that will lead to one of two familiar futures: the open universe of Star Trek, where we allow ourselves the opportunity to spread our wings and attempt to flourish as an interplanetary species - or the closed, dystopian, and ultimately self-destructive world of Soylent Green. If we ever hope to live in the future that is the former scenario, our first stepping stone must be a manned mission to Mars.
Dr. Robert Zubrin details the challenges of a manned Earth-to-Mars mission. Challenges which, according to Zubrin, we are technologically more prepared to overcome than the obstacles of the missions to the moon of the sixties and seventies. Dr. Zubrin's relatively simple plan, called Mars Direct, could feasibly have humans on the surface of Mars within a decade. Zubrin also discusses the current predicament of NASA, the promise of privatized space flight from companies like SpaceX, and the larger implication behind the absolute necessity to open the final frontier to humanity - the human race's future as a species that takes the necessary baby steps away from the cradle that is planet Earth or, ultimately, perishes here.
©2013 Robert Zubrin (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC
"Bob Zubrin really, nearly alone, changed our thinking on this issue." (Carl Sagan, The Denver Post)
I thought this was going to be a short work on what is listed in the title, space exploration, Mars and the future. Instead the majority of the work is basically complaining about the current administration's handling of the space program and NASA itself. The first thirty minutes were exceptional, full of visions of the future and travelling to Mars, exactly what i expected. From there, it derails and talks about why even planning Mars Direct isn't possible now or in the next three years. That's not to say that the information provided isn't accurate or interesting, but if you're looking for something full of theories on space travel/colonization (besides "change the government!"), look elsewhere.
“I have no desire to do a Mars landing on our own… The U.S. cannot always be the leader, but we can be the inspirational leader through international cooperation.”
Those were the words of Obama's NASA chief Charles Bolden when asked about the agencies vision for landing humans on Mars in 2012.
That quote was amazingly NOT in the book which is surprising since it pretty much sums up the current administrations view on anything to do with space, manned or not. To put it another way if your kid says they want to be an astronaut you should first start by getting them Russian language classes.
To the other reviewer that is offended that the author of the book would dare to criticize Obama for cancelling Americas manned space program maybe you should spend less time reading bumper stickers and more time actually paying attention to the issues if you actually care space travel.
The book is broken down into a few sections and it started off a bit slow but it hits its groove pretty quickly, which is a must in such a short book.
The author wants to get Americans (or humans in general) to Mars and points out how it could be done NOW, and paints a very reasonable picture of how to do it. In fact a lot of what he talks about is what SpaceX just announced with its plan to send humans to Mars and back in 2018 (to orbit, not land on the planet).
The author also takes a very harsh, and needed, look at the current administrations' complete lack of vision with NASA which apparently is offensive to people that value politics over space exploration and scientific achievement.
Overall the book was a very good short read and the reader did a good job and was completely appropriate for the subject matter.
If you're interested in realistic ways that people can walk on Mars in the near future this book explains it. If you're wondering why we have to fly our astronauts to Russia to get them to the ISS - you'll understand why, and why it's not going to change in the near future.
I was hoping for a book about colonizing Mars. About 1/3 is devoted to excoriating NASA. The first 1/3 is about a plan for getting to Mars efficiently and I was glad to hear it. But the rest: meh.
Mr Zubrin sounds more like right wing ideologue than a scientist.
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