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The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must Paperback – November 3, 1997

136 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0684835501 ISBN-10: 0684835509 Edition: 1st Touchstone Ed

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (November 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684835509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684835501
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Glenn H. Reynolds on July 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Robert Zubrin is a long-time advocate of space colonization and a former CEO of the National Space Society. He knows what he's talking about. "The Case for Mars" sets out the technological, economic, and -- most intriguingly -- political reasons for expanding human civilization off this planet. Zubrin's plans for terraforming Mars into a near-earthlike climate are the part of the book that has gotten the most attention. But his political rationale for Mars settlement -- that ultimately, freedom requires a frontier and the values that a frontier cultivates -- are the most inspirational part of the book from my perspective. An absolute must-read for space, or freedom, enthusiasts.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
As an aerospace engineering student highly interested in space exploration (and wishing to go professional with this also) , I really found this book to be a real treat. Definitely was inspiring coming from an author that wishes to advance mankind technologically into the realm of space.. A view that I have concurred with ever since I was in grade school. The book was not just some bored rocket engineer's (or scientist's) science fiction memo, I found his plan extremely plausible and do-able. I especially liked the historical allusions he made throughout the account proving that the grand majority of the technologies used in Mars Direct have been done before in the past(and many for thousands of years). If they have done before, there is no reason why they can not be done again. I loved the clear explanation of his plan. He did not go into too much math , but he gave a clear picture in my mind the concepts involved. Zubrin is very knowledgable and while I was reading this book I knew that what he was saying was well-founded. A MUST READ for those interested in space exploration, astronomy, or aerospace engineering!
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw the book, I was surprised by its size - it's so thick! It took me two weeks to finish the book, and I love it. I have read many books about space exploration, especially on human Mars exploration, but it is the one which I admire the most. Dr Zubrin is so creative for coming up with a plan called "Mars Direct". This plan is very different from the NASA's "90-Day Report", it involves no orbital assembly, no orbital infrastructure, no orbital rendezvous, and it doesn't need advanced propulsion or any other technology that we don't have, and basically what the approach takes is to explore Mars the way we explore the Earth, which is "travel light, and live off the land". Dr Zubrin explains that we can use this technology by using the resources that can be found on Mars rather than entirely Earth-supplied. I believe "Mars Direct" is the only way to get to Mars, because not only it is the cheapest, but also it is easier to accomplish. Dr Zubrin also explains why a moon base is not needed before the human Mars mission, which many people believe it is a necessary first step toward Mars. I agree, in fact I think his answer is quite convincing.
Later in the book Dr Zubrin explains that we will start colonizing Mars once a region is chosen. Things like carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen which are very useful for human colonization are very common on Mars. Also there are plenty of chemical substances in the soil of Mars which can be used to make metals, or even nuclear reactors for the energy supplies. Compare to the moon, Mars has more useful resources for human colonization, and that's one of the reason why we should go to Mars, not the moon.
Finally Dr Zubrin said in the far future we may "terraform" Mars.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James A. Brown on January 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was frustrated and burned out running a bookstore when I read through this book in less than two days. Right then and there I decided to change careers with the sole purpose of getting humanity to Mars. Now I work in technology and am learning whatever I can to help get us to Mars, not a flag-and-footprints mission like we did for the moon, but a permanent branch of humanity. NASA would have us go slow and leave it to the hands of the "experts," where Zubrin argues that if experts were in charge of Earth colonization we would all still be feeding off each other in Europe.
The science aspects interested me less than the Vision Thing, the idea that we are entering a Golden Age for the Earth at large, in which the problems are solved, the borders are thrown down, and we gradually withdraw into ourselves into decay. The same has happened to Rome and Greece and every other "world"-conquering nation. The day the last challenge was met was the beginning of the end.
We need a Frontier! The challenges of the Frontier will push us, drive us, force us to break stagnate molds and outdated methods. The Earth has run out of frontiers -- Mars beckons!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By W. Cooper on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read the first edition of Dr. Zubrin's book when it first appeared. Since then I have come to admire greatly his personal qualities of intelligence, technical acumen, commitment, and vision; what he's done to promote a sane, productive, and progressive humans-in-space program is extraordinary. His book makes a clear, convincing case for redirecting the efforts of NASA, in conjunction with private enterprise, toward mounting a "manned" mission to Mars within 10 years. He explains how this is doable and why we owe it to ourselves and our descendants to do it. Zubrin's one of those people who lead the way in human progress, and I hope that everyone who reads this book and agrees with his recommendations will write their representatives and help persuade them to take a look at them and to take action. Zubrin's showing us that we don't have to buy into the creeping paradigm of human limits, that we can use our intelligence and ingenuity to solve our environmental, social, and technological problems and create a positive world of the future. The answers are out there. Going to Mars would help spark interest in our young people to take up careers in science and engineering. Developing that human capital would do more to resolve global problems than anything else. Read this book and feel hopeful again.
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