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on July 18, 2016
This is an excellent but somewhat dated non-fiction account of how the US could have begun colonizing Mars 2 decades ago within the existing NASA budgets and with technology existing at the time. I suspect that Andy Weir leaned heavily on Zubrin's work in writing his novel "The Martian" with one exception. Had he followed Zubrin's plan there would have been such redundancy that there would have been no crisis. :^). The book contains detailed technical work but is written so that lay people (even politicians and bureaucrats) can follow with little difficulty. "The Case for Mars" not only addresses the "how" we get to Mars but also the "why". Zubrin goes into some detail on how colonies can be built, farming can be done, fuel produced, mining and exporting of metals accomplished and, longer term, terraforming of the planet achieved. Keep your eye on Elon Musk - bet he has read this book and has set his sights on getting us to the Red Planed sooner than later.
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on September 19, 2016
Dr. Zubrin's book is fantastic, and far better than I anticipated. A lot of science/math-type persons are terrible writers who fail to connect with their audience. Robert Zubrin is NOT one of those science/math-types! While he certainly isn't Shakespeare, he has real talent as a writer.

Most important is the message of the book: if humanity wants to survive, we need to get our collective a$&es into space already and start colonizing. There just isn't any future for humanity (or really for any animals, plants, etc. on Earth) is we fail to expand beyond the Earth. If we limit ourselves to this tiny planet, we will eventually go extinct; when we do, we'll take all life on Earth with us. People need to realize how important it is for us to expand into space.

What about all the common objections to a manned/womanned Mars mission and its feasiability? Dr. Zubrin does a great job shredding those illogical, anti-scientific arguments to pieces in his book. Only a scientist with the street cred of Robert Zubrin could do that. This is the biggest reason to read the book. If you wonder, "Can we really get to Mars?" and "How do we do it?", then all of your questions are answerered within the pages of "A Case for Mars". We know how to get to Mars thanks to Dr. Zubrin and his peers. The only thing lacking is the funding to get the job done.

Criticisms? I gave this book four stars becauae it isn't perfect. There are a few things that Dr. Zubrin could do better. This is my constructive criticism.

1) The book is old and a new version REALLY needs to be written. There have been tons of robotic Mars missions over the last 20 plus years, and "The Case for Mars" reads like it was written in the 1990s (which it was). It needs to read like it was written in 2016. An updated version would be easy enough for Dr. Zubrin to publish.

2) A lot of anti-space arguments have nothing to do with the feasiability of a manned/womanned Mars mission. While there are certainly many people all over the planet who are enthusiastic about human space exploration, there are many more people who are either apathetic about it or actively opposed to the notion entirely. These people consider space exploration/colonization to be a waste of time and money. Look at virtually any news story about a successful NASA mission, and there's always some Debbie Downer in the comments who says something to the extent of, "Wouldn't it be better if we used the money it cost to do this to make life better here on Earth?". This group, whom I call "space-haters" need to be mulified. Dr. Zubrin's book could do a better job with that.

3) One issue I find with "The Case for Mars" is it's overwhelmingly positive view of European colonization of the New World. Honestly, I'm not one to get all PC and get upset about this. I don't think Dr. Zubrin meant to appear anti-Native or anything of the sort. Virtually everything he said about European colonization of the New World is indeed accurate. As an American myself, I'm quite thankful that said colonization took place. Overall, it's had a positive effect on human progress. But there was an enormous dark side to what happened. Europeans could still have colonized the Americas, Africa, Australia, etc. without mistreating the aboriginal peoples the way they did. It would be worth mentioning some of the bad aspects of historical colonization, and writing that into the theme of the book. The best part is, colonizing Mars will be different since there's no native population. This should be emphasized. Also, a general respect for life and a more careful, caring, less destructive approach to colonization should be touted.

Overall, great book. Everyone should read this. It's incredibly important. If you have questions about how humans could potentially go to Mars and eventually colonize it, this book has answers. It's 100% possible. It is only a lack of funding and willpower that's holding humanity back.
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on April 13, 2014
Forty years ago we last stepped foot on the Moon. Currently, with our occupation of the low-Earth orbit international space station, we are space residents. In the visionary Mission to Mars (National Geographic Society, 2013), moon-walker, space advocate, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, challenges us to take a further step and colonise Mars. Aldrin advocates bypassing the Moon and instead make progressive steps to mars via comets, asteroids and Mar’s moon Phobos. From Phobos astronauts using remote controlled robots will prepare the Mars landing site and habitats. Aldrin states that regular space travel to Mars would be too expensive with Apollo-style modular expendable components, instead favoring a gravity-powered spaceship cycling permanently between the Earth and Mars. Although strongly advocating for a US led enterprise Aldrin, thankfully, sees cooperation, rather than competition with China, Europe, Russia, India and Japan as being the way forward.

Currently we have the Dutch company Mars One are recruiting people to be part of a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2023; the US commercial firm SpaceX have their Red Dragon proposal to put a sample-return mission to Mars by 2018 (seen as a necessary precursor by NASA to a human exploration); the Chinese have a long term plan for non-crewed flights to Mars by 2033 and crewed phase of missions to Mars during 2040-2060. Although the funding mechanisms and motivations are different these plans all make use of one idea or more from book The Case for Mars (Free Press, 1996, 2011). Written by aerospace engineer and founder of the Mars Society, Robert Zubrin, it is a meticulous and plausible way to settle Mars. Aldrin’s book is more broad and his ideas fit well with current technologies, US aspirations for asteroid capture and exploitation, and NASA’s focus on the planet Mars.

The veteran Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, is still surprising us with its discoveries, more than nine years after the completion of its 90 day primary mission. While the sprightly youngster Curiosity is regularly rewriting and deepening our understanding of Mars - still only half-way through its three year primary mission.

Appreciating what it takes to get a scientific laboratory wheeling its way across Mars is enticingly portrayed in another new book Red Rover (Basic Books, 2013). This first-hand account is written by Roger Wiens, lead scientist for ChemCam - the laser zapping remote chemical analytical instrument onboard the rover Curiosity. It covers his involvement in robotic space exploration from his initiation in 1990 on the NASA Genesis probe to the joyous moment when Curiosity zapped its first rock in early 2013. If this piques your curiosity then the earlier Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the exploration of the Red planet (Scribe, 2005) is well worth tracking down. A passionate insight into the 2004 twin rover Spirit and Opportunity mission by Steve Squyres, the mission’s scientific principal investigator.

These robotic missions are prudent preparatory steps to Aldrin provides and engaging overview of the technical, economic and political reasons for humanity to journey to Mars. It has been a self-professed vision of his since his return from the Moon. This books, though, represents Aldrin’s first attempt to put the whole of the puzzle, his Unified Space Vision, together in one place. For a more technical read on the settlement and exploration of Mars then Zubrin’s revised and updated The Case for Mars (Free press, 2011) and Marswalk One: first steps on a new planet (Praxis, 2005) by astronautical historian, writer and designers David Shayler, Andrew Salmon and Michael Shayler are also recommended. Mission to Mars though is a clarion call, essential reading for anyone interested in humanity’s next big step.

This review was first published on dragonlaughing
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on November 16, 2015
I read Andy Weir's "The Martian" and saw the movie, and learned that his story was based off of Robert Zubrin's plan that is the focus of this book. It is very well detailed and such a shame that it hasn't happened yet. There are two main points that I think form the basis of this book: The first is that the ability to use Mars' atmosphere to make fuel once landed is the key to making a mission there affordable. The second is that while Mars is far away (and much farther than the moon), it has nearly all of the resources necessary to start a colony and eventually work towards terraforming. The moon lacks so many of these resources that it can only make for basic excursions but could never provide much on it's own.
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on August 8, 2015
It is a very thorough book about the technical aspects of Mars missions, colonization and even terraforming, giving all de HOWs and more importantly, the WHYs.

I am giving it four stars because the basic idea about his Mars Direct mission architecture is given early on the book, and a good part of the book thereafter it's just revising and defending the same idea, and attacking other (admittedly) worse ideas. Other than that, it reviews a lot of interesting present and future technologies related with space exploration and colonization.

I can recommend this book for people with a basic engineering background and/or a fair interest on space exploration, they are ought to have a good time reading it.
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VINE VOICEon April 9, 2016
A very inspiring scientific and philosophical masterwork. I do not toss that kind of kudos around at all lightly, but Dr. Zubrin not only describes a very plausible and affordable means of reaching and ultimately colonizing the Red Planet, but in the Epilogue, gives a magnificent precis of WHY we MUST go! The very recent movie, The Martian, was very heavily based on the Mars Semi Direct mission, developed by Zubrin and his colleague, Baker. Modified somewhat by NASA scientists, this is realistically not just the best wayof getting there, but based on financial and political considerations, the ONLY way.
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on July 28, 2016
This book has completely changed how I think about getting to Mars. It has really convinced me that it is something that could be done in our lifetime, with technology available today. I highly recommend anyone read this that is interested in space exploration!
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on September 14, 2011
If 100 years from now Zubrin is known for nothing else, it will be for making the idea of exploring and settling the planet Mars seem feasible, almost inevitable. It is inevitable, it is just a matter of who will do it and whose values will become the basis of the new frontier of humanity. Mars has all the resources required to support a human population. Zubrin is an American and has lobbied NASA and the US political establishment only to fall on deaf ears time and time again (Americans can be counted on to do the right thing, but only after they have tried everything else).

In this updated version of the book, the core of the Mars Direct plan remains more or less in place but he does update the book with new research and knowledge of the red planet. There is one "correction" that I want to make to a previous reviewer. The review was correct that the Kindle version of the book was the original version of the text, even though the 2011 update had been released. However, after contacting Amazon's fast and responsive Support group, they re-sent the 2011 version to my Kindle at no extra charge. So if you have problems with this please contact Support.
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on August 1, 2011
Dr Robert Zubrin is arguably the best qualified and strongest advocate for making Mars the destination of choice in a realistic and affordable program of regular Mars travel, exploration and settlement. Mars is our nearest neighbor planet in the solar system. It has the same area of land surface as Earth, one third the gravity, and as we now know, reclaimable water.
At the heart of Zubrin's passion is a three-fold belief. First, Mars is the logical successor both to the Apollo moon landings, which ran out of steam by reason of disgraced President Nixon's slashing of that program, and to the concluded 30-years of space shuttles. Second, Mars is the new frontier not only in imagination but literally in the pioneering journeys which have characterized human history. Last, says the author here as well as in his tireless speaking to hundreds of groups (including the best minds in rocketry and other space science) we not only CAN think of leaving our home planet, we MUST develop the knowledge and skill to do so. One day the human race will be out among the stars, and - depending upon whether you are an optimist or a pessimist - it will be either because we resolutely expanded, or else barely escaped a ruined Earth. This is a re-issue of the 1996 book.
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on September 22, 2013
I truly enjoyed this book. If we used Zubrin's plan we could (using robots) find a source of water (probably salty brine) on Mars, and then electrolyze the water to produce hydrogen. Using the carbon dioxide in the martian atmosphere, along with the hydrogen, methane (a rocket fuel) could be produced on Mars. Martian rocks could then be collected--using the same type of rovers we use now. Then, an inexpensive (unfueled) delta rocket could be "shipped" to the martian surface where it could be fueled, loaded with Mars rocks and fired to attain trans-Earth injection. The next step would be sending humans to Mars, but (using Zubrin's in-situ propellant production methods) I believe we could gather martian rocks and ship them to Earth in the next 5 years using only robots.
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