What's the Latest Development?
Fifteen years ago, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin published The Case for Mars, calling for resolve among the aerospace community to put humans on the Red Planet. Now he has updated the book to reflect recent scientific achievements: "Today we know exactly what to do. As to cost, SpaceX company president Elon Musk testified directly to the panel that he would be willing to develop a 100 tonne to orbit class H.L.V. (heavy lift launch vehicle) for a fixed-price contract of $2.5 billion. This claim is very credible, since SpaceX recently developed and flew a 10 tonne to orbit medium lifter for a total program cost of $300 million."
What's the Big Idea?
Why is a mission to Mars so vital in the first place? Wasn't the race to the moon, after all, simply a product of Cold War power games? "There are real and vital reasons why we should venture to Mars," says Zubrin. "It is the key to unlocking the secret of life in the universe. It is the challenge to adventure that will inspire millions of young people to enter science and engineering, and whose acceptance will reaffirm the nature of our society as a nation of pioneers. It is the door to an open future, a new frontier on a new world, a planet that can be settled and the beginning of humanity's career as a spacefaring species."