Monday, December 11, 2006

Mars Society's Bob Zubrin Jealous Over Lunar Plans? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Hat Tip: NASA Watch)

Bob Zubrin, President of the Mars Society seems to have shown a little bit of resentment (and perhaps jealousy) over NASA's plans to return humanity to the Moon.

( I'm very much a believer that NASA needs to have a central driving mission. Basically the manned space program has accomplished nothing since 1973 except for the Hubble Telescope. They're just doing things to do them. But this can hardly be regarded as bold, a plan to do 14 years from now what they did 50 years before. They're also doing it in twice the time it took to do the first time. We could be on Mars in 10 years without a doubt. The idea that your strategic goal is the moon as opposed to Mars I think is wrong. I think it's too timid. I think it's, well, un-American. [emphasis mine]

For many years, Zubrin has pushed for a Martian colony within his lifetime, even creating a DVD in order to promote his cause. However, he has not laid out a public road map to explain how we could get to Mars within ten years, something even Buzz Aldrin has done (although it's about 15 years longer than Zubrin's proposal).

Buy why should we skip the moon for Mars? Zubrin explains:

( Mars compares to the moon in the coming age of exploration as North America compares to Greenland in the previous age of exploration. It might take a little more to travel to North America than to Greenland, but it is easier to sustain a colony there. Mars has resources that can be used to support the base. You can make fuel there. You can get water. On Mars you have the elements of life and you have the elements of industry. On the moon, you don't really have either. [emphasis mine]

Despite this analogy being "cozy," it does not work very well regarding our current neighbor and our distant red friend. While Greenland has no resources, the moon does, something of which we might not be able to say regarding Mars.

And scientists do not know whether or not Martian soil is toxic to life (which would hinder us greatly if we ever settle on Mars).

A better analogy of the two worlds is this: The Moon is like Iceland. Its fairly distant, has some resources and despite the dangers is habitable.

Mars is like Antarctica. It is very far away and brutal, and despite holding some resources, it may not be in our financial best interests exporting them.

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