Robert Zubrin

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Dr. Zubrin at Pioneer Astronautics.


Is the president of Pioneer Astronautics and of the Mars Society.

To the New Mars community, Dr. Zubrin is best known for the research paper he and David Baker wrote in 1990 that detailed the Mars Direct scenario, which was at its time of writing daring and low-cost, compared to pre-existing scenarios. The plan made use of current rocket technology, to demonstrate man could visit Mars in the very near future, if only there was a strong political will to do so. The mission was further detailed and expanded in the book The Case For Mars, published in 1996.


In the proposal he pointed out how the concept of Living Off The Land, or In-Situ Recource Utilisation ISRU, could dramatically reduce cost and complexity of a manned mission to Mars by synthesizing a breathable atmosphere and propellant from the Martian atmosphere.

Nasa adopted a modified version of the Mars Direct scenario, called the Design Reference Mission.

His book, The Case For Mars was a succes, but governmental lack of interest in a Manned mission to Mars inspired him to form the Mars Society in 1998, an advocacy organisation with international branches, seeking ways to do a manned mission, if possible by private funding.


Zubrin holds a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Rochester (1974), a masters degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics, a masters degree in Nuclear Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering -- all from the University of Washington. He has developed a number of concepts for space propulsion and exploration, and is the author of over 200 technical and non-technical papers, and was a member of Lockheed Martin's scenario development team charged with developing strategies for space exploration. He is also President of both the Mars Society and Pioneer Astronautics, a private company that does research and development on innovative aerospace technologies. Zubrin is the co-inventor on a U.S. design patent and a U.S. utility patent on a hybrid rocket/airplane, and on a U.S. utility patent on an oxygen supply system (see links below).

Zubrin lives in Indian Hills, Colorado with his wife, Maggie Zubrin, and two daughters. Maggie Zubrin has long served as the executive director of the Mars Society.


External links:

Mars Society

Books written by Dr. Zubrin:

  • The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must (1996), with Richard Wagner, in which he outlines the Mars Direct plan along with speculating on the economic, social and technical viability of future Mars colonization.
  • Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization (1999), which ranges from the current status quo and innovative startups of the aerospace industry, through exploration and colonization of Mars, to a more futuristic look at humanity's possible colonization of the solar system and the feasibility of interstellar travel with known physics.
  • Mars On Earth: The Adventures of Space Pioneers in the High Arctic (2003), a recounting of the origins and progress of the Mars Society's Mars Analog Research Station project, including a variety of perils, both mundane and adventurous, that were overcome in establishing the first analog Mars habitat on Devon Island in the high Arctic, and highlights of what had been learned so far through that effort.
  • First Landing (2001), a (barely) fictional tale about a near-future Mars flight using the Mars Direct plan.
  • The Holy Land (2003), This is an "SF satire on the Middle East crisis and the War on Terrorism and concerns what happens when the Liberal Western Galactic Empire relocates the oppressed Minervan sect to their ancient homeland of Kennewick, Washington, in the midst of a USA ruled by Christian fundamentalist fanatics."
  • Benedict Arnold: A Drama of the American Revolution in Five Acts (2005), an effort both to humanize and show the multiple dimensions of Arnold, and to contrast the democratic values embodied in the spirit of the Revolution with the socially bankrupt classism embodied in the British subjects who won Arnold to their side.