Robert Zubrin

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Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin by the Mars Society.jpg
Photo of Zubrin by the Mars Society
Born (1952-04-09) April 9, 1952 (age 62)
Residence Lakewood, Colorado
Nationality American
Fields Aerospace engineering
Institutions Martin Marietta
Pioneer Astronautics
Alma mater University of Rochester
(B.A)
University of Washington
(M.S), (PhD)
Known for Mars Direct
Mars Society
The Case for Mars
Energy Victory

Robert Zubrin (born April 9, 1952) is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of the manned exploration of Mars. He was the driving force behind Mars Direct—a proposal intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission. The key idea was to use the Martian atmosphere to produce oxygen, water, and rocket propellant for the surface stay and return journey. A modified version of the plan was subsequently adopted by NASA as their "design reference mission". He questions the delay and cost-to-benefit ratio of first establishing a base or outpost on an asteroid or another Apollo Program-like return to the Moon, as neither would be able to provide all of its own oxygen, water, or energy; these resources are producible on Mars, and he expects people would be there thereafter.[1]

Disappointed with the lack of interest from government in Mars exploration and after the success of his book The Case for Mars as well as leadership experience at the National Space Society, Zubrin established the Mars Society in 1998. This is an international organization advocating a manned Mars mission as a goal, by private funding if possible.

Zubrin lives in Lakewood, Colorado; he has two daughters, Rachel and Sarah.

Qualifications and professional experience[edit]

Zubrin holds a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Rochester (1974), a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering (1984), a M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics (1986), and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering (1992) — all from the University of Washington.[2][3] 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 five books. He was a member of Lockheed Martin's scenario development team charged with developing strategies for space exploration. He was also "a senior engineer with the Martin Marietta Astronautics company, working as one of its leaders in development of advanced concepts for interplanetary missions" (The Case for Mars 1996). 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). He was awarded his first patent at age 20 in 1972 for Three Player Chess. His inventions also include the nuclear salt-water rocket and co-inventor (with Dana Andrews) of the magnetic sail.

Pioneer Energy[edit]

In 2008, Zubrin founded Pioneer Energy, a Research & Development firm headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado. The company's focus is to develop mobile Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) systems that can enable CO2-based EOR for both small and large oil producers in the United States. The company has also developed a number of new processes for manufacturing synthetic fuels.[citation needed]

Books[edit]

Books edited or co-authored[edit]

Zubrin has also edited or co-edited the following books, most of which include contributions he wrote:

  • Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space (1996), co-edited with Stanley Schmidt. This is a collection of fifteen selected non-fiction entries that had been published in Analog magazine over the years; it includes five articles authored or co-authored by Zubrin, including "The Hypersonic Skyhook", "Mars Direct: A Proposal for the Rapid Exploration and Colonization of the Red Planet" (co-authored with David A. Baker), "Colonizing the Outer Solar System", "Terraforming Mars" (co-authored with Christopher McKay), and "The Magnetic Sail". Notable additional contributors include Robert L. Forward and the godfather of terraforming, Martyn J. Fogg, each of whom contributed two articles.
  • From Imagination to Reality: Mars Exploration Studies of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society : Precursors and Early Piloted Exploration Missions (1997).
  • From Imagination to Reality: Mars Exploration Studies of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society : Base Building, Colonization and Terraformation (1997).
  • Proceedings of the Founding Convention of the Mars Society (1999), co-edited with Maggie Zubrin. This contains articles corresponding to talks presented at the founding convention of the Mars Society in Boulder, Colorado in August 1998; it includes contributions from Zubrin, Buzz Aldrin, Martyn Fogg, and many others.
  • On to Mars: Colonizing a New World (2002 Apogee Books), co-edited with Frank Crossman. This contains articles corresponding to talks presented at the annual conventions of the Mars Society in Boulder in 1999, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2000, and at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California in 2001.
  • On to Mars 2: Exploring and Settling a New World (2005 Apogee Books), co-edited with Frank Crossman. This contains over 130 articles corresponding to talks presented at the annual conventions of the Mars Society in Boulder in 2002, in Eugene, Oregon in 2003, and in Chicago, Illinois in 2004.

The ethics of terraforming[edit]

Dr. Zubrin is noted[by whom?] as an advocate of a moderately anthropocentric position in the ethics of terraforming. Discussions of the ethics of terraforming often[citation needed] make reference to a series of public debates Zubrin has held with his friend Christopher McKay, who advocates a moderately biocentric position on the ethics of terraforming. For example, a written account of some of these debates is available in On to Mars: Colonizing a New World, as a joint article, "Do Indigenous Martian Bacteria have Precedence over Human Exploration?" (pp. 177–182)

Cultural references[edit]

An aging Robert Zubrin also appears as a background character in The Martian Race (1999) by Gregory Benford, a science fiction novel depicting early human explorers on Mars in the very near future. Benford, who is also an astrophysicist, is a longtime member of both the board of directors and the steering committee of the Mars Society.

Robert Zubrin was also recently featured in a CBC Television documentary special, The Passionate Eye, dubbed "The Mars Underground".[6]

The songwriter and musician Frank Black (alias Black Francis of the Pixies) penned an homage to Zubrin, "Robert Onion", on the album Dog in the Sand. The lyrics form an acrostic spelling "Robert The Case For Mars Zubrin".[7]

In 2010 Robert Zubrin was featured in the Symphony of Science video "The Case for Mars" along with Carl Sagan, Brian Cox, and Penelope Boston.

The fictional character Dr. Zachary Walzer in the 2010 independent VODO series Pioneer One is loosely based on Zubrin.[citation needed]

Patents[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Zubrin (Apr 21, 2005). "Getting Space Exploration Right". Space Daily. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Robert Zubrin". Nasa. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Robert Zubrin". Pioneer Astronautics. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Email from Robert Zubrin to Tim McMahon dated 9-18-2003 requesting book review
  5. ^ Jack J. Woehr (November 17, 2003). "The galaxy strikes back". Enter Stage Right. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Mars Underground". CBC News. September 4, 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Robert Onion". Frank Black Discopedia. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 

External links[edit]