Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer, author, and advocate for human exploration of Mars. He and his colleague at Martin Marietta, David Baker, were the driving force behind Mars Direct, a proposal in a 1990 research paper 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...
Zubrin recaps his early interest and hopes for space exploration. He speaks about the mission creep that plagued space travel efforts in the 90’s and his efforts to make Mars the focus of space travel once again. He is adamantly against on-orbit assembly and the generally more complex plans that people come up with for Mars bases. Direct travel to mars, production of fuel on mars, and the slow but steady accumulation of habitats on mars are well within our current technology level.
He also touched on his interactions with Elon Musk and SpaceX. After founding the Mars Society, Zubrin needed money for developing practice locations for Mars colonization. He held a fundraiser where he met Elon for the first time, and from there Musk was all-in on getting humanity to Mars.
Mars is the planet that has the materials necessary for settlement. Carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen, and complex geological processes are all present on Mars and create an abundance of resources necessary for civilization. The moon has none of these things, it’s mostly a large hunk of rock. Greenhouses with thin walls would be sufficient for growing crops on the surface of mars – growing anything on the surface of the moon requires artificial light and some kind of shielding to mask out solar flares.
Robert continues to create innovative technologies with his independent company. Even with his success at stimulating SpaceX and other organizations to explore Mars, he continues to push for more progress toward the red planet.