SPACE: Case for Mars

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Feb 20 2000 - 10:54:50 MST

Subject: SPACE: Case for Mars

Well, the 20+ hour trip to South Africa gave me time to read through
the "Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin.

Now, for those who are real hardheads, please watch the following:
 "I believe I was misguided, ill-informed, incorrect and perhaps
 even wrong in my previous position regarding support for a Moon-Base
 over going to Mars".
[There now, that only hurt a little...]

Zubrin has clearly done his homework and clearly makes a valid case for Mars
being perhaps the first place we should go on a long term "occupation" basis.

However(!), he seems unaware of (or avoids) two key areas: AI and Nanotech.

He mentions nanotechnology once in the book, classifying it with other
"wishful" technologies such as Faster-than-Light travel (Oooppps...).
AI is also avoided, so it isn't clear whether or not he has thought
very seriously about Moore's Law. Since he discusses terraforming Mars
over 100-1000 years, he doesn't seem to have much awareness of the
singularity. Biotech is mentioned only in passing. Thats the bad news.

His treatment of rocket fuel synthesis, chemical engineering, and orbital
dynamics are first rate however. His philosophy is clearly libertarian
and growth oriented but he seems to limit his concept of humanity to the
standard issue human bodies. Many of his economic arguments for colonizing
Mars disappear if we even get minimal AI for human worker equivalence.
He mentions using space based solar collectors as a key requirement for
accelerating terraforming (but doesn't take it the next level that I do
for using their exponetial growth to dissassemble the planet entirely.)

So, if Zubrin's perspective is typical of the average case for Mars individual,
we have fertile ground for the Extropian philosophy, they just need to have
their vision expanded a little.


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