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The Case for Mars

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,393 ratings  ·  160 reviews
Since the beginning of human history Mars has been an alluring dream--the stuff of legends, gods, and mystery. The planet most like ours, it has still been thought impossible to reach, let alone explore and inhabit.

Now with the advent of a revolutionary new plan, all this has changed. leading space exploration authority Robert Zubrin has crafted a daring new blueprint, Mar
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 3rd 1997 by Touchstone (first published November 8th 1996)
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Andrew Yes, I think so. There is some criticism of politics, but the best parts of the book are those discussing the mission itself and the technical compete…moreYes, I think so. There is some criticism of politics, but the best parts of the book are those discussing the mission itself and the technical competencies required. (less)

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Angela Blount
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
In using this book for research purposes, I've been delighted with the wealth of practical information it offers. The Case For Mars is a history lesson, a speculative thesis, a business proposal, and a visionary rally cry—all in one.

The author lays his foundation on some of the more relevant origins of humanity's relationship with astronomy, astrophysics, and the planet Mars—managing accuracy without any petty attempts to pit science against religion or vice versa. The background he provided on
Dan Cowden
Dec 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science, space, technical
Falling victim to many of the same biases he rails against other visionaries and scientists for having, Zubrin proceeds to display a zealot's lack of a grounding in reality. The technical bits "proving" that Mars is the place to go in the solar system are amusingly one-sided -- despite the fact that many of the ideas for building habitats within lunar orbit are much more cost-effective if those habitats are allowed to use materials from Near-Earth Orbit asteroids, which are far easier to exploit ...more
P.J. Sullivan
May 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Humans will never settle on Mars. It will always be beyond the range of human habitability. The lesser gravity, the cosmic radiation and dust storms, the thinness of the atmosphere, the absence of liquid water, the absence of an ozone layer, the distance, the human factors, etc., would require superhuman technological and human adaptations. It will never be profitable or cost effective. This book offers solutions, high-tech and very expensive. Despite its optimism that Mars can be terraformed, i ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, library
If you read this, make sure to get the revised 2011 edition, which incorporates discoveries made by the robotic missions to Mars since the book was first published in 1996. The bulk of the book lays out the technology and strategy for the "Mars Direct" plan to get humans to Mars and set up a base and eventually a colony there. This was all really interesting, and though it necessarily got into some tricky science at points, it remained pretty accessible for readers without science backgrounds.

Charlie George
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, will-re-read
Terrific, original engineering writing. Mr. Zubrin is a visionary thinker. I agree with the comments that a program such as this should have been executed long ago, and it remains an important goal.

We are now nearing the end of the 10-year window Zubrin laid out for establishing continuous human colonization of Mars. I remember several sources indicating that NASA took the research seriously, but apparently not enough to pursue it, which is a shame.

After all the ingenious engineering recommendat
Cassandra Kay Silva
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I like that someone eager to use government money is also eager to find a way to make that money go a long way and become feasible. One of my biggest problems with government spending is that once people get the money in hand they have no connection to it. It becomes this free flowing pipe from the government and everyone just tries to bank on getting as much of it as possible for their own research. I think the author makes a good point towards then end, and I have always felt that things would ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Very detailed. Includes everything from NASA's policy for Mars colonization and rocket programs and recent developments (keep in mind that the book is pretty dated), to terraforming of Mars. A very good book if you're interested in the subject matter. It could have been even better if it wasn't dry so often. Still a pretty informative read.
P.S. Winn
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
How to get to Mars, and why we should in a detailed plan and a great idea. I found this an extremely interesting read of the possibility of settling onto another world.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, futurism
The author of this book, Robert Zubrin, is a fucking crybaby. He cries about the useless ISS. He cries about the overgrown NASA plans for a manned mission to Mars. He cries about lack of consistent congressional funding and periodical presidential goal changes. It's all too much for me. And it's so unnecessary! An understated matter-of-fact approach works so much better than polemics.

There's a lot of cool discussion about technology in situ resource utilization like turning CO2 from the atmosphe
Jack Chaucer
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Robert Zubrin makes a strong case for human colonization of Mars and, surprising to me at least, that we already should've been there by now. JFK would be disappointed that we didn't take his model for going to the moon many, many moons ago and apply it to Mars. At least we've got rovers there, but politics, complacency and a stagnant sense of adventure and frontier spirit have set us back from experiencing Mars the way it should be experienced -- with our own hands in the red dirt, our own fing ...more
Ana and The Books
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
personally a dream of mine is to be a part of the Mars missions, and our settlement of the planet. Reading this book has allowed me to see the little and big things we need to accomplish as a species in order to expand our world.
If nothing else read the epilogue.
This book is a quick read for laypersons to get an understanding of how it would be possible to explore and then settle another planet. From how to get there to what we would do there to how we would make it possible to populate. While I still wouldn't sign up to go, at least certainly not in the first waves anyway, I find myself advocating the opportunity for those who would.

Reading this book has changed my way of thinking. Not only about space exploration and
Jul 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science, space
A nonfiction, science-based approach to what it would take to colonize Mars, and why we should. This book covers everything from proper dome construction to kevlar space elevators to hydroponic farming to the advent of space hotels, and makes a compelling case for exactly how we can settle Mars -- and why we really SHOULD.

And yet, somehow, Kim Robinson's "Green Mars," a fiction genre novel, taught me more about terraforming the red planet than Zubrin did.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: still-to-finish
Didn't quite finish it

It's really interesting, as long as you are really interested in getting to Mars and making your own fuel there. If not, maybe just watch a video about Zubrin first. He seems to be a bit of an asshole.

I'm glad he's a Mars asshole though, because he's made a big impact on the whole process.
Kieran Fanning
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't normally read non-fiction so I can't say this was an easy read and the at time very scientific & technical parts of this book were a real struggle. But perhaps that is more my fault than the book's. The book is possibly very outdated at this stage but nevertheless Zubrin makes an interesting Case for Mars. He seems very credible and knowledgeable and the writing is good. ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
As long as Mr. Zubrin talks about the mechanics of getting to Mars cheaply through his proposed Mars Direct plan, the book was very interesting. In some cases I just didn't have the math to follow some of his proof, but the main idea is that we can get to Mars relatively cheaply by doing two things: not build all the space infrastructure (space stations, moon base etc.), just go to Mars directly. Then, rather than bring everything we need to Mars, use resources found on Mars to reduce costs. He ...more

I had to put this book on my "to-be-read" (long) list, after reading my friend's review*; a pessimist one, implying Mars exploration/colonization is not mankind's destiny. Something I totally disagree on. I even commented on the review this way: "Great review; yet, I cannot understand your skepticism; I hope you're aware of the efforts (and hope) of other nations; namely this mission: MARS ONE:
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
From the planning of the first mission, to colonisation, terraforming and interplanetary commerce, this work is the most comprehensive non-fiction book about humanity's future on Mars. Or at least how it should happen.
It's technical detail is extensive although romanticism about our future as an interplanetary species is not absent.
Any science fiction writer who cares about scientific accuracy should read or rather study this book. Sometimes it feels like reading a university textbook but it's
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I received my copy of this book from Robert Zubrin himself, at his Pioneer Astronautics workshop in Denver. Inside is written "To Dave, See you on Mars! Aug 17, 2000", signed "RZ".

The book is well written and flows a bit like a novel, however the basic mission plans requires a (probably unrealistically) large budget for building big rockets. SpaceX appears to be the most likely to succeed workaround.

In my opinion, whomever puts this projects together and actually pulls it off with a live crew
May 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Zubrin's Mars Direct mission architecture has been very influential amongst space enthusiasts, but his chapter on why we must settle Mars is merely lightly reworked Frederick Jackson Turner.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mars
My main takeaway from this book is a pressing desire to sit Zubrin down and ask him if he's read Bradbury's Martian Chronicles.

No doubt Zubrin's a smart guy, and this book was invaluable to my research. I'll probably consult it over and over again until it's even more dogeared and marked up than it is already. I especially love the addendum about panspermia and wish it was longer.

And I can definitely see how it inspired Kim Stanley Robinson and Andy Weir, mainly because its strengths are their
This is the manifesto which propelled engineer Robert Zubrin into the forefront of advocating human exploration of Mars.

This is at least partly based on prior work by scientists at the Case for Mars conferences in the 1980s, of which Zubrin was a participating member. The Case for Mars conferences were a series of meetings by NASA scientists and other interested scientists, conducted outside of NASA's aegis. The ideas and demeanor of those conferences have been influential to NASA's Mars explora
Dylan Valine
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a book of grand ambitions, about getting to Mars in 10 years and eventually it goes on to talk about colonization and terraforming. In this there are definitly times where the author takes on the brightest of views and uses rose tinted glasses. That being said the acual plans to get to Mars in 10 years without budget breaking costs is the hihglight of this books and makes up the first half of the book. The second half focuses more on other areas such as colonization and terraforming as w ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jon Norimann
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science_fiction
The case for Mars is Zubrin writing about his own pet project, Mars Direct. It is a practical and realistic project to establish a lasting human settlement on the planet Mars. Back in 1995 when The Case for Mars was written it must have been a superb book however by 2017 it is starting to get dated. By now we can also conclude Zubrin failed in gathering support for Mars Direct and other Mars ideas are more presently more promising.

Presently the main value of Mars Direct and this book is it was a
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Zubrin made the case for a cheap, efficient "Mars Direct" mission to send 4 people to Mars and keep them there for a couple years, using very available technology, in 1990. In the 2011 edition of this 1996 book, there were updates which made the case even stronger, and the case is stronger still today.

The funny thing is every one of the errors in the 1996 version was in underestimating the incompetence of governments, the high pace of non-aerospace technology development, and Elon Musk -- i.e. Z
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The case for Mars is a scientific book, heavy in formulaic equations and reasoning around why humans should settle on Mars. And actually read an expose on government regulations, what does legislative restrictions and overall the premise for why we should continue to investigate and settle on Mars.

Today’s environment is ripe for a new frontier and the author points this out not once not twice but many times in his book and I have to agree with him. Our last great frontier was the American west a
Troy Tegeder
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly detailed set of plans for Mars exploration and colonization using technology we have right now. RZ has been an engineer in the space industry for most of his life, and is a brilliant mind capable of thinking outside the box yet remain completely practical and thorough in his research. A main takeaway is that NASA inhibits what could be a relatively cheap set of meaningful mars missions because the various heads of NASA want to use any Missile to further their own projects, balloon ...more
Andrea Montieri
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know a realistic plan in order to colonize Mars, this is your book.

Robert Zubrin explains with many scientific and economic details how to create and organize a mission that can settle Mars in few years, without the use of future technology or an immense quantity of funds and money.
Funding, transportations, production of water, oxygen and fuel, shielding from radiation, all these factors are taken into consideration, together with the use of in situ martian resources.

An enlighteni
Michael Toepper
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Convinced me we need to go to Mars!

The authors and I seem to be kindred spirits. Since I approach topics from an engineering presoective, I loved the technical details and supporting arguments for one method over another. I also appreciated the insider view into the politics of space projects and the explanation of why we are where we are today with respect to going to Mars. I presupposed the moon should be our next spot for humans to take root, I am now convinced Mars not the moon should be our
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Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of 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.

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