Broadcast 1583 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

28 Jun 2011 Dr. Robert Zubrin
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Guest: Dr. Robert (Bob) Zubrin. Topics: Human spaceflight to Mars and more. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. Dr. Zubrin has completely rewritten in book, "Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must" and it became available this date. You can buy this completely updated Case for Mars from the OGLF Amazon partners page using If you buy it using the OGLF link, Amazon makes a nice contribution to OGLF/The Space Show. Our two our discussion with Dr. Zubrin was in two segments. We started with Dr. Zubrin telling us what was new in his book. He had some very interesting observations. For example, the robotic section was very different from when he wrote the original book 15 years ago, but this was not the case with the human spaceflight section of the book. From this discussion, Bob covered lots of topics including Mars rovers, the upcoming Mars Science Lab mission and he even talked about funding the Vasimr project. He compared & contrasted funds for this project to no funds for nuclear propulsion research. Dr. Zubrin spent considerable time talking about the need for a mission and he compared and contrasted a mission driven program to what we have seen unfold for decades with ISS, the shuttle, and existing hardware. For example, we have an ISS, what can we use it for? The same for the Space Shuttle. Funding for projects that would eventually be cancelled seemed to be the name of the game. This brought up space policy, leadership & courage. He said the bright spot in all of this was the private sector space development, specifically Space X. From here, Dr. Zubrin talked about heavy lift, partial heavy lift, and how essential it was for going beyond LEO. We talked about challenges awaiting a manned Mars mission. Bob had much to say about engineering issues such as landing big payloads on Mars as well as human factors issues, specifically microgravity on the human body. Don't miss this discussion with Dr. Zubrin citing examples supporting what he was talking about such as WW2 bomber pilots, hypoxia, and the use of O2 masks. In our second segment, Bob described both Mars Direct and Mars Semi-Direct. He detailed the Falcon launches, the time lines, the use of the Dragon capsule with inflatable's attached to it, and the available power for the mission, all starting around 2018. When asked for the action plan to get the program going, he said courage was needed and we talked about that while also discussing the need for new systems, technology, etc. Listeners were calling and asking him questions during the program. He was also asked about the push for international cooperation for manned missions. He also got a question on fusion energy since he mentioned his experiences working in the fusion field. You might be surprised by what he had to say & his suggested time lines for fusion reactors. Bob was asked about the Orion capsule as compared to Dragon and for his thoughts on a Moon base. Phobos missions came up & he went into detail as to why he believes a Phobos mission is dumb. A listener asked about space solar power and low cost launches to LEO. Bob explained why he is not supportive of SSP and then shifted to the Transorbital Railroad idea to get launch costs to LEO down to around $20/lb. He concluded by saying that history was not a spectator sport and we must make things happen. Post your questions and comments on the blog URL above. If you want to email Dr. Zubrin, do so through me at



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