2013/04/24

Zubrin on Inspiration Mars ('Destination Mars' - Frontier Journeys To The Red Planet, Audio Interview)


Robert Zubrin starts 28 minutes into 'Destination Mars' - Frontier Journeys to the Red Planet:

"The greatest hope here is, this proposal that's been advanced by Dennis Tito, known as Inspiration Mars, to send two people on a Mars fly-by mission, which, will not accomplish very much exploration - except that it will prove that human interplanetary flight is possible. It will thus - as it were - take the dragons off the map…eliminate the paralyzing fear that is preventing NASA from embracing 'humans to Mars' and leaving them without basically any goals for their human spaceflight program right now. But furthermore in terms of a private flight as such, see, the two person fly-by is doable probably for less than a billion dollars if done in the private sector - for less than two, really, if done by major contractors.

"I proposed such a mission to Golden, in 1995, but, he passed. But Tito while he doesn't have a billion dollars to spend, has tens of millions, which is enough to start a fund-raising effort that could do this, which is enough to raise a billion, and - if - they - do - this - mission, they will have sufficient credibility to raise funds from the broad public to fund, um, privately funded human Mars exploration. And, see, there's seven billion people on this planet, of which a billion live in the advanced sector and of which at least ten percent believe in a positive future in which it is important that humans expand into space. That would be enough to fund the colonization of Mars, if ya had them organized. So in other words the harvest is plentiful but the gatherers are few. And, the Tito vision could actually be the thing that raises the flag high enough to rally the forces to make this possible."

"I don't think this can be done for profit - this needs to be done for hope and faith. Okay? Other colonization efforts in the past have been done for that reason. The Pilgrims, the Mormons, the Jews going to Israel - and by the way they were all supported by fund-raising organizations of their colleagues who did not go, but who raised logistics to make it possible for the colonists to go, based on a belief that this was important."

"I think that we have a game-changer here with respect to 'humans to Mars' and the Tito mission. Mars is where the science is, it's where the science is, it's where the challenge is, it's where the future is. It's where we'll find out if life developed where it had a reasonable chance to develop. And it's where we're going to find out if we can become a spacefaring multi-planet species. It's the closet planet with all the resources needed to support life and therefore civilization. And this is the challenge that's been staring NASA in the face basically since the Apollo missions ended. They've been frantically looking for, you know, anything to do. And right now we have a human spaceflight program, where, if we ask them, "where are we going to be 10 years from now?" The answer would be "exactly where we are now." They're operating with an Apollo scale budget actually…that is, if you took NASA's average funding, from '61 to '73 and you add it all up, converted to today's money, divided by 13 years, you'd come out with 20 billion a year.  NASA's budget this year is, you know, 17 billion. So it's a little less, but, it's not like it's a factor of four less. Or anything of that sort. So it's comparable to Apollo levels - and yet we don't have anything like Apollo-era accomplishments. There are no goals, there is no focus - except, in the robotic program. That's mission driven. That's why it accomplishes things."

"The human spaceflight program is basically constituent driven. It's a way for NASA to spend money to give to contractors. I'm all for money to go to contractors - because I am a NASA contractor - but, it would be much better if it went to contractors that actually accomplished something."