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How Does This Board Feel About Robert Zubrin?


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For those of you who are not familiar with him, Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author of some note. He is probably best known for his advocacy of the 'Mars Direct' proposal, although he's also done quite a bit of work in the nuclear spacecraft propulsion field (he's the guy that came up with the NSWR). His wiki page says he's also written on other vaguely political topics, but I'm not familiar with them.

 

 

Personally, I find his work on spacecraft propulsion highly interesting, and it's good that we've got somebody putting forth cogent ideas for space exploration. However, I feel that some of his ideas are a bit too optimistic, especially in regards to his Mars Direct approach. I feel that it would be more optimal to gain more experience with long term off-planet living in a location such as the moon before proceeding to Mars, while also using that time to mature techniques such as nuclear rockets to actually get to Mars. On a related note, I showed his NSWR paper to a guy I know who has some not insignificant knowledge of nuclear physics, and he was a bit skeptical. Still, in my opinion, it's infinitely better to have somebody be a bit overoptimistic about how well their ideas will work, and keeps push them forward, then a bunch of limp wristed pessimists who are afraid to send anyone beyond LEO because it might cost a few million dollars.

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My friends who are more inclined to delve into details of rocketry generally consider Zubrin to be insane, but I must admit greatly liking the idea of a propulsion system whose principle revolves around containing a nuclear explosion within a shielded vessel and spurting the resulting energized propellant out of the rocket's ass.

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