mars or bust!


On a Saturday last August just outside the nation’s capital, Dr. Robert Zubrin saw his ambitions come crashing back to Earth—or, more accurately, back to the moon. Chris McKay, a NASA astrobiologist, had just delivered a speech to the Mars Society in which he proposed a human space exploration program based around a permanent lunar base. A trip to Mars, he said, should be delayed for several decades as humanity learns to live on our closest celestial body. “I grew up with Star Trek—the original series,” McKay said, “and the slogan was ‘to boldly go.’ Going is easy… we need to boldly stay.” As soon as McKay finished, a dozen livid conference-goers—most wearing “Mars or Bust” pins—stormed the two audience microphones at the front of the hall. First in line was Zubrin, the Mars Society’s founder and president. “The reason we didn’t stay on the moon is because there was nothing worth staying for!” howled Zubrin, whose unkempt comb-over, baggy eyelids, and impatient bark give the impression that he rarely gets more than three hours of sleep. “The prospect for agriculture on Mars is vastly superior. After we learn to live on Mars, we can use that as practice for living on the moon!”

more from Eric Benson and Justin Nobel at Guernica here.