Robert Zubrin

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Aerospace engineer and author best known for his advocacy of manned Mars exploration. Was the driving force behind Mars Direct - a proposal that significantly reduced the cost and complexity of such a mission by using the Martian atmosphere to produce rocket propellant for the return journey. A modified version of the plan was subsequently adopted by NASA as their "design reference mission". Disappointed with the lack of interest from government in Mars exploration, Zubrin formed the Mars Society in 1998, an international organisation advocating a manned Mars mission as a goal, by private funding if necessary.

Zubrin's books include The Case For Mars, in which he outlines the Mars Direct plan along with speculating on the economic, social and technical viability of future Martian colonization, Entering Space, a more futuristic look at humanity's possible colonization of the solar system and the feasibility of interstellar flight with known physics, and First Landing, a (barely) fictional tale about a near-future Mars flight using the Mars Direct plan.