RAND SIMBERG REVIEWS Bob Zubrin’s new book, The New World on Mars: What We Can Create on the Red Planet. Quoth Rand: “No one in history has more popularized the idea of Mars being a suitable place for the expansion of humanity than Robert Zubrin. A nuclear and aerospace engineer and founder and president of the Mars Society [and a contributing editor of this journal –Ed.], Zubrin first proposed his plans for getting to the planet and settling there at the 1990 International Space Development Conference, which I attended. He called the plan ‘Mars Direct,’ to distinguish it from NASA’s more convoluted and less economical plan. His 1996 book based on the concept, The Case For Mars, has become a classic in the literature on the exploration and development of space.”

I was there too, and it was the most exciting talk I’ve ever heard. But here’s what’s changed since then: “In the last decade, the SpaceX Falcon family, and particularly the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, have already reduced the price of getting a pound of mass to orbit to below a thousand dollars, largely by reusing the first stages. Some of those stages are now approaching twenty reuses. Zubrin makes the plausible case that, at the levels of activity desired by Musk, with full reusability of hardware, the price to orbit could come down to some fifty dollars per pound.”