Many years ago, when the various Mars orbiters and landers were but drawings on paper, NASA made an important decision – to “follow the water.” The goal wasn’t to focus on colonizing a planet; it was intended to help in the hunt for alien life. No water, no life. It now seems a bit ironic that NASA’s insistence on investigating whether or not there is life on Mars has in fact led us to a completely different understanding: that there can be life on Mars – human life.
Stephen Petranek offers a crash course on humanity’s history with Mars, including details of the beginning of rocket science, all the way through to the steps we need to make in order to secure a future for our species on the red planet, all while being a relatively easy read which is unlikely to go over anyone’s head.
Recently, after one of his rockets exploded just above its launch pad, Elon Musk wryly tweeted: “Rockets are tricky.” He’s right, close to two-thirds of all the attempts to get probes to Mars have failed.
Nevertheless, the development of two different spacecraft that could get humans to Mars – SpaceX’s Dragon capsules and NASA’s Orion – has changed the basic question that’s been floating around since Das Marsprojekt was written: Can we get to Mars? The answer is yes. The new question: Can we live on Mars? The answer to that is yes, too, but as Elon Musk might say, it’s tricky.
The space race is on once more, with private companies (driven by iconoclastic entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson); Dutch reality show / space mission Mars One; NASA and the Chinese government among the many groups competing to plant the first stake on Mars and open the door for human habitation.The rest of this review can be found here!