“The Case for Space” – Book Review by James Melton

How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility by Dr. Robert Zubrin, Author, Aerospace Engineer, President and Founder of The Mars Society. Prometheus Books, New York, 2019; hardcover: 395 pages, $25.00.



As time is infinite, Stephen Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, is an oxymoron. So might be, The Case for Space, by Dr. Robert Zubrin. Dr. Zubrin intriguingly takes us on a journey, of what was previously a seemingly impossible fantasy. His book turns “Space” into a logical and doable reality. This is a compelling summary of the world of space and space travel with insightful details of how to bring the vision of human space flight into short-term view.

With his uncomplicated, rational graphs and projections and colored photo plates, we can easily see how space travel to Mars and other solar system destinations can be affordable for the common person, and will be a highly and financially profitable adventure. A virtual gold mine awaits those willing to step forward into growth from the Space adventure. Asteroid mining, planetary protection and terraforming pacts, intellectual property such as patients, energy sale and rights, real estate plots and a myriad of other opportunities lie waiting to be tapped and nurtured. Financial gain and human curiosity may be the major initial impetus that will send Humans on an interplanetary exploration.

Zubrin enthusiastically states, “This is the greatest time to be alive.” Keeping current with private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and multiple companies moving forward exponentially is challenging. With a myriad of government and private rocket launches annually, including launching thousands of Cube-Sats to circle the globe for worldwide internet connection, these launches are becoming increasingly difficult to monitor. So, how do we entice innovative solutions? Enter diverse entrepreneurial students, amateurs and out-of-the-box thinkers with unconventional solutions.

Zubrin gives credit where credit is due by sharing visions, ideas and prizes to inspire space research by those taking steps to seriously explore space endeavors. Prizes are key incentives sponsored by organizations and people like Peter Diamandis of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and founder of the XPRIZE Foundation, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic. Plus The Mars Society, Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR), and the philanthropy and kleos of Elon Musk.

What inspires some people to reach further and higher than others? And what makes them take giant strides toward an inspiring future in space? Greater than money, the holy grail here is the power of an idea! Focus, dedication and discipline while fully immersed in the idea. Zubrin adheres to the old adage that “Nothing succeeds like success,” but in Zubrin’s terms, “Nothing succeeds like persistence.”

However, in The Case for Space, Zubrin states that success comes with a price tag that many are unwilling to pay. Implying that through the work of people like Musk, Bezos, Branson, Asimov and Zubrin himself, the reader is prompted to explore what tips the balance between social curiosity, focus, risk/reward, control and likeability.

The space race is on. Space may very soon have ‘space’ for the average person to explore and innovate. The how and why of preparing and implementing a spacefaring future is realistically and eloquently addressed with subtle and dry humor with the science to back it up. Space tourism, orbiting hotels, Moon bases and Martian colonies all combined to deliver spinoff technology that will make the proposed financial investment utterly dwarfed by the benefits unveiled for use by Humanity.

Encouragement for action is the final request of this most complete and authoritative body of footnoted and documented research. Dr. Zubrin leaves us with his final words to prompt us to make a mark in history in our own inimitable way as he states, “Making history is not a spectator sport. It’s your turn at the plate.” Yes, the baton needs to be passed.

Prepare yourself for a grander view of our venture into space. Prepare to launch your mind on a journey that few dare to tread. Prepare to discover new worlds. The Case for Space makes the reader look deeper into why Space venture is critical for our time; why we can no longer ignore the inevitable, and how it can be accomplished. As has been said of other pressing issues needing our attention on planet Earth: “The hour is late. The stakes could not be higher. The project could not be harder, but the payoff could not be greater.


Book review by:
James Melton, PhD
Speaker, Author, Coach
Contributing writer for the National Space Society’s official magazine, adAstra. Chapter organizer and member of the Mars Society, www.MarsSociety.org.