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Today's Featured Review

Robert Zubrin's The Case for Mars

Manufacturer:Free Press

Contributed by Robert A. Morstadt

After reading this book I can understand why there should be a strong emphasis for the manned exploration of Mars and why Mars should be the focus of our attention. By comparison manned exploration of the moon is really not that important. The moon does not have resources that can easily be exploited. It does not have an atmosphere, oxygen is not easily extractable from the lunar rocks, and there is no carbon in the environment. Even the lunar night/day cycle is not conducive to growing plants.

The book is long at about 350 pages. But, it starts out in an exciting way in the first chapter, which is only 18 pages long, with a manned Mars Direct program starting in the year 2020 and costing only 30 billion dollars to develop. Using current technology and a heavy-lift vehicle about the size of the Saturn V, a sequence of launches is started. The first launch is unmanned and carries a nuclear reactor as a power source and 6 tons of liquid hydrogen. After landing on Mars this hydrogen is converted into 108 tons of methane and oxygen from the Martian atmosphere (95 percent carbon dioxide) using gaslight technology and the nuclear power source.

This is enough fuel and oxidizer to provide land propulsion on the Martian surface and a trip home for the four astronauts that arrive about three years later using a similar size launch vehicle. Herein lies the key for the proposed Mars Direct program - to utilize as much as possible the Martian resources that are available.

Like early explorers that came to America, who didn't carry their air, food, water, and fuel with them to live permanently in the New World, so Martian explorers will use the resources of Mars. Even the thin Martian atmosphere, which is equivalent to the earth's atmosphere at about 100,000 feet, can be used for aero-braking. In fact, taking into account the Martian aero-braking and surface refueling, it is more efficient in terms of mission delta velocity requirements to go to Mars first and then go to the Moon rather than go to the Moon directly. Naturally, this route takes more time, but it is more efficient in terms of delta velocity.

For a cost of about $3 billion per year a four-man crew and a Martian habitat can be sent annually, building up a Martian base. Problems like radiation and zero gravity en route can be overcome and are not show-stoppers. Eventually, air-bubble shelters could be built to provide a shirt-sleeve environment using nuclear power and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to make oxygen. The carbon dioxide can also be used to reduce iron oxide to make iron.

Using different processes other raw materials can be made. In the long-range view, Martian terraforming may be a real possibility provided there is enough carbon dioxide in the Martian regolith (soil, rock, etc.). It may be possible that by raising the Martian atmospheric temperature by a relatively small amount, enough out-gassing from the regolith may be available to raise the Martian atmospheric pressure to some appreciable fraction of one Earth atmosphere in 1,000 to 2,000 years. This could be accomplished by putting solar mirrors in orbit aimed at the Martian poles. Such an atmosphere would allow humans to walk on the Martian surface without a pressure suit, although a breathing apparatus would still be required. However, since the Martian day is only 40 minutes longer than an Earth day, plants would do just fine in the carbon dioxide atmosphere.

This is an exciting book to read and a "must-read" book for any space enthusiast. Real manned exploration in our solar system takes on a new meaning in this book.

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Today's Featured Flyer

Ken E. Coyote

AKA: Ken E.Coyote

Location: GWL, NY

Club Memberships: NAR, Metra Rocket Club

Favorite Rockets: Rocketarium Mega Vortico


Although I always wanted to get into rocketry I never really got the chance since I grew up in a crowded city.  However I did fire a ridiculous amount of small bottle rockets when I was younger (I would hope that counts somewhat! :)  I've loved building things growing up...static model kits were the norm and I got into RC models as I got older.  I also love wordworking and any type of craft which involves making stuff.  Rocketry seems to be the perfect fit for me!  I LOVE the multi-media nature as well as the point that the rocket doesn't have to have a perfect paint job to look good (especially good if your eyesight gets worse as you age).  Great bonus is that these rockets aren't static and can be blasted off into the great blue yonder and (hopefully) return safely for another go.  I'm the creative type and I love the diversity of kits out there...this hobby is screaming for me to go crazy with silly (but safe) designs.  I've just started rocketry in 2014, but wow, I've learned a lot!

Thanks for reading! 

Favorite Quote:

Wile E. Coyote is a genius!  Laughing

You know you're a Rockethead if you go to the store or supermarket and start thinking "I think I can make that into a rocket"!



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Today's Featured Photo


Awesome Estes upscale

Photo by Dick Stafford

Today's Featured Video

Winter Nationals 2005

View our collection of about 5,800 rocketry videos.

Featured Rocketry Blog Posts Blog: 2015 National Sport Launch Photos and Video
The Rocketry Organization of South Carolina at Orangeburg (ROSCO) hosted the National Association of Rocketry’s 2015 National Sport Launch over Memorial Day weekend. The three-day event featured flights by rocketry enthusiasts from around the world. [View More of Roger and Bracha Smith’s Photos of NSL 2015] Saturday’s weather featured bright blue skies and a bit of wind. [View More of Kevin Boyd’s Photos from NSL 2015 Day 1] Saturday night ended with a night launch. Though Sunday began with the same, clear blue skies that we had on Saturday, ...
[Read More in This Series]

Wayne Hill's Blog: Full Scale V2 Model Successfully Launches
A world record setting full scale V2 model launched at Thunda Downunder in Australia. It was a spectacular Low and Slow launch. Height – 14.04 metres. That’s over 46 feet high! Mass at lift off – 280kg or 617 lbs. Powered By CTI O motor Video of Launch on Facebook You can read more about this [ ...
[Read More]

Model Rocket Building: Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 1, Plans and Parts
This model was from Peter Alway's Home Page. I can't seem to find it now! If anybody has a link, let me know. The website had plenty of sport and scale plans including a Vostok, Saturn I and a Flying Rabbit that looks better than the old Estes Cloud Hopper. You can get Peter Alway's books: Rockets of the World HERE and Scale Bash HERE Both highly recommended! There's one model that has been on my "to-do" list for a while. The SATURN IV! This is Peter's "psuedo-scale" design of a Saturn that could have existed between the Saturn 1 and Saturn V, the Saturn IV. Full resolution plans aren't ...
[Read More in This Series]

Model Rocket Building: Estes Payloader II #3022 Build, Part 1 Parts
All the parts are standard and of good quality. For a while it was rare to find kits with clear payload section tubes. I'm glad to see they made a comeback. Part of interest: The laser cut fins didn't get cut all the way through the wood. While you should never just punch fins off the sheet, these will take a few passes with a sharp knife to free them.
[Read More in This Series]

Rich's Rockets: My hands are clean
If you’ve ever handled black fiber centering rings you probably know how messy they can get. So here’s how packed the ones I just bought from them:
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Rocketry Deals

Product NameList PriceSale PriceDiscountStore
Estes 302264 12 inches Parachute$7.99$3.2659.20%
Dremel 4000-6/50 120-Volt Variable-Speed Rotary Kit$269.58$137.6648.94%
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Badger Air-Brush Company Minitaire Color Paint Set with Color Coat/Paint Retarder$271.40$157.0542.13%
Estes Sky Shark Model Rocket Kit$12.99$7.6041.49%
Estes Flutter-By Model Rocket Kit$12.99$7.7140.65%
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique$25.95$15.5839.96%
Testors Promotional Enamel Paint Set$13.00$7.9139.15%
Estes Nike Smoke$79.99$49.9837.52%
J-B Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy (10 oz.)$19.60$12.3237.14%

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