Robert Zubrin’s “the Significance of the Martian Frontier”


Robert Zubrin, an American aerospace engineer and author, wrote the essay The Significance of the Martian Frontier. He argues that the technological and cultural advancements of “Western humanist civilization” were the result of a frontier – a wild and unknown territory of vast resources. The Greeks had the Mediterranean. The United States had the American West (never mind that the Native Americans were here long before).

Zubrin argues for the need of a new frontier, namely Mars. He cites Frederick Jackson Turner‘s essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” and uses it to argue that human civilization will decline and turn to mush if we find another frontier soon.

It’s an inspirational essay, and although it smacks a bit of social Darwinism and white man’s burden, is well worth the read. Reminds me of an essay I wrote in high school about how Americans have lost their rugged individualism.

It’s sad that Zubrin probably won’t see his dream of Martian colonization fulfilled within his lifetime. He seems like a baller guy. He’s accomplished a lot such as inventing the concept of a nuclear salt-water rocket, a nuclear thermal rocket powered by plutonium or uranium dissolved in water. He’s written a ton of books on the case of Martian expansion.