By Denise Chow, NBC News, 08.19.18
To say Robert Zubrin is passionate about Mars is a bit of an understatement. The 66-year-old aerospace engineer has devoted the better part of his life to thinking about and encouraging the exploration of Mars.
In 1998, Zubrin co-founded The Mars Society, a Lakewood, Colorado-based nonprofit, and in the years since has become an outspoken advocate for the establishment of a permanent settlement on Mars — and a harsh critic of what he considers NASA's stagnant human spaceflight program.
Recently, NBC News MACH spoke with Zubrin about why he feels so strongly that humans should colonize Mars and that NASA shouldn't build a lunar "spaceport" — and why Mars exploration is so deeply personal to him.
The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
MACH: NASA has sent robotic landers and rovers to Mars. Why is it important to send humans?
Zubrin: Humans are vastly more effective as explorers than robots. The most important questions about Mars are on the search for life, past and present. So we're interested in fossil hunting and we're interested in extinct life. Fossil hunting on Earth requires hiking long distances through difficult terrain, involves digging and pickaxe ...