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Robert Zubrin proposes fuel manufacturing experiment for NASA's Mars 2020 probe

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Robert Zubrin, an advocate of Mars exploration and settlement and the author of a number of books, made the following announcement on his Facebook page on January 17, 2014:

“This week my space technology company, Pioneer Astronautics, submitted a proposal to NASA to put a small machine on the Mars 2020 rover that will make fuel and oxygen out of local materials. If it is flown, it will demonstrate the key technology needed for human Mars exploration and settlement. It will also provide a great deal of information about the planet's geology, its resources, its history, and its past, present, and future suitability for life. We are working with Honeybee Robotics and Moog and have a first class science team on board as well. It's a terrific proposal - very, very strong. No one else has anything like it. I think it has real winning chances. Time will tell. We may just get to Mars yet.”

Zubrin, whose classic book “The Case for Mars,” revolutionized thinking on Mars exploration and settlement, has long noted that the cost of travel to Mars could be mitigated considerably if a way were developed to make rocket fuel and other consumables on Mars. The idea is that it would not be necessary to carry all of those supplies from Earth, thus reducing the size and cost of the Mars ship. Zubrin’s ideas have been incorporated into NASA planning for human expeditions to the Red Planet, currently envisioned for the 2030s.

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