Robert Zubrin is an aerospace and nuclear engineer, inventor, and long time advocate of Mars exploration and colonization. Stymied by slow government development, Zubrin founded the Mars Society in 1998, of which he is still president. Zubrin has long been frustrated with the slow rate of progress in manned space exploration. In the talk below, he highlights what he sees as one of the causes: excessive safety requirements.
“You’re saying that you’re going to give up four billion dollars to avoid a one in seven chance of killing an astronaut, you’re basically saying an astronaut’s life is worth twenty-eight billion dollars,” says Zubrin. “If you put this extreme value on the life of an astronaut…then you never fly, and you get a space agency which costs seventeen billion dollars a year and accomplishes nothing.”
Zubrin worked at Lockheed Martin and developed the mission profile that NASA adopted as its design reference mission for a manned trip to Mars before branching into private advocacy efforts. His patented inventions include a hybrid rocket/airplane and a nuclear salt-water rocket. He has written several books about space and Martian settlement.
Hear his full argument for accepting more risk in the video below and in his article for reason.com that preceded it.