When Robert Zubrin was 5, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik, Earth's first artificial satellite. "I can remember it," he says. "While the adults may have found it terrifying, I found it exhilarating." Zubrin, 59, has a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering. He is the author of The Case for Mars (Free Press) and a founder of the Mars Society, an international group devoted to the promotion of a manned mission to the Red Planet, preferably through private funding. In "How Much Is an Astronaut's Life Worth?" (page 28), Zubrin argues that bold space endeavors have been delayed because the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is too timid to risk astronaut lives. "The world is never ready to do great things," he says, "but some people always are."
Competitive Enterprise Institute adjunct scholar Rand Simberg, 57, is a consultant in space technology, business, and policy. In "A Twinkle of Hope" (page 20), he outlines the prerequisites for more competitive, commercialized, and cost-effective space ventures. Simberg has childhood memories of John Glenn going into orbit, the Apollo I launch pad fire, and the moon landing. On moving beyond NASA (and beyond low Earth orbit), Simberg says "the government is not going to get out of the space business…but it can do a lot of things smarter."
In "Steve Jobs, the Inhumane Humanist" (page 56), Michael Godwin reviews Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster), Walter Isaacson's new biography of the late Apple founder. Godwin, a lawyer specializing in technology and free speech, has worked for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology. He is the author of Free Speech: Defending Cyber Rights in a Digital Age (Crown Business) and the discoverer of Godwin's Law, which states that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." Godwin, 56, uses numerous Apple products and considers himself "a Jobs fan (in spite of his character)."