What is an Astronaut's Life Worth?: An Interview with Robert Zubrin


"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 astronautical engineer and author Dr. Robert Zubrin.  

Zubrin, the author of a popular and controversial article in Reason's space-centric February 2012 Special Issue, argues that the risk of losing one of the seven astronauts who repaired and rescued the Hubble Space Telescope was well worth it. "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."

NASA's role, according to Zubrin, should be in the pursuit of ambitious missions such as "opening Mars to humanity," rather than a bloated, safety-obsessed bureaucracy. "The mission has to come first."

Runs about 3.50 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Josh Swain.

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