Indian Hills, Colorado — January 5, 2000 —  During its brilliantly successful Christmas mission to refurbish and repair the Hubble Space Telescope, the Space Shuttle Discovery carried a Martian flag into orbit for the first time.

The Martian flag carried aboard Discovery was a red, green and blue tricolor, with the vertical red segment closest to the mast, followed by the green, and then the blue. Its form was originally suggested to Mars Society president Robert Zubrin by Mars Arctic Research Station task force leader Pascal Lee during their summer 1999 site selection expedition to Devon Island. The red, green and blue colors derive from stages of Mars’ transformation from barrenness to life depicted in the epic “Red Mars,” “Green Mars,” “Blue Mars” trilogy written by Kim Stanley Robinson. Red, green and blue are also the primary components of the spectrum, symbolizing unity in diversity, as well as light itself, and thus reason and enlightenment. The tricolor form also traditionally represents the republican values of liberty, equality and justice. The flag was sewn by Maggie Zubrin and brought aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery at the invitation of astronaut John  Mace Grunsfeld.  Astronauts are allowed to manifest several items of special importance on Space Shuttle flights of an official nature.

In her book, “The First Salute,” the historian Barbara Tuchman wrote; “White puffs of gun smoke over a turquoise sea followed by the boom of cannon rose from the unassuming fort on the diminutive Dutch island of St. Eustatius in the West Indies on November 16, 1776. The guns of Fort Orange on St. Eustatius were returning the ritual salute on entering a foreign port of an American vessel, the Andrea Doria, as she came up the roadstead, flying at her mast the red-and-white-striped flag of the Continental Congress. In its responding salute, the small voice of St. Eustatius was the first to officially greet the largest event of the century – the entry into the society of nations of a new Atlantic state destined to change the direction of history.”

The Martian flag, representing some of the noblest ideals human civilization has to offer, has now been honored by a vessel of the leading spacefaring nation of the Earth. It is fitting that this action occurred when it did; at the dawning of a new millenium, for surely the largest event of the next era will be the birth of the first of humanity’s new nations in space.

Mars now has a great flag, one that calls for a great new people to fulfill its promise.

Three cheers for the red, green and blue!


The Mars Society is a non-profit organization. Our purpose is:

To further the goal of the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet. This will be done by:

1. Broad public outreach to instill the vision of pioneering Mars.
2. Support of ever more aggressive government funded Mars exploration programs around the world.
3. Conducting Mars exploration on a private basis.

Starting small, with hitchhiker payloads on government funded missions, we intend to use the credibility that such activity will engender to mobilize larger resources that will enable stand-alone private robotic missions and ultimately human exploration.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Robert Zubrin
The Mars Society
Indian Hills, Colorado, 80454
Telephone: 303.980.0890