Clinton: I Support Exploration Of Mars

I was thrilled to see the following notice in the AIAA (American institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics daily news summary for September 13:
Clinton: I Support Human Exploration Of Mars.

Space News (9/13, Subscription Publication) reports that “in a response to a questionnaire on science policy topics released Sept. 13 by ScienceDebate.org,” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that she supports a manned mission to Mars, and quotes Clinton as saying, “A goal of my administration will be to…advance our ability to make human exploration of Mars a reality.” Space News notes that Clinton “broadly endorsed” NASA’s efforts, and said she would ensure NASA “has the leadership, funding and operational flexibility” to work with industry. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “did not formally support a human Mars exploration program” in his response, but said that the federal government “should encourage innovation in the areas of space exploration.”

While the Mars Society is a non-partisan organization, the fact that a major party candidate is explicitly talking about sending humans to Mars is not only exciting in and of itself, but a sea change from the situation only a few years ago. As recently as a couple of election cycles back a Mars Society member got to ask the presidential candidates of one party during the primary season about sending humans to Mars and it was dismissed as a crank question. Our older members may remember a time back in the 70’s when a leading senator (who later became Vice President) led the charge to cancel the human space program in its entirety by cancelling the Space Shuttle, calling it a ‘senseless extravagance’. Now a vigorous space program and sending humans to Mars is becoming bi-partisan national policy. Politicians as odd a set of bedfellows as Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders have both advocated more spending on space exploration. While we are not there yet – the distance we have come is incredible. In no small part this change is due to the dedicated activities of the Mars Society and our like minded sister organizations – that means all of us. I look forward to the future.

– Kurt, President of the Dallas Chapter

Meeting with Astronaut Charlie Duke

Ron and I went to see Charlie Duke, Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16, at the Petroleum Club last Wednesday, June 29. Charlie is a very articulate speaker with a great sense of humor and humility at the incredible job he did as an Apollo astronaut and Moon-walker. There aren’t many Moon-walkers around, and it was a treat to see and meet one in person (I even got to ride the elevator up to the meeting with Charlie Duke – a long story I’ll tell at the next group meeting!).

Charlie and Ron

Here is a picture of Ron from our group with General Duke.

Kurt

Congratulations on Juno

I want to extend our congratulations to NASA and JPL for the successful orbiting of the Juno probe around Jupiter on our Nation’s Birthday, July 4th. Many of us older folk remember that the Viking 1 lander, nearing its 40th anniversary, was planned to land on July 4th, 1976, but was delayed due to dust storms to July 20th – an equally momentous date in Space history!

Juno is a remarkable machine with an assignment in one of the harshest possible environments in the solar system: an orbit close to Jupiter’s massive radiation and magnetic fields.

Juno will now begin its mission of examining the structure of the ‘gas giant’, whose internal dynamics remain poorly understood. Hopefully this will also give design insight to support the upcoming Europa orbiter / lander mission, currently in its planning stage, and second only to a Mars sample return in terms of NASA priority.

Juno is also the deepest space probe to use solar, rather, nuclear power, a testimony to the increasing efficiency of solar power panels, itself a remarkable achievement with many potential benefits to life here on Earth.

Kurt

Press Release: 64% of Americans Agree that the United States Should Send Humans to Mars, Study Shows

ExploreMarsLogoPRESS CONTACT: Chris Carberry
CEO, Explore Mars Inc.
carberry@exploremars.org
617-909-4425

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 23, 2016 –  Explore Mars, Inc., a non-profit educational and research organization committed to the goal of sending humans to Mars, today released the results of a national public opinion poll on attitudes and support for the U.S. space program and deep space exploration. This scientific survey was designed to elicit at least 1,067 responses to ensure a representative sampling of the U.S. population that provides statistically accurate results at a 95% confidence level and an error rate of ±3%.

Highlights include:

  • 84% of Americans agree or strongly agree that America leads the world in space exploration (regardless of education level)
  • 64% of Americans agree that the U.S. should send humans to Mars
  • Regardless of demographics, all groups overwhelmingly support the statement that “Exploration is critical to prosperity and progress.”
  • 62% of those surveyed believe humans are necessary for space exploration (versus robots)

Poll_1-640x466

“This data clearly shows that the American public is firmly behind sending humans to Mars,” commented Chris Carberry, CEO of Explore Mars. “A groundswell of public support for Mars exploration has been building for the past few years, and we hope the next administration will review the results of this poll and accelerate our goal of sending humans to Mars.”

“It should come as great news to those two-thirds of Americans who want to see humans on the surface of Mars that NASA and its partners are steadily building and testing the rockets and other hardware that will put humans on Mars by the mid 2030s,” said Artemis Westenberg, President of Explore Mars.

This survey was commissioned by Phillips & Company of Austin, Texas.

To view the poll, click the link here

Explore Mars Submits Letter to Space Subcommittee Hearing

ExploreMarsLogo

PRESS CONTACT: Chris Carberry
CEO, Explore Mars Inc.
carberry@exploremars.org
617-909-4425

The Human Exploration of Mars: A Congressional Opportunity

Dear Committee Chairman Smith, Committee Ranking Member Johnson, Space Subcommittee Chairman Babin, and Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Edwards

Explore Mars, Inc. respectfully submits this letter to the Committee with reference to the hearing, Next Steps to Mars: Deep Space Habitats, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 2016. We thank you and the rest of the members of the Committee for scheduling this hearing and for allowing us to express our views on this critically important topic.

Explore Mars, Inc. is a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. We believe that achieving this goal is important to our nation for many reasons, including maintaining America’s world leadership, for our nation’s economy, for advancing STEM education, and for our nation’s overall prosperity and security.

Sending humans to explore Mars is not a new goal for the United States space program. It has been a priority since the days of the Apollo Program, and it has been NASA’s official goal under multiple Administrations, as reflected in the NASA Authorization Acts of 2005, 2008, and  2010. Most recently, the U.S. House of Representatives, in Section 202 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2015 [H.R. 810 – (2015-2016)] stated that, “Human exploration deeper into the Solar System shall be a core mission of the Administration. It is the policy of the United States that the goal of the Administration’s exploration program shall be to successfully conduct a crewed mission to the surface of Mars to begin human exploration of that planet…”.

Yet, until recently, political and technological progress toward achieving this goal has remained elusive. However, thanks to sustained bi-partisan support by Congress, engineering and technology solutions to the challenges of traveling to Mars may soon be at hand. Moreover, both NASA and the private sector, working together, have been developing increasingly credible, affordable, and sustainable scenarios that lay out substantive plans for initial human missions to Mars in the early to mid-2030s.

Explore Mars, Inc. applauds Congress for taking a significant step forward at the end of 2015, when, reversing a recent trend of NASA funding shortfalls, Congress approved an increase of nearly $800 million in the overall NASA budget, over and above the Administration’s FY2016 budget request. Nevertheless, even with this increase in FY2016, NASA’s budget is still significantly below what is necessary to accomplish all that NASA has been tasked with by Congress and the Administration. We respectfully urge Congress to take further action to close this shortfall by increasing NASA’s FY2017 budget by $1 billion above the FY2016 enacted level, to a total of $20.3 billion.

There has been undeniable progress in the development of the capabilities necessary for long- duration human exploration beyond Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), thanks to work on the International Space Station (ISS). There has also been great progress in developing the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion, with hardware now actually being built and tested. However, current scenarios under study by industry that are aimed at getting humans to Mars by the 2030s, which include cost estimates, demonstrate a shortfall in several key technology areas.

These scenarios all are converging on the same essential technology capabilities, each of which is time-sensitive and critical for achieving the goal of human exploration of Mars:

Long-Duration Human Operations Beyond LEO, especially Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS): Keeping astronauts safe and active on the trip to Mars, on its surface, and on the return journey to Earth, is a major challenge. Enormous advances in our capabilities for safe operation in deep space have been made in recent years, thanks to the ISS. Necessary next-generation capabilities include ECLSS systems that are more power-efficient, robust, lower- mass, and serviceable, in addition to spacecraft power management systems, radiation protection, and capabilities for autonomous operation. Testing the habitation systems in the actual deep- space environment, such as in cis-lunar space, which is accessible by the SLS and Orion spacecraft, is necessary to demonstrate the systems for long-duration missions to Mars.

Additionally, we need to aggressively utilize our robotic missions to Mars to enable human missions to the Red Planet. Two such critical areas are Entry, Descent, Landing, and Ascent, and In-Situ Resource Utilization:

Mars atmospheric Entry, Descent, Landing, and Ascent (EDLA): EDLA may be the single greatest technical hurdle to overcome in order to successfully land and return humans from the surface of Mars. Development of these capabilities will take some time and in the mid-term enable high priority scientific exploration of the Red Planet that is not otherwise possible. Unfortunately, EDLA funding – for human missions and major science goals – has stalled in recent years, and more recently has seen significant budget cuts.

There is significant work that can be done at Earth to enable Martian EDLA, but ultimately we need to be flying progressively heavier spacecraft/landers at Mars to test and validate these EDLA systems to ensure that they will be safe for humans. These missions would not be standalone EDLA missions but rather would be included with other key science and “humans to Mars” enabling engineering objectives.

In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU): For sustained operations on the Martian surface, use of local resources will be essential for significantly reducing the amount of mass that must be carried to Mars and thus the overall cost of these missions. Water and oxygen are the most critical resources. Oxygen can be extracted anywhere on the planet from the rarified CO2 atmosphere, and a prototype extraction device, called the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), will be flown on the Mars 2020 Rover. Recent discoveries have shown that there are also significant quantities of water on Mars near the surface. Water is exciting for all the reasons that water is critical on Earth; it will also allow for self-sufficiency in terms of the local production of propellant for the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). Unfortunately, while we know that water exists on Mars, the orbital reconnaissance instruments flown to date were not designed to find water that is easily accessible for ISRU. A next-generation reconnaissance orbiter will be needed to precisely identify where these feed stocks are located. Access to this water will probably determine where the initial human base on Mars is located, and for this reason the First Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars, held in October 2015, strongly recommended that a next-generation reconnaissance orbiter be made an immediate priority. Workshop participants also saw a strong synergy in the ISRU and science objectives that such an orbiter would make possible. In time, it will be necessary to validate on the planet’s surface what was learned from orbital measurements about these water feed stocks and to verify production techniques, but orbital reconnaissance is the critical next step.

Coordination Within NASA and With the Private Sector, Academia, and our International Partners

Essential to successful human and scientific exploration of Mars will be expanded coordination among the three relevant mission directorates at NASA: human space flight, science, and technology. Moreover, new approaches for stimulating private/entrepreneurial activities must be encouraged, as the private sector, along with academia, both enthusiastic about and committed to the exploration of Mars, are two of the greatest strengths of this nation. We must also fully encourage and engage our international partners so that they can develop their contributions to a multi-national program of exploration. Indeed, these were among the findings and observations that were made by the recent Mars Affordability and Sustainability Workshops, three of which have been held to date (2013, 2014, and 2015), the reports of which can be found on the Explore Mars website at www.exploremars.org/affording-mars.

The Critical Next Ten Years

NASA needs a clear budget picture to enable timely decisions on and commitment to the necessary courses of action. In addition to a prioritized increase in the NASA budget, advances toward human missions to Mars will not be possible if some key decisions are delayed much longer. As indicated earlier in this letter, human missions to Mars in the 2030s will rely on some key capabilities being developed and demonstrated in the 2020s, which is fast approaching. Fortunately, we have a Mars program that is far more integrated than ever before, and which is the beneficiary of broad bi-partisan support as well as widespread support among the general public. But we need a long-duration habitat to carry humans to deep space, and then to Mars, and we need that habitat as soon, as safe, and as affordable as possible. We also need to develop increasingly capable EDLA systems. Furthermore, we also need a new class of robotic reconnaissance for Mars that, while advancing science, also ties directly to human exploration needs such as ISRU.

Conclusion

Scientific exploration of Mars continues to reveal an intriguing world, rich with mysteries yet to be revealed, as well as a potential site for long-duration human habitation. Such exploration, when committed to and properly funded, will contribute to improving the quality of life for our country. As NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has frequently observed, “We are closer to sending humans to Mars than at any time in the past”.

Explore Mars, Inc. believes, however, that we should no longer refer to Mars as the ‘ultimate destination’ or the ‘horizon goal’. In 2016 and beyond, such phrases just solidify the perception that Mars is a far-off goal that never seems to get any closer. With continued Congressional support, and in partnership with the private sector and the scientific communities, as well as the international community, human missions to Mars starting in the early to mid-2030s are now a goal that is achievable in the near-term; but such will require sufficient budgets and policy sustainability. Mars needs to be humanity’s next great destination, with intermediate stops and the establishment of infrastructure along the way, but all on a clear path outward and into the solar system.

Thank you, again, for allowing us the opportunity to provide this input to the Committee.   Explore Mars, Inc. stands ready to provide further input and recommendations on the importance of sending humans to Mars, and we look forward to working with the Committee and its staff on ways in which we can all help to bring us closer to that goal.

Sincerely,

Chris Carberry, CEO

Artemis Westenberg, President

Rick Zucker, Director of Political Outreach

The 2016 Humans To Mars Report

H2MR_16_Final_Print_v4i_Page_01-495x640Explore Mars, Inc. is pleased to present the 2016 Humans to Mars Report. As stated in our premiere issue in 2015, this annual publication provides a snapshot of current progress in mission architectures, science, policy, international engagement, human factors, and public perception regarding human missions to Mars, and highlights progress and challenges from year to year. By doing so, this report provides stakeholders and policy makers with a resource to help them make decisions based on the most current information rather than on outdated sources, speculation, and occasional misinformation.

The Humans to Mars Report is not advocating any particular approach for sending humans to Mars. To be clear, this report will not include speculation or rumor about future architecture, unless actually impacting public perception and policy decisions. Instead, we report on current official progress and viable approaches, as well as on relevant technologies and capabilities, that are in the public domain and thus are subject to critical review and analysis.

As highlighted in this report, there have been significant developments since the premiere issue was released. Mars has been in the news regularly and the United States has embraced Mars as the goal for human space flight more than ever before. For example, in October 2015 NASA began the process of assessing potential candidate human landing sites on Mars for the first time.

However, much additional progress is needed and greater urgency is required to achieve the goal of landing humans on Mars. The greatest threat to mission success is complacency and delay. More clarity is required about the intermediate steps that will be needed for human landings on Mars. This historic goal has become far more realistic than ever before. We believe that the Humans to Mars Report will help to enable a human presence on Mars beginning in the early 2030s.

Link to PDF Document

Meeting This Sunday!

All:

Last month Ken Murphy gave an excellent and exciting talk laying out the case for returning to the Moon and the uses of cislunar space. Ken’s talk was articulate and ThCATUOLG7compelling. While i am not ready to abandon going to Mars first (this is the Mars society, after all!) Ken did describe in detail the uses and gravitational advantages of cislunar space and Earth / Moon Lagrangian points.

It was a very different and invigorating talk, and i am glad a bunch of you made it out – and sorry that some had to miss it! Thanks again, Ken!

We have another meeting this Sunday, May 29! Same time and location (6:30pm, Spaghetti Warehouse, Plano, off of Rt 75 and 15th street)!

MoonDay2016SliderThis time we need to buckle down on our planning for Moon Day 2016, which is only two meetings away. This will be the 40th anniversary of the Viking 1 landing, so we need it to be special!

  • The rover field, including spare rover (tom)
  • Any other WiFi rovers (Mark and Kris were planning?)
  • The revised glove box (Dan)
  • The Mars panel display – highlighting Viking (Curtis)
  • The viking soil yard (Mark / Dan?)
  • The 3-D Mars viewer using google glasses and an iPhone (Mark)
  • Giveaway bling?
  • Pamphlets?
  • Lunch?
  • Anything i forgot?

See you Sunday!

Kurt

Meeting for March 2016

All:

Another month has passed. We are meeting this week, Sunday, March 27 at 6:30pm at Spaghetti Warehouse at 15th street and Rt 75 in Plano.

I didn’t realize it but this is Easter Sunday when the schedule was set, and i do apologize for putting this on a holiday.

But we have a special treat! Ken Murphy, National President of the Moon Society, and our MoonDay2016Sliderlong time colleague at North Texas NSS, has agreed to come and address our group on ‘Why The Moon [or cis-lunar space] Should Come First’.

Ken is a very articulate spokesman and tireless advocate of space, and the moving force behind ‘Moon Day’ at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, and a great ally to the Mars Society. It is good to hear other viewpoints, so let’s have as many as possible come out to hear Ken!

I220px-Scott_J._Kellyn the meantime, we need to do our planning for Moon Day: it will be here faster than you think!

There is so much else going on in Space: ESA’s launch to Mars; Astronaut Scott Kelly came back form the ISS after a year in space set specifically to test the human body for endurance for trips to Mars; another SpaceX launch and attempted 1st stage recovery; and so much more.

See you all Sunday!

Kurt

Meeting for January 2016

All:

I hope we all had a great Christmas break, and now it is a New Year!

And that means it is time to get back in the cycle of our monthly Mars Society meetings. We have a meeting this Sunday, Jan 31st, at the Spaghetti Warehouse, Rt 75 and 15th street, in Plano, at 6:30 pm.

Please note that this Sunday we have a guest speaker, Aylyffe Martin of Hilton Hotels, will be speaking about hotels in space! Aylyffe was going to talk to us at our last meeting in November, but unfortunately could not

BBC Hotel on the Moon

attend due to a sickness in the family. So we have rescheduled, and Aylyffe has graciously agreed to to come to our January meeting. I hope as many as can will be able to come out and hear our guest Aylyffe.

Also, as we move forward this year, I want to talk about some changes. We’ve already discussed having more outings as a group, and we had our first last year, going to see the movie ‘The Martian’. I also have some info on star gazing with the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas, and

SpaceX McGregor engine test bunker

Derek has graciously agreed to host us on a tour at SpaceX’s McGregor facilities at a time of mutual convenience.

In addition, i want to explore the possibility of bringing in some other guest speakers on different subjects to try and ‘spice things up’. We also have planning for the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair, and, further on, our Mars exhibit for Moon Day.

In national news, SpaceX has stuck and almost stuck a first stage landing. Three commercial contenders were chosen for cargo delivery to the Space Station. More space hardware then even the height of the Space Race is taking shape across the country. These are exciting times!

See you Sunday!

Kurt

A Look Back and a Look Forward

All:

Looking back, 2015 was an incredible year for Space and Mars. I think that one day people will look back at the current time in the 2010’s as exciting for Space as the 1960’s – but this time the development is deliberate and for the long haul. Heavy lift launchers (yes, plural) are being developed, manned spacecraft (also plural) are nearing flight, re-usable boosters (also plural) were launched and recovered, and discoveries were made across the solar system from Mars to Pluto.

SpaceX went from a loss to an incredible return to flight, all within a span of 6 months, ending with a historic return to base of a perfectly re-usable first stage. I think this is the space travel equivalent of the computer chip and the steamship in terms of cost reduction – an innovation that will change the economics of space flight from the realm of government programs to ordinary commerce.

SpaceX First Stage Lander

I’ve been in the aerospace business for decades and seen many ideas of recoverable boosters come and go, and listened to how SpaceX’s ideas were “clever PowerPoint presentations that couldn’t be done” – but there it is sitting quietly on back on the pad in Florida! Unlike previous attempts at re-usability, such as the Space Shuttle, that required fleets of ships and armies of technicians to virtually rebuild the craft – and the engines – after each flight, the Falcon 9 booster was reportedly ready to fuel up and go again. This could get interesting.

NASA footage of Pluto

NASA demonstrated what they do better than anyone – jaw dropping execution of deep space exploration – with flybys of both Ceres and Pluto – both dethroned planets. (Ceres used to be the ninth planet in old 19th century school books before Pluto was discovered). Pluto was amazingly complex for a “frozen world”, and the data gathered during the brief New Horizons flyby will take months to download.

Even the department of energy got into the space act, with the first trial runs of Pu238 production in 30 years, in order to help NASA prepare for future deep space missions, including the 2020 Mars Rover.

And then in an unexpected turn, Congress even gave NASA $1.3 billion more than requested, to a total of $19.3 billion.

Garni Crater

Closer to our hearts, liquid water was confirmed below the surface of Mars – close enough to the surface be observed from space. Given that no natural body of water on Earth is devoid of life, this raises some exciting possibilities. As we learn more about how widespread easily accessible water is on Mars, the more NASA is moving to in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) using groundwater directly rather than the use of hydrogen brought from Earth combined with the Martian atmosphere, the process Bob Zubrin first brought up in The Case for Mars – a change that uses the recent discovery of water on Mars to simplify mission architecture and vehicle size.

Lastly, the Mars Curse was broken! At last, a big budget, top notch, well done, popular movie about Mars exploration, “The Martian“, came to theaters to positive reviews and box office. And it even was realistic – no aliens, zombies, or chattering monkeys (Robinson Crusoe on Mars anyone?).

There were some disappointments – the delay of InSight due to a leak in its drill cover from the planned 2016 launch is a big one.

If there were no failures, we wouldn’t be trying hard enough.

Next Year promises to keep the pace moving forward: Juno will orbit Jupiter – the first deep space probe without nuclear power, the Falcon 9 Heavy is expected to make it to flight, and ExoMars will (hopefully) launch to Mars. We’ll see if SpaceX will re-fly a returned booster, and we will be very close to the first manned launch form US soil in a long time – SpaceX’s dragon is expected to fly manned in early 2017.

We’re seeing a growing consensus that manned Mars missions are not only the logical ultimate destination of America’s space program, but a realistic near term one, and one we need to start preparing for… now! We could have at least four orbit capable US made manned space vehicles (Orion, Dragon, Dream Chaser, and the CTS-100) coming online, a continuous manned presence on the ISS, two heavy lift launchers (SLS and Falcon 9 Heavy) in development, several man-rated US designed rocket engines in production or development (as opposed to zero for the last few decades), instrumentation for the Mars 2020 lander – which will be part of the Mars Sample Return, as well as a Europa orbiter in development. Curiosity, Opportunity , MRO, and all of its friends are still on station and in operation. What will the find in 2016?

It is a good time for space…..

Closer to home, the National Mars Society had a great convention in DC, and seems to have settled on the location (the National Catholic University) as we will have it there next year – I think the first time we will ‘double up’ on locations. The date will be later in the year in order to better suit students (and bring cooler weather!). It was a great convention, with top-line speakers and debates ranging from Mars One to Viking data results. It was good to see April and the crowd from McClellan again!

Our Moon (Mars) Day exhibit was another popular hit with another record attendance – and we expect 2016 to be even more so. Looking forward to working all the ideas to make it even better.

Photos from the University Rover Challenge

The University Rover Challenge had another record setting year, with 40 teams registering and over 20 showing up. This year we have over 60! URC is expanding across the globe, and for the first time we will split the competition into two classes to handle the crowd. We need more volunteers not only to go to Hanksville but to help during the year (hint hint!).

The Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair was fantastic, as it always is, and we had a first group outing to see the Martian together. Overall, it was an active and productive year!

Besides all the ideas for group outings, we may bring in more ‘outside’ speakers to our meetings – don’t miss this January’s meeting (Jan 31) for a discussion on ‘Hilton Hotels in Space’.

May this year be even better than the last!

Kurt

Webmaster’s note: I also updated the theme of the website and improved the commenting system with Disqus. – Greg