Our next meeting is October 30th, this Sunday!
Same time and location as always: Spaghetti Warehouse, Plano, 15th Street and Rt 75, 6:30 PM!
I’ll have a rundown of the National Convention, our t-shirt sales, and all the goings on with national.
We’ll also have a report on our Oct 29th participation with the Frontiers of Flight museum with our Mars Yard.
In the meantime, we’ve had a lot of Space news:
- SpaceX announced their Mars settlement plans, and had a successful firing of their very advanced raptor methane engine down at McGregor.
- The President called for a human presence on Mars as the official goal of NASA, and momentum in Washington continues to build.
- Unfortunately, the Schiaparelli Mars Lander appears to have crashed, with a probably malfunction in the final few seconds of landing after traveling over a hundred million miles. Mars is hard, and we hope ESA better fortunes in the future.
See you Sunday!
In a CNN op-ed published October 11, 2016 President Obama announced a goal to send humans to Mars by the 2030s.
We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time. Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we’re already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station.
The next step is to reach beyond the bounds of Earth’s orbit. I’m excited to announce that we are working with our commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space. These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars.
Moreover, the President announced the intention to work with commercial partners in order to develop key components. The Dallas Mars Society is excited and proud to hear the President actively encouraging the goals most important to our organization.
Below is some additional information on the announcement and Mars.
* The Dallas Mars Society does not endorse any political candidate or party.
For those who missed the SpaceX announcements by Elon Musk, founder and CEO, he announces his vision for SpaceX’s role in making humanity a multi-planetary species.
Recently, the adult child of one of our members has made it to the latest round for the next NASA Astronaut selection! This is an intensely rigorous process, with over 99% of the applicants already having been weeded out. Now the process has moved to interviews and tests at JSC. We are all excited and proud of our extended family member making it this far.
This will be an especially exciting astronaut class as it appears that they may be from whom the first astronauts may be chosen who will leave near Earth orbit since 1972 – indeed, they may go farther into space than anyone has gone before. We should hear the final results early next year.
Till then fingers are crossed! Good Luck!
P.S. The member wants to keep the identity quiet for now – while an incredible accomplishment to make it this far, they prefer to be anonymous till it is known for sure one way or the other.
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
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!).
Here is a picture of Ron from our group with General Duke.
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.
PRESS CONTACT: Chris Carberry
CEO, Explore Mars Inc.
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%.
- 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)
“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
PRESS CONTACT: Chris Carberry
CEO, Explore Mars Inc.
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.
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.
Chris Carberry, CEO
Artemis Westenberg, President
Rick Zucker, Director of Political Outreach