SLC4 The Comeback Kid (Issue #35)

Guest blog by Dale Hammond

Dale Hammond 1This following describes how a California launch facility and a pair of accidents there spoke less about failure and more about the resilience and perseverance of human efforts in orbital space and beyond. Accidental failure occurred not once but twice in the same place within a span of just eight months. But rather than pointing to defeat, the recovery of that facility and the people who worked there led to new and innovative solutions: booster reusability by SLC 4’s current occupant SpaceX and subsequent cost reduction in delivery of payloads to orbit, which is considered paramount to the colonization of Mars. It may also lead in some distant future to the SLC being known in planetary legend and lore as a place that would not go away, that was once and will always be “The Comeback Kid.”  

Space Launch Complex 4, or SLC 4, Vandenberg Air Force Base, began its career as a launch facility for Atlas and Titan rockets. In 1963 two platforms were constructed within the complex: PALC2-3 and PALC2-4. Later, those became what they are known today: SLC 4e and SLC 4w. That whole chapter lasted for 42 years, and then SLC 4 was deactivated. In 2011 it was reactivated, to be leased and refurbished/rebuilt by SLC 4’s next chapter, SpaceX.

Dale Hammond 2Overall, the PALC/SLC years were good and confidence was high. There were 161 launches at the complex, including the Titan family and the Atlas family of launch boosters. And if this graph from spacelaunchreport.com showing worldwide launches per year is any indication, the past performance of the PALC/SLC tracked, if not improved on, that launch history. Hence, one might assume, like the worldwide success rate, the overall success rate at SLC 4 through 2005 sat at least around 95%.

However, space presents a well-known slim margin of error. As Gary Payton, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs said, “Launch reliability is my top priority. Our constellations for any of our missions cannot tolerate a launch failure.” Further, boosters are not a dime a dozen. Richard M. Rocket, co-founder and CEO of New Space Global, speaking in the wake of a 2015 launch failure said, “It’s not like you can just jump to another launch vehicle.” Each booster is one of a kind, designed for a single purpose and a specific payload. In such a world, failure is not an option: when failure comes, it’s painful.

Dale Hammond 3But failure, it should be said, is a necessary stepping stone to achieving dreams, whether they are orbital space, lunar exploration, or Mars exploration and colonization. Correspondingly, if there are any years in the American Space program that best embody that characterization, 1985-1986 could be called “model stepping stones.” The most tragic and most publicized incident was the untimely demise of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. It caused a suspension of the shuttle program for 32 months and formation of the Rogers Commission, appointed by President Ronald Reagan and assigned the task of discovering what exactly went wrong.

As for Vandenberg Air Force Base in the wake of the Challenger accident, it was dealt an indirect but personal blow as the Air Force elected to cancel use of Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC 6) for classified Shuttle military launches. Less known of that period are the ’85 and ’86 launch accidents at SLC 6’s Vandenberg neighbor, SLC 4.

Dale Hammond 4By the middle of 1985 at SLC 4, no Titan had failed in 18 years. Then August 18, 1985, came along. At SLC 4e a Titan 34D-7 was poised on the launch pad carrying a KH-11 photo-reconnaissance satellite. The mighty Titan lifted off and had a good flight – but not for long. In rapid succession, an unplanned complete engine shutdown, a computer glitch and a premature stage separation led to the Titan tumbling disastrously toward land. At T+272 seconds the destruct command was given, and not long afterward, the Titan sank to its permanent residence, a Pacific grave. Its team, that group of dedicated scientists, engineers and technicians who gave life to the Titan, sought solace in what little was left.

But moving forward when all seems lost was in the nature of the SLC 4 crew. They went back to work and found what they believed to be the cause of failure. Corrections were made, and a little under eight months later SLC 4 was ready for another Titan launch.

It was clear on the morning of April 18, 1986: a good day for a launch. This time a Titan 34D-9 was ready to send up a KH-9 photo-reconnaissance satellite.

10:45AM. The Titan headed aloft. Then just above the SLC, the craft erupted into a ball of flame. Debris and toxic propellant showered down on both SLC 4e and SLC 4w. Fortunately, there were no lives lost. But the launch facility was in ruins.

As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The credit belongs to the man [or woman] who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself [or herself] in a worthy cause.”

So strive they did. Just 14 months later, in October 1987, SLC 4e reopened. It went on to host the successful launch of two more Titan 34D’s, as well as many other launches.

SLC 4e’s career is far from over. SpaceX is its new, famous occupant, and if SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk’s goal of Mars colonization becomes reality, SLC 4e, “The Comeback Kid,” and the people there who make it all happen will be on the job time and again, carrying on the tradition of resilience and perseverance for humanity’s multi-planet future.

Dale Hammond is a space enthusiast, working at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Images:

#1 Titan 34 d explosian, slc 4e, 4/18/86;  airspacemag.com

#2 Titan 34d at slc 4e ;  afspacemuseum.org

#3 SLC  4 in the Titan days:  spaceflightnow.com

#4 SLC 4 today;  wikimedia

#5 SLC 4e, Falcon Heavy, artists rendition;  spaceflightnow.com

 

It’s Never too Late to Fulfill Your Childhood Dreams (Issue #34)

Guest Blog by Bob Bruner

Bob Bruner is an amateur scientist that has attended all the Case for Mars conferences given by the Mars Underground in the 1980’s and 1990’s and joined the Mars Society at its founding.  This story is a case of an amateur scientist actually having an impact on NASA decisions for its next big mission to Mars, the Mars2020 rover, by suggesting a specific mineral to cache and return to Earth in the 2020’s.

blog 234 deiviant artThe new year is a time many of us look back on what has been accomplished and look forward to the promises the future holds.  I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and in 1948, when I turned 10, my father gave me a 3-inch diameter reflecting telescope with a cardboard tube with which to observe the stars and planets.  My uncle gave me a box of rocks and minerals of many shapes and colors.  I spent many a summer evening looking through the telescope, mainly at planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars.  I also collected more rocks and minerals to go with my starter collection.  Little did I know how important collecting rocks and minerals would be in the future.

When I went to college, I wanted to be an astronomer, but I didn’t understand calculus, so I switched my major to business, and spent my entire working life in the business world.  I retired in 2001, but I had continued my interest in astronomy, volunteered at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the Space Sciences Department, and joined the Mars Society.

blog 22 MarsAsteroidImpactWhen Dr. Stephen Benner presented his idea that life must have started on Mars and then been brought to Earth on meteorites,  I really liked his way of “thinking outside the box”.  He said that in order to create RNA, the precursor of DNA, you had to have stabilizing minerals such as boron and molybdenum, which were probably not available on early Earth.  The Mars Society Education Department had a blog on this in September, 2013.  I helped with the blog, and as a result, I was able to get into my first scientific meeting with a poster because Dr. Benner remembered me.  The meeting was the Gordon Origin of Life Conference of 2014 in Galveston, Texas.  My poster was entitled “Meteorites and Minerals associated with the Origin of Life”.  I read a lot about the origin of life and picked the meteorites and minerals I thought would be appropriate.  No publication is allowed after a Gordon conference. It is considered a “starter conference” for new grads, post-docs, etc.

In 2014, I re-packaged the exhibit, expanded it, and applied to the 8th International Mars Conference (only held every few years by NASA).  By a lucky coincidence, this conference specifically asked for a contribution from the Origin of Life community, so I hit it just right.  My poster was on display in the courtyard of Caltech, and I attended along with 650 scientists from all over the world, including those who had been my inspiration for many years. I made it into the ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) and was published on the conference website.  I made many friends in the Mars scientific community.

blog 34 noaaOne of the theories of the Origin of Life is that life started near hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean in environments known as “Lost City” after that discovery in the Atlantic Ocean.  I met a scientist, Dr. Mike Russell of JPL, at the Gordon conference after his lecture, and felt his ideas had a lot of merit. I felt this same process could have happened on Mars. So when NASA held the 1st landing site meeting for the Mars2020 rover, I sent in the idea in an email to the chairman of the meeting. It  was too late, but I could submit it for  the next meeting. This summer the 2nd Landing Site meeting for the Mars2020 rover was held in Pasadena, California just a few miles from Caltech.  Not only was my idea accepted, but I was allowed 10 minutes on the agenda.  I collected all the minerals involved with the process at Lost City called “serpentinization”, and interviewed all the top scientists who had developed this theory over the last 15 years.  Again I got published on the conference website.  The idea is to cache for return to Earth samples of serpentine, a mineral created by serpentinization to examine it for signs of life.

Bob Bruner blog 34So instead of looking through a telescope to spot Martians, like I was trying to do in 1948, I used my rock-collecting skills to assemble exhibits acceptable to NASA in the 21st Century.  I never dreamed this would happen.  But if one keeps on trying, anything is possible.

Post written by Bob Bruner

 

[Images: Deviant Art, The Economist, NOAA, Bob Bruner, ]

What Does The Mars Society Do? (Issue #33)

By: Nicole Willett

blog 33 aThe latest episode of Neil DeGrasse-Tyson’s Star Talk, featuring, Bill Nye, President of The Planetary Society, Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, and Astrophysicist, Dr. Michael Shara, was chock full of great information and insight.  While watching, my heart ached for our civilization to understand the importance of a manned mission to Mars.  Charles Bolden stated NASA’s plan is to be on Mars around 2030 with the current budget of half of one percent of the US budget, we believe with more resources and cooperation from various countries and private organizations we could be on Mars sooner and possibly cheaper.  A major reason for needing a human touch on Mars is for exactly what Bill Nye stated which is that a human scientist could do in one minute the job that a robot does in a week, it’s about a ratio of 1:10,000.  The problem was stated clearly by Dr. Michael Shara, “Frankly, we are not as brave as we should be.” These statements are extraordinarily important to be shared with the public.  We are not as brave or as curious as we should be. Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of The Mars Society and one of the bravest men I have ever known, says we could be on Mars in ten years with the proper funding.

Shopping bags, MonbiotAren’t you curious? Is curiosity lost to our civilization for the most part?  Some days I think it is.  I often get asked this question, “What does The Mars Society do?”  This question sometimes frustratingly comes from a place of condescension and rarely a place of curiosity.  I have to remind myself that the work we are doing here is to take humans to another planet, an event that would change human history and that most people unfortunately have no concept of why it is so important. The short answer is:  We are an advocacy group to promote the human exploration and settlement of Mars.  Our goal is to educate the public through our Education Department, bring like-minded people together at chapter meetings and our annual conventions, and promote a human mission to Mars via projects and competitions.  Sounds simple right?  Well, not really. You see, people really like the societal pleasures of who is who, who is wearing who, what team are you for, what kind of car do you drive, what do you do for a living???? On and on this goes.  Meanwhile, billions of people are left uninformed of what is really important: Curiosity, knowledge, and exploration.  Instilling curiosity, providing access to true knowledge of scientific facts, and the goal of Mars exploration by humans, is an important part of what we are trying to accomplish.

blog 33 koolfmIt is frustrating for sure, as a teacher of young people, to see that most are much more interested in the latest phone app than the intellectual curiosity for really learning anything.  The way the educational system is set up is flawed and is partially responsible for the noninterest to learn.  People do not enjoy memorizing things in order to take a test.  People want to LEARN.  Only learning can create critical thinking and curiosity, maybe this is the source of the apathy in America.  I encounter some very curious minds, but sadly too few.  Learning takes place with hands on experience and discussions, not workbooks and vocabulary lessons.  We need to have a strong work force of critical thinkers, not robotic followers.   The Apollo 13 Mission was not saved by people that had been able to get the highest SAT score blog 33 nasabecause they memorized a bunch of facts, those brave scientists were able to quickly and critically think and creatively solve a problem and save the lives of three brave men.  The Mars Society is an organization that is involved in many projects that make an environment conducive to learning by hands-on experience and discussions, which lends itself to creativity and critical thinking.  Going to the Moon took about 400,000 people, going to Mars will take many more.  We need strong minded, willful, brave problem solvers to get to Mars.

So, what does The Mars Society do to move this endeavor forward?  Well, with a lot of patience and a group of very dedicated and passionate volunteers.  The Mars Society was founded by Dr. Robert Zubrin in 1998, stemming from the Mars Underground which was started by Dr. Carol Stoker, NASA, Dr. Chris McKay, NASA, and Dr. Penelope Boston.  The Mars Society is involved in many projects, including but not limited to:  holding annual conventions, an Education Department for public outreach, STEM Education Events, Red Planet Pen (an educational blog), Red Planet Radio (podcast), a Speakers Bureau, having two analogue stations named Mars Desert Research Station and Mars Arctic Research Station, the University Rover Challenge and the Youth Rover Challenge.

blog 33 cuaThe Mars Society will convene the 18th Annual International Mars Society Convention on the campus of the Catholic University of America from August 13-16, 2015.  The annual four-day event brings together key experts, scientists, journalists and policymakers to discuss the latest news on Mars exploration and efforts to promote a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming years. We have many notable speakers, including Dr. Robert Zubrin, President and Founder of the Mars Society, Apollo astronaut Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt will give a plenary address, Dr. Deborah Bass, Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, will discuss the planned exploration mission, Dr. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, will give a plenary talk about his long-term vision for solar system exploration and the role communications will play in this endeavor, Sam Scimemi, Director for International Space Station (ISS) at NASA Headquarters within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Dr. Pamela G. Conrad, an astrobiologist and mineralogist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Deputy Principal Investigator for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, will talk about the potential habitability of the planet Mars, and many, many more!
blog 33 mdrsThe Mars Society has two analog research stations.  One is the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) and the other is the Mars Arctic Research Station.  Analog Research Stations are laboratories for learning how to live and work on another planet. Each is a prototype of a habitat that will land humans on Mars and serve as their main base for months of exploration in the harsh Martian environment. Such a habitat represents a key element in current human Mars mission planning. Each Station’s centerpiece is a cylindrical habitat, “The Hab,” an 8-meter diameter, two-deck structure mounted on landing struts. Peripheral external structures, some inflatable, may be appended to the hab as well.  College students gain credit by living and working at the MDRS hab for two weeks at a time.

The Mars Society Education Department maintains an educational forum website with resources free to all students, teachers and Mars enthusiasts.  Opportunities for speakers, online or in person, are available to enhance students’ educational experience around the world.  The Speakers Bureau of experienced Mars advocates can be contacted to speak and do a presentation and will either come to you or organize an online event for your group or class.  The website also has an archive of blogs with a vast amount of information about Mars and the spacecraft that have visited the Red Planet.  To enhance all educational materials, The Mars Society has a YouTube Channel that has hundreds of videos of talks from previous conventions.  All of these resources are meant to stimulate minds and allow anyone to learn as much as they can about Mars and what a human mission to Mars entails.

blog 33 urcChuck McMurray, the Mars Society’s Deputy Education Director, launched the Youth Rover Challenge in 2013 which is geared toward middle and high school students.  The rover program consists of two levels of competition to get kids started earlier and also prepare them for participation in the University Rover Challenge held annually at MDRS in Utah.  Grade levels 5 through 12 will be invited to compete in the Youth Rover Challenge.  The University Rover Challenge (URC) was started in 2007 and run by URC director, Kevin Sloan.  It is the world’s premier robotics competition for college students.  Held annually in the desert of southern Utah in the United States, URC challenges student teams to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers that will one day work alongside astronauts exploring the Red Planet.

So, what does The Mars Society do?  All of these things and so much more.  We want the world to know the importance of a human mission to Mars.  The reasons are many, but here are a few that can be found in our Founding Declaration:

We must go for the knowledge of Mars.

We must go for the knowledge of Earth. 

We must go for the challenge. 

We must go for the youth. 

We must go for the opportunity. 

We must go for our humanity. 

We must go for the future.

 

Humans to Mars as a bridge to the stars…………..

[Image credits: NASA, Guardian, koolfm, NASA, CUA, TMS, TMS]

The Curious Case for Methane on Mars, methane and active organics discovered on Mars (Issue #32)

 

By:  Nicole Willett

methane molecule 2 drsusanrubinOn December 16, 2014 at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, a panel of scientists working on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity Rover data announced what we have all been waiting decades to hear.  John Grotzinger stated unequivocally, “…there is methane occasionally present in the atmosphere of Mars and there are organics preserved in (…) rocks on Mars.”

Why is this important?  All life on Earth that we have discovered so far is carbon based, aka organic.  Carbon is found in the DNA of all life forms on Earth.  Carbon can bind with many other elements to form thousands of molecules that are involved in biological processes.  Needless to say, finding organics and methane is a game changer for all of science, from astronomy to zoology.  Organics in general refer to molecules that are often found as components of life.  We know from studying life forms on Earth that methane is a common organic molecule that is a waste product of bacteria and macro organisms.  In fact approximately 90% of Earth’s methane has a biological origin.  However, about 10% of methane on Earth is a result of geological activity.  According to author Jeffrey Bennett from the University of Colorado, Boulder, “The amount of methane in the atmosphere appears to vary regionally across Mars, and also seems to vary with the Martian seasons.  This has led some scientists to favor a biological origin (…)if the source is volcanic (…) the amount of (…)heat necessary for methane release [could] be sufficient to maintain pockets of liquid water underground.”  Pockets of liquid water would be conducive to life.

blog 32 eath marsThe Earth and Mars have many similarities including a 24 hour and 24 hour 37 minute day respectively, a similar axial tilt causing seasons to occur, a rocky surface with many of the same types of rocks and minerals (which may be used as a source of energy), volcanic activity and hydrothermal vents past and/or present, water that is/was fresh, salty, acidic, and/or basic.  Now and perhaps most important of all, organic matter and methane.  In addition to the aforementioned facts, the fleet of rovers and orbiters that have arrived at Mars have proven an environment conducive to microorganisms existed and may currently exist on the Red Planet.   We know this thanks to the many spacecraft that have visited Mars and sent back ample amounts of data.

blog 32 natgeo3The Viking missions were sent to Mars in the mid 1970’s.  They carried a variety of scientific instruments.  Some of them sampled the atmosphere and some examined the regolith.  The results of these experiments have been studied repeatedly since they were performed.  The Labeled Release Experiment, designed by Dr. Gil Levin, made a controversial and still contested discovery of life on Mars.  Viking also discovered methane at 10.5 parts per billion (ppb) in 1976.  It seems both of these discoveries were discounted over the past four decades.

While utilizing the NASA Infrared Telescope in Hawaii, Michael Mumma, of NASA Goddard, observed methane using ground based instrumentation in 2003.  When he followed up the observations in 2006, the methane had vanished.  Some scientists have stated that is indicative of a seasonal plume.  According to NASA’s astrobiology website Mumma and his team observed 20-60 ppb of methane near the poles and up to 250 ppb near the equator.  It is interesting to note that the levels of methane are significantly higher near the equator where the temperature is higher and possibly more conducive to life.

Concentrations_of_methane_on_Mars esaA decade ago the European Space Agency (ESA) announced they had discovered plumes of seasonal methane on Mars.  In March of 2004, ESA announced that the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer on Mars Express detected about 10 ppb of methane in the Martian atmosphere.  A spectrometer is a device that “looks” at a sample of something, in this case atmospheric gases, and takes reading(s) to determine what molecules make up the sample being observed.  A computer generated graph of some type is then read by scientists to analyze the spectral data.

Although ESA and NASA themselves had previously detected methane on Mars, it was important to for NASA to continue the search, using the MSL Curiosity, on the ground in order to again verify the results.  The public may get frustrated with the continuous “discoveries” of methane, but science is always retesting results to essentially try to “disprove” itself in order to make sure the facts are real.  The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in August of 2012.  It seemed that almost as soon as the Curiosity Rover started exploring her new home on Mars she discovered a dry riverbed where fresh water once flowed in Gale crater.  When she drilled into the rock dubbed “John Klein” scientists realized that the rock contained what biologists call CHNOPS. That acronym stands for Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur. Those are the six elements needed for all life on Earth to exist.  Another discovery were molecules that included carbon which scientists called “simple organics”.  The most recent and most important discovery includes more complex organic molecules than previously discovered, such as methane and chlorobenzene.  We know Mars is enriched with all of the same chemicals to make life that the Earth has.  This latest and greatest discovery puts to rest the long debate about whether Mars has organics.  Some scientists and laymen have been vehemently denying that it is possible.  For the community of “believers” in Martian organics, we feel Methane SAM graph nasa 2vindicated.

The amount of methane reported over the past forty years on the Red Planet ranges from 5-250 ppb from a variety of sources, NASA, ESA, orbiters, rovers, and ground based Earth telescopes.  Many peer reviewed scientific journal articles have been published regarding Martian methane and the possible explanations for its existence.  Some of the potential sources of methane include the presence of life, volcanoes, hydrothermal vents, and several other geological processes.  Methane breaks up and only has a lifespan of several decades to 300 years, which is a short time on a planetary scale. It then breaks down into water and carbon dioxide.  That being said, since methane is present on Mars, it must be getting replenished biologically or geologically currently.

Over the last few decades scientists have discovered amino acids in comets and meteorites, which we know slam into planets, so it is common sense to see that whether Mars originally had organics or not that organics would have landed there sometime in the last 4.5 billion years.  In 2012 it was announced that even Mercury has organics on its surface.  The moon Enceladus, orbiting Saturn, has organics spewing out of the ice covered surface from the salty ocean below.  It seems that everywhere we look we find organics.  We must ask ourselves, how easy is it to form organics and life?  Is life everywhere?

Mars Society Logo (High quality)“[A] striking aspect of the Curiosity discovery is that the concentration of methane detected varies sharply over time. That can only be the case if the source of the methane is locally concentrated, as a globally spread source could not cause such sharp variations. Thus, there may be a patch of ground relatively close to Curiosity which is the source of the emissions, and, therefore, a prime target to drill in an attempt to find subsurface life. Similar biologically suspect spots may well exist elsewhere. We need to locate such spots, and then send human explorers to drill and find out what lies beneath,” states Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of the Mars Society.

~Humans to Mars as a bridge to the stars

[Images: drsusanrubin.com, NASA, NatGeo, ESA, NASA, TMS]

Note: The article snip above is from the Jan 1977 National Geographic magazine.  Below are the next few paragraphs.

blog 32 natgeo4blog 32 NatGeo1blog 32 Natgeo2

The Importance of Scientific Literacy to a Human Mission to Mars (Issue #31)

By: Nicole Willett

Mars Society Logo (High quality)I could start this article off with a plethora of statistics and facts about how poorly we are doing in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in the US.  But we all know how poorly our performance has been for several decades.  The fault lies with everyone, not one group of people (ex: teachers or parents) or one political party. We must all bear the responsibility for the downfall of the scientific literacy in our country.  We have all been let down and we are letting our children down.  They have been promised a bright future full of endless possibilities, such as space exploration, humans to Mars, and to the stars.

Insp mars shipOur culture values possessions over knowledge.  Where has our passion for exploration gone?  When did we become satisfied with things instead of educating our children and ourselves to become a better civilization?  We are quickly becoming IDIOCRACY instead of INTERSTELLAR.  We have the tools for exceptional accomplishments.  The ability and the knowledge are available.  What is wrong with our culture?  We are eating ourselves from the inside out.  We are picking political sides as if they were our favorite NFL team.  We side with them for their jersey color, not what they really stand for or accomplish.  We must stop, think, and seriously ponder about what we are doing to our world.  We must disidentify with our “team” and decide what the best course for humanity is.   The course we are on has a dismal ending.

Money and possessions are a façade.  Civilization is a reality.  We are choosing the outcome of our reality by teaching our children to value materialism.  Few treasure truly tangible things such as education, inspiration, and exploration.  It is imperative that our culture shift gears.  We are destroying our planet, and with climate deniers at the helm of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which will put them in charge of climate policy, we are in a bleak state.  We may not be meant to stay on Earth, but we are meant to care for her.

blog 20 MWG and sun teachastronomy comI am grateful for those of us who have made it our life’s mission to educate and inspire others to explore.  Unfortunately we are too few.  When I read the National Geographic article in 1988 titled, Mission to Mars, it changed my life in an instant.  We were supposed to have humans on Mars by 1996.  It is now 18 years later and we have made little progress.  Thanks to incredibly imaginative and entrepreneurial people like Elon Musk, CEO-SpaceX, Dennis Tito, Founder-Inspiration Mars, and Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder-Mars One, we have a chance to send humans to Mars.  Please help inspire young people to get back to who we truly are as humans, explorers not consumers.

I long for my children, and yours, to live in a world where the possibilities are endless, where each child has a true chance to grow up and obtain a STEM degree and know that they will truly make a difference in the world and on other worlds in our solar system and others.  We must take humanity to Mars as a bridge to the stars.

 

[Images: The Mars Society, Inspiration Mars, NatGeo]