Panel Outlines Inspiration Mars Mission
One of the most intriguing panel discussions at the 29th National Space Symposium was conducted by members of the Inspiration Mars Foundation, discussing plans for a manned Mars mission in 2018. Comments included responses to questions from the audience. Key issues addressed included building a robust life support system for the mission and creating a feasible launch and landing architecture.
The panel was moderated by Jeff Carr, senior vice president - aerospace, Griffin Communications Group, and featured:
- Jonathan B. Clark, M.D., chief medical officer, Inspiration Mars Foundation
- Taber MacCallum, chief technology officer, Inspiration Mars Foundation
- Jane Poynter, president, Paragon Space Development Corporation
- Dennis A. Tito, chairman, Inspiration Mars Foundation
"The industry response has also been phenomenal," he said. "I really think this mission will show that NASA and academia we can work together to accomplish this. The point is to show that we can do missions to Mars, and get them there and back in the simplest, fastest fashion possible, and that paves the way for future missions."
MacCallum said, "The crew represents humanity. When we look at how America ranks in STEM education, it's really unacceptable. It's our duty to make this a mission for America, but it certainly represents all of humanity."
Clark agreed, "Yes. You have to start somewhere. The primary focus is to be an inspiration to the kids. If you have children you know how important it is to have that aha movement that hooks them forever into this mission."
Poynter said, "Astronauts talk about the extraordinary experience of seeing space. ... They say the best part was seeing this planet we all live on... I certainly believe Inspiration Mars brings that entire idea of unity, this single planet we all live on. It's a mission for humanity, but this really is also a spectacular mission for America."
According to Tito, there were four billion images on social media after the Inspiration Mars press conference earlier this year.
"We expect to receive additional funds from media rights, and my personal commitment to fund the mission through 2014," said Tito. "My philosophy is keep it sweet and simple."