Geo016 - Exploration of Mars

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Geo016 / Exploration of Mars / (M) 3:00-5:20 / Lincoln Field 105 / Prof. James Head

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James Kytta (04/21/04)

Our talk with Apollo astronaut Dave Scott brought a lot of exciting and important view to the table that should be considered as we continue our discussions into the manned Mars mission and the president's space initiative. A lot of the views presented by Mr. Scott were extremely valuable in their frank and non-polished form, unlike past discussions we've had. It is an entirely different perspective that one gets when talking to someone who worked on an exploration project versus someone who did exploring. These views must be reconciled into a personal understanding of what actually happened if one is to be well rounded in planning or partaking in future explorative missions.

A point brought up by Mr. Scott that we have not (to my recollection) previously discussed in class is the necessity of a specialized spacecraft. This in itself, while entirely possible, presents a great obstacle in time, money, and technology that it seems unlikely the president's initiative will support. Designing a new spacecraft is something that will take years to do, and considering where things stand now, it doesn't seem logical to believe that the resources necessary will be committed over the long term. A ship that would consist of an orbiter and a lander, that would hold the support human life for the designated amount of time, and that would use the earth or moon as a slingshot type driving force is a dream not likely to be realized anytime soon. The Columbia disaster, however, brought attention to design of the spaceship, and may rally public support for new design. This then, may not be as large of a problem as it first seems.

Also, Mr. Scott seemed to have a very “down to earth” perspective on a human mission to Mars and without romanticizing it too much, told things as they are. In order to support what he projected as a 30 year program and 32 month mission, Mr. Scott emphasized the necessity of reasons to go, a well defined program, a sufficient resource base, and an extremely qualified crew. I believe these objectives are right on base, but the time required for full realization seems to be too much of a put off for my belief in possible success. Without great reason behind the expenditure, I don't see the chance for any of the rest of the program to happen.


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