On This Episode
NASA Deputy Administrator and Former Astronaut
Chief Engineer for NASA's Mars Exploration Program
Artist, Poet, Inspiration 4 Astronaut and Mission Pilot
Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society
Additional guests include:
- Karina Drees, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
- Lori Glaze, Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate
- Sheela Logan, Orion Program Executive and Artemis Integration Lead for NASA
- Melodie Yashar, Director of Building Design and Performance at ICON
Join host Mat Kaplan in Washington D.C. for conversations with outstanding presenters at the first in-person Humans to Mars Summit in three years. You’ll hear from Inspiration 4 astronaut Sian Proctor, chief engineer for NASA’s robotic exploration program “Hoppy” Price, and the designer of award-winning Martian homes. NASA deputy administrator and former space shuttle commander Pam Melroy delivered a brilliant keynote. Then Bruce Betts tells us about the new STEP Grant opportunity from The Planetary Society.
- Explore Mars 2022 Humans to Mars Summit videos and other content
- Sian Proctor
- Melodie Yashar
- Commercial Spaceflight Federation
- Hoppy Price’s “Concept for 2033 Crewed Mars Orbital Mission with Venus Flyby”
- The Downlink
- Subscribe to the monthly Planetary Radio newsletter
This Week’s Question:
What unofficial, but common, name for a type of feature on Venus sounds like it would be delicious for breakfast?
This Week’s Prize:
That rarest of asteroids, a r-r-r-rubber asteroid.
To submit your answer:
Complete the contest entry form at https://www.planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, June 15 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
Last week's question:
On the Apollo 11 goodwill messages disc, messages from the leaders of how many countries other than the USA are included?
The winner will be revealed next week.
Question from the May 25, 2022 space trivia contest:
Name all the United States planetary spacecraft (those that went beyond Earth orbit) that launched in the 1980s.
The only United States planetary spacecraft (those that went beyond Earth orbit) launched in the 1980s were Galileo to Jupiter and Magellan to Venus.
Mat Kaplan: Come with me to the Humans to Mars Summit this week on Planetary Radio. Welcome, I'm Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. Another blockbuster show for you. It was so great to be back in Washington DC for the first time in three years. Explore Mars decided the time was right to bring the Mars community together for a face-to-face gathering. I'll share conversations I had with several stars of the summit, including poet, artist, and now astronaut, Sian Proctor. She served as pilot for the Inspiration4 mission on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. And Lori Glaze, the director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. Later we'll enjoy our regular visit with Bruce Betts who has a special opportunity to announce.
Mat Kaplan: Brr, it's a chilly winter Martian morning, you'll see a top the June 3rd edition of the Downlink. Four images taken by the Mars Odyssey orbiter of beautiful frost down on the surface. Ingenuity has begun a well earned winter snooze. The cold reduced sunlight and dust storms will keep the little helicopter grounded for the winter. Also, at planetary.org/downlink, those cute little plants are in soil that has never before seen life.
Mat Kaplan: The University of Florida is growing them in actual lunar soil collected decades ago by the Apollo astronauts. They are oddly heartwarming and might even make you imagine a farm on the moon. You'll hear NASA deputy administrator, Pam Melroy mention them in a few minutes. There's more for you in the Downlink, and it's all free. This year's summit ran for three full days.
Mat Kaplan: My job is in the past was to host the live video coverage this time with my friend and colleague, Beth Mund of the Casual Space Podcast. Beth and I also moderated several of the summit panels, including the last one about how Mars might be able to help unite humanity. Every session video is now available for you to enjoy at exploremars.org. So it's the other content I gathered that I'll focus on in this week's show though I'll begin with remarks by NASA deputy administrator, Pam Melroy, the former space shuttle commander admirably filled in for NASA administrator, Bill Nelson, who was under the weather. Here's some of what she shared in her keynote address.
Pam Melroy: It's important to remember that it was young people who filled the stands at Rice University on September 12th, 1962 when they heard President Kennedy issue a bold declaration that America would choose to go to the moon. I don't know. Sometimes I think about it. I wonder what did those in attendance feel or think that day. Did it sound crazy or did it sound like a daring call to action? How inspiring that must have been to feel that sense of possibility? And I think the other wonderful thing is a sense of national unity.
Pam Melroy: So it's a vision that would go on to inspire and define that generation, the Apollo generation. I was a part of that. I was very inspired by the first moon landing and that was my decision to want to become an astronaut by watching that landing. So here we are six decades later. And you know what, America is still capable of doing incredibly hard things. We're very excited about our next big bold thing with us. We're going to be bringing the world with us this time. And Mars is on the horizon.
Pam Melroy: By using what we learn on and around the moon under the Artemis program, NASA will lead humanity's mission to Mars. We will work to overcome the challenges of landing, living, and leaving the red planet to come home. So when you think about why, I think it's pretty clear. I talk to a lot of people about why we send humans out to explore. First of all, exploration of course, but for science, for the things that we can learn, to increase our nation's capabilities and for the benefit of those here on Earth. And finally to inspire.
Pam Melroy: By that, I mean, not just inspiring students to study STEM, but inspiring us to think about what humans are capable of and to be proud of what we can accomplish together.
Pam Melroy: Science tells us more about life on Earth and it's teaching us some pretty surprising things about the rest of the solar system as well. One of the things we think could just about revolutionize everything we understand would be to find life on Mars and be able to compare it to the biology that developed here on Earth. And Perseverance is starting that process right now.
Pam Melroy: Our full Mars sample return mission which will be extremely challenging in the early 2030s in a partnership with ISSA will help give us more clarity than ever about whether or not life existed on Mars and potentially where the best places to find it would be. It's a top priority of the science community, and it's one we're very excited about as we make real progress towards that huge goal.
Pam Melroy: So we often talk about when we're going to go to Mars, but we have to actually start with how. How are we going to do it? So how does NASA sustain human presence and exploration throughout the solar system? How do we harness the power of propulsion necessary for the journey to and from the red planet? How do we cultivate sustainable food production systems on a hostile planet? These are actually just a few of the questions that we've been asking and we've been taking a deep dive.
Pam Melroy: We have 50 high level objectives in NASA's initial moon to Mars framework strategy and we released those 50 objectives today, publicly, and we will be taking comments on them through the end of the month. Each of the objectives currently falls into four overarching categories. First transportation and habitation. Obviously, you have to be able to get there, get home and survive.
Pam Melroy: Infrastructure. If we truly want to explore the solar system, especially the further away we go, we have to have infrastructure to support the long journeys that we will be going on. If we want to maximize our science return on other planets, we have to be able to stay long enough to really reap the benefits. And we need infrastructure to enable a sustained presence. Operations. How do humans work and perform on another planet doing science?
Pam Melroy: We know a lot about microgravity. Right now we know very well how humans can do science efficiently on the International Space Station. This is going to be very different when we're operating on the surface of another planet. And of course science. One of the pillars of the reasons why we go. We have got to be extremely clear about exactly what we need to achieve on the moon to get to Mars.
Pam Melroy: NASA's mission directorates, I have tasked them and challenged them to work together in a unified position a consensus of our top technical leaders at the agency to develop these Moon to Mars objectives that are going to act for us as the guideposts over the next two decades as individual programs and projects and technologies advance and come online and work together.
Pam Melroy: The administrator has a picture painted by the legendary artist, Bob McCall in his office and it shows an Apollo astronaut wielding a science tool. You know what it is? It's a scoop on the end of a stick, and that was their primary science tool to pick up samples. Now, those samples are more precious than gold. They have been amazing at helping us understand more about the moon and the formation of the solar system.
Pam Melroy: But you know what, I think we can do better than that now. I think we know how to do science a little differently. I was so thrilled when I saw the recommendation in the recent decadal survey that suggested maybe we should think about human robotic teaming. And the idea was maybe we have a fleet of AI enabled rovers that go around and collect samples in the most interesting places and then [inaudible 00:09:02] and place them together for our astronauts to bring home.
Pam Melroy: I think about things like, "Wow, wouldn't it be amazing if we had scientists here on Earth wearing a virtual reality headset looking at what astronauts we're looking at and passing the word, "That one. I want that rock. Bring that one home." And think about just some of the exciting things that we're working on right now, a hopper that will sit on the back of a Rover and will hop up to two kilometers down deep into a shadowed crater, take samples and then hop back.
Pam Melroy: So those are just a few examples of the ways that I think we can do really creative and amazing and efficient science on the moon to prepare us to go to Mars. So it goes without saying that sending humans to Mars is a tremendous challenge. We have a lot of things that we have to do and I think the objectives really highlight the roadmap of things that we have to achieve.
Pam Melroy: It's an engineering challenge. It's a technological challenge. It's an agricultural challenge and it's a human challenge. So these objectives are going to help us methodically tick off what we need to do to be ready to go to Mars. For example, to minimize the radiation of deep space, we need to invest in propulsion systems. These systems can get us our astronauts to Mars faster, to explore further and to learn about the solar system we live in. We need to take advantage of what's already there in the environment and we need to invest in the technology to land, sustain, and then launch our astronauts off the surface.
Pam Melroy: So last week we shared some very exciting news from a NASA funded study in partnership with the University of Florida and researchers grew plants in nutrient-poor lunar regolith for the first time ever. By studying how the plants responded to the lunar samples, the team hopes to pave the way to grow more nutrient rich plants for the moon and Mars.
Pam Melroy: And of course our full fleet. You have quite a fleet of rovers, orbiters, and a Lander already at Mars which is teaching us about the geology, the planet's core. Do you see the news about the six-hour long marsquake? Very cool. Local weather. How spacesuit material may degrade over time. Those are the kinds of experiments we need to do. So you can see we've been doing a lot as far as it comes to scouting ahead. We're sending our robotic scouts.
Pam Melroy: And now with the objectives, we're going to establish a blueprint for how we're going to get the learning that we need on the ground, on the moon that will take us to Mars. Mars has just been forever our horizon goal, but this administration is really serious about charting our path towards those groundbreaking missions, answering the questions of how we're going to get there and what science we will conduct on the surface.
Pam Melroy: I also always want to talk about this when I talk about us going to the moon in Mars, how we go is as important as what we do. So there's one reason I'm so excited that 19 nations have signed the Artemis Accords with others on the way to join that community. These are basic principles, rules of the road agreements that we've made. Right now the outer space treaty is all that we have. We can go a little bit further, particularly as we're starting to challenge some of those principles, some of which are intention with each other.
Pam Melroy: So we need to get down to it and say, "How are we going to do this? Do it in a transparent way. Do it in an open way." I'll finish up where I started today with President Kennedy's speech 60 years ago. He quoted British explorer, George Mallory, specifically his answer for why he dared climb Mount Everest. And of course the famous response, "Because it's there." I think our response is a lot more nuanced, but it's no less bold. The red planet is a destination for scientific discovery. It's a driver of technologies that will help humans here on Earth, but also enable us to travel and explore.
Pam Melroy: It will strengthen our nation's capabilities and it will inspire a whole generation that is eager to put its own mark and build on what we have done and will achieve together. Humans, visiting Mars in person, I believe will truly change civilization. So Mars is calling us. Let's answer the call and together we'll prove that the dream is no longer deferred. Thank you.
Mat Kaplan: Lori Glaze was last heard on Planetary Radio during our coverage of the 2021 Humans To Mars Summit. It was entirely virtual. It was great to join her again in person. Lori directs the Planetary Science Division at NASA part of the science mission directorate. I caught her right after her appearance on the H2M stage. We talked on camera during a break in the program.
Mat Kaplan: It's great to see you again.
Lori Glaze: It's great to see you too, Mat, always.
Mat Kaplan: You had all kinds of great information for us. More proof that we are in this golden age of exploration. I'm thinking of the recently released recommendations of the decadal survey, the one on Planetary Science and Astrobiology. Fascinating document. There's no way we could talk about all the recommendations here, but right up at the top of the list or near the top of the list, maybe number two, are we finally going back to an ice giant? Are we going to maybe go to Uranus?
Lori Glaze: It's a great question. And yes, we're all really, really excited about the decadal survey that was released on April 19th. It is an enormous document. It has so much great information in there and we are still in the process of absorbing all of that. We're all very excited about all those recommendations. As you noted the number two recommendation for the very next big flagship or the big strategic mission is a mission to an ice giant and they've recommended a mission to Uranus.
Lori Glaze: So we're in the process of looking at that. We're digesting. So I don't really have a public comment on that yet, but I would encourage you to tune in a couple of months, probably midsummer. We expect to start talking a little more publicly about our preliminary response to decadal survey.
Mat Kaplan: Let's talk about that number one recommendation, which I'm sure you can talk about. Ken Farley, project scientist for Perseverance, the Rover was on our show Planetary Radio last week, gave us a glowing report on how it's doing as it enters now, so exciting, that river delta. I thought that'd be a reaction. So it's doing its job. It's collecting those samples. But Perseverance can't help us get them back to Earth other than this step that it's taking. A lot of challenges ahead.
Mat Kaplan: I'm also thinking of the geopolitical situation with Rosalyn Franklin, that ExoMars Rover and so on. Is everybody scrambling now to figure out how this is going to work?
Lori Glaze: It's a really great question. Let's just tackle the Mars sample return part first. I am really, really excited that the decadal survey gave a very strong endorsement for Mars sample return. We of course had already kind of kicked that off and initiated it at the start of the decadal survey, but they came out in an incredibly strong support for making sure we get that sample return completed as quickly as possible. So we are charging forward on Mars sample return, as you know, but as you alluded to, there are some complications. Our primary partner on my Mars sample return is European Space Agency.
Lori Glaze: And of course they have now had to delay the Rosalyn Franklin launch because of the political situation. It's a challenge. And we certainly want to be a good partner in all ways. We are talking with ISSA and considering whether there are ways. If there's a possibility that there's a way that NASA could assist, but at this time that's still under consideration.
Mat Kaplan: But we saw here yesterday that at least another one of the phases of sample return, I mean, we heard from one of the sponsors about the MAV, that Mars Ascent Vehicle and how it's going to lift those samples collected by Perseverance up into orbit. I guess that's moving forward.
Lori Glaze: Oh, it's moving forward fantastic. In fact, we've awarded the contract for that. And so the Mars Ascent Vehicle work is really progressing. It's underway. It's a critical part. It'll be the first time we ever launch from another planet. We've launched off of the moon, of course, but we have never launched from another planet. So this is incredibly challenging to actually deliver that rocket, but not just the rocket. It's also the launch system.
Lori Glaze: It's not a trivial thing to achieve there. So I'm glad that the technology investment is happening early, because that's going to be a tall pole.
Mat Kaplan: I'll say it again. Space is hard, mars is harder. It's always sad to hear about a mission that is coming to an end. You talked about insight. Probably we'll finish its work this year after doing great work, but the science results, which you said have been outstanding. I'm thinking of the discovery, the sensing of this rather strong Earthquake one that I'm from Southern California would be a pretty good shake. It doesn't sound like Mars is quite as dead as some people once thought.
Lori Glaze: Maybe. Although the science team are still really analyzing that data, which like you say, how incredible that here we are starting to see perhaps the final months of insight. And we got blessed with this incredible marsquake. But the team is still assessing the quake and trying to understand better where it is, how large it really... Pinpoint the size of it and gather as much information as they can. And so I'm not going to step out on a limb and pre-guess what that interpretation is, but the data are just absolutely incredible.
Mat Kaplan: We're running out of time. So I'll just go to one more world while we're here and that's Venus. Couple of missions. And, oh gosh, I should talk about psyche as well. I've got to put that in. Great things happening in the asteroid belt.
Lori Glaze: Oh my gosh. Things are so busy. We have so many wonderful things happening right now. I'll just real quick, yes, excited about the decade of Venus. How exciting. We've got two Venus missions selected by the US in addition to the mission selected by European Space Agency, the envisioned mission. So all three planning to launch near the end of the decade. It's going to be a great time for Venus science in the coming years.
Lori Glaze: Asteroid science, let's talk, not just the science missions, Lucy and Psyche, and OSIRIS-REx bringing samples back, let's talk DART, Double Asteroid Redirection Test. We've got that demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique. First ever humanities attempt at planetary defense where we're going to demonstrate the ability to deflect an asteroid. That's happening September 26th. So stay tuned.
Mat Kaplan: Very exciting. That's going to be quite a show. While we're talking planetary defense and preparing to do that, NEO Surveyor, which as you know didn't do as well as some of us might have hoped in the proposed '23 budget. Still a high priority? We hope so.
Lori Glaze: NEO Surveyor is very, definitely a high priority. We're all a little concerned with what's within the '23 budget. Things happen. That's where we are. But we are working very closely with the team to make sure that we continue forward and that we have a good path forward to get that mission to launch. If you've looked at the decadal survey, it is listed as the next high priority after DART. It's the first high priority mission recommended in a decadal survey for planetary defense.
Mat Kaplan: Excellent. I can't let you go without at least mentioning what's happening at Jupiter. Juno, still delivering great science.
Lori Glaze: Juno. Fantastic. They're doing great. They're now in their extended mission. Really excited about that. They've got funding now, I think for a couple more years, maybe into 24 or 25 to close out that exciting, incredible mission. In their extended mission, they're not only continuing the amazing observations of Jupiter's giant gas atmosphere, but also having fly-by's of several of Jupiter's moons. So we're going to get some fantastic new data there as well.
Mat Kaplan: Got to stop there, I guess. But exciting times. I mean, I said golden age, right?
Lori Glaze: Absolutely. It's a great time to be a planetary scientist.
Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Lori, very much.
Lori Glaze: Thanks, Mat.
Mat Kaplan: A key part of humanity's return to deep space, finally, getting us beyond lower orbit again is the Orion spaceship. Sheela Logan is NASA's Orion program executive and Artemis integration lead. I talked with her on camera during one of the breaks at the H2M action down on the stage at the George Washington University.
Mat Kaplan: Great to hear so much about a lot of discussion about that big rocket that is going to boost Orion up there toward the moon and eventually toward Mars. I mean, SLS is not flown yet. Fingers crossed in the next couple of months. But Orion has and proved itself pretty well, didn't it?
Sheela Logan: It did. It did on the EFT-1 test flight a couple of years ago. While SLS hasn't yet flown, it has been tested very well and has held up really well during our wet dress attempts. When you're bringing together multi-big programs and you're starting to integrate the ground systems, you find things that you probably didn't anticipate, but it's primarily things that you might find on the ground side from a ground processing perspective, not so much. So something fundamental issues with the rocket.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, that's interesting. That did strike me about development of the SLS that a lot of these do seem to be more on the ground support system side.
Sheela Logan: And it's not big things. There are little things, but sometimes until you've actually [inaudible 00:23:07] through a rocket, you don't see some things. And so it's just one of those learning opportunities.
Mat Kaplan: But I want to focus on that spaceship that's going to be up on top of that big rocket. I told you a moment ago, I am a big fan of systems engineering because it makes all of these things possible. I just wonder if it seems to you... I mean, it seems almost miraculous to me that here is a service module developed, built by the European Space Agency, has to be mated perfectly, obviously with the rest of the Orion system. Or maybe I'm not giving the engineers like you enough credit for making all this work out.
Sheela Logan: Well, I mean, it's certainly a lot of work, a lot of work with the Orion team. When I say the Orion team, I mean the ISSA side of the house, the NASA side of the house, the broader team, our contractor team. So it's been significant coordination. I mean, the integration effort is truly Herculean, but it's something that we do. And it's something that the agency has a vast experience with. So very excited to see that launch very soon actually.
Mat Kaplan: We heard someone say that SLS is specifically designed for deep space. That's also true of Orion, right?
Sheela Logan: Correct. So Orion is developed to be that vehicle that'll take us to lunar service and has that capability to go beyond that. So again, as the architecture for future missions are defined, we'll see really what that means. But certainly as we prepare for establishment of a lunar outpost, meaning the gateway as we prepare to take crew members, whether that's a direct transfer to a lunar lander, or whether it's transferred to the outpost, really Orion is our vehicle for that, our spacecraft for that. So yes, it's a very capable spacecraft.
Mat Kaplan: You had a great answer to the person from the audience who asked you about reusability and that really has to be considered component by component, mission by mission. I mean, would you be surprised if a single Orion system capsule didn't make more than, let's say, a couple of trips to the moon?
Sheela Logan: I know that this is something that the program is certainly looking into and they're planning for, from a reuse perspective. Now, keep in mind that the capsule will be landing in salt water. We're landing in a Pacific off the coast of San Diego. So we'll see what comes out, what we're going to learn. Really, but the plan is at this point to have significant reuse.
Mat Kaplan: But Joe Cassidy had that great comment. He said, "They took the skin off of the Orion that has been to space and it looked like it hadn't been out of the room now."
Sheela Logan: Yeah. That's true. We certainly have high expectations for the crew module, and plants are being made assuming significant reuse, but we'll see. I mean, really the answer is we'll see as we assess the vehicles, as the teams inspect upon recovery and we'll see just really where we end up from a reuse perspective.
Mat Kaplan: Just one more for you. You mentioned the crew module. We saw pictures of some of those lucky men and women who may actually be riding in that crew module off to the moon. Maybe someday, few years beyond that, beyond the moon. What's their reaction to this new vehicle that's going to be carrying them?
Sheela Logan: I think there's general excitement. I mean, there's excitement within the agency. I mean, I get goosebumps when I watch the videos, right? It's such an incredible time to be where we are as a humanity, where we are in terms of human space flight, what we're about to embark upon. Just pushing the envelope beyond low orbit. And I can't even imagine how exciting must be for crew members who've trained for years and years and years to actually have this vehicle now that's going to take them beyond the station.
Sheela Logan: It's really an exciting time. So I can only imagine. I'm obviously projecting here, but it's really exciting time.
Mat Kaplan: It's time to get back there into deep space.
Sheela Logan: Yes, absolutely.
Mat Kaplan: Thank you very much, Sheela.
Sheela Logan: Thank you.
Mat Kaplan: Sian Proctor became an Explore Mars board member before she learned she'd be going into space. She was famously chosen to join the Inspiration4 crew that spent three days aboard that SpaceX Crew Dragon last September. I sat down with this geologist, teacher, artist and poet backstage at the Humans to Mars Summit.
Mat Kaplan: Sian it is great to see you again. You were way too much in demand for me to get you to a microphone at Yuri's Night. Really, I think probably the star of the evening. So it's great to be sitting backstage with you here at Humans to Mars. Welcome.
Sian Proctor: Thank you. Yes, this is a much quieter venue back here. So we have a moment to just sit and chat.
Mat Kaplan: You've already been in demand when we were out there with the Martians who were attending Humans to Mars here. You're kind of a rock star here too.
Sian Proctor: Yeah. It's always exciting to be in a setting where people are enthusiastic about human space flight, because then they actually recognize me versus being out on the street. I really like the fact that people are getting excited about us going to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Mat Kaplan: I think what people also recognize is that you represent a new class of space travelers. We've seen a few of these people before. Everybody likes to talk about the billionaires and some people are bothered by them. I'm not because they also represent the opening up access to space. But certainly much more so in your case, and some of the other folks like you because I assume you're not yet a billionaire
Sian Proctor: No. Far from being a billionaire. But when I think about Jared Isaacman, my commander and what he did for the first all-civilian mission to orbit, he did it right. He could have just taken his friends and instead he said, "This is a first and I want to set the bar high," and decided to make it a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. So this whole idea of solving for space holes for Earth. And then to take and give away those other three seats, one to Hayley Arceneaux, the first childhood cancer survivor and person with a prothesis to fly to space. And then Chris giving away the generosity seat by donating to St. Jude and that went to Chris Sembroski, and then me winning the prosperity seat as an artist and a poet. So that whole idea of creating a JEDI space just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive.
Mat Kaplan: I love that acronym, of course.
Sian Proctor: Yeah. Thank you. It's a little Star Wars with a Star Trek commission. Star Trek is all about democratization of space and space exploration, boldly going, and then Star Wars having that Jedi theme of making a difference.
Mat Kaplan: Have you been at all surprised by how you've been embraced, how this adventure has been embraced by the general public? Because it's undeniable and it has been very inspiring?
Sian Proctor: Well, I got to say that there were two things that was really nice. When I won the prosperity seat, because it was a competition and a lot of other people entered it that were space enthusiasts, but when they found out that I won, they rallied behind me and they were very supportive and happy that it was me. That was really great to see. But then also just like you were saying, the general public being able to experience what me and my crew mates went through in near real time through the Netflix series. And then how many people have just followed along and felt so inspired and happy about our mission.
Mat Kaplan: That was, by the way, the kind of reality TV that will get my eyes tuned in.
Sian Proctor: Yeah. They did a great job of documenting not only our individual stories, but the bigger theme of, again, raising money to try to end childhood cancer, but also this idea of how we can get more people to be a part of human space flight and why that maters.
Mat Kaplan: I also want to talk about what you are doing with this newfound fame. Well earned. You have a lot of other stuff going on. I mean, I'll just mention one small piece of it. And that was at Yuri's Night when there was an award that you presented to our friend, Loretta Whitesides.
Sian Proctor: Yeah. So when I came back, I wanted to be able to do good in my own way. And so I started the Dr. Sian Leo Proctor Foundation for Art and Science, or a little bit shorter Proctor Foundation for Art and Science. My call sign is Leo and it's because of Leonardo da Vinci. My crew members consider me a modern day Renaissance person combining art and poetry.
Sian Proctor: So I wanted to take a lot of the stuff that I flew into space, particularly coins and things like that and be able to give them away to people who are making a difference here on Earth. So I came up with a JEDI Space Award, just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive to give out annually. I partnered with Yuri's Night and I was able to give the first one out this last Yuri's Night celebration to Loretta Whitesides. It was her SpaceKind training that put me on the path to JEDI space. And she's just been a wonderful friend with the creation of Yuri's Night and celebrating the advancement of human space flight. So I felt it was very appropriate for her to get the first award.
Mat Kaplan: It makes me think, because I know Loretta feels this way, enormous pride in the small part she has had in this accomplishment of yours. So many other organizations, including this one, Explore Mars who like to say, "Yes, Sian one of our own has made it this way." I mean, I think, again, that is recognition of at least among our crowd. And I hope well beyond that how we aspire to become a space-bearing civilization.
Sian Proctor: Yeah. I'm really thankful to Explore Mars. I've been part of the board for a couple of years now. They reached out to me and said that they wanted me to come and help them. This was before I knew that I was going to go to space and be an astronaut. And I felt so grateful because representation matters and having diversity and inclusion, and multiple voices. And Explore Mars is all about that. They're all about how can we go to Mars and make that a JEDI space? So I support everything that they're doing here. And the Human to Mars summit is just another example of the excellence towards that endeavor.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, absolutely. Speaking personally, what has that experience in space, those days in space, days and nights, every 90 minutes, right? What has it meant for you? What has it meant for your work as an artist and a poet?
Sian Proctor: There's a couple of things that it's meant to me. One of the big ones is that whole idea of always having hope. I hope that your dreams are going to come true. So even though I was becoming more seasoned in age, I never gave up hope of being able to achieve that dream. You do that by preparing and persisting. I did a lot of preparation over the last 30 plus years and persisting through a lot of nos and disappointments. But you keep finding ways to move forward. And then when that opportunity comes, being able to take it, I was really fortunate that as a result of basically COVID and us going into lockdown, I discovered my authentic voice as an artist in a poet.
Sian Proctor: That opened up a new world and opportunity for me. So when Inspiration4 came along for the prosperity seat and I had to put myself out there, I did it as an artist and a poet and that was the golden ticket that got me my ride to space.
Sian Proctor: So even though I've got the geology and I've got the analog astronaut, and I've got all this other experiences, those all come along with me on the ride. But I got to tell you, getting up into space and seeing our planet with this new kind of perspective as an artist and poet was magical. And the best thing that I experienced was Earthlight. And when I talked to people about Earthlight, it's the light that's being reflected off of our beautiful planet back at you.
Sian Proctor: It's the same thing as like moonlight. And so you think about how moonlight has captivated us since the early age of us looking up into the sky. And what it means to be bathed in moonlight. Well, I can tell you being bathed in earthlight is far more spectacular and amazing than I could have ever imagined.
Mat Kaplan: I love those images of you in that. Well, it's the Crew Dragon equivalent of the Cupola on the International Space Station, that little dome that you all got to enjoy. You weren't just along for the ride though, and I'll close out with this. You were the pilot.
Sian Proctor: Yes.
Mat Kaplan: I'm very envious, well, first of all of the ride, but also you got to, I assume, play with that wonderful touchscreen control panel, which I only saw... We only had a dummy that we could touch when I was last at SpaceX.
Sian Proctor: Yeah. It was one thing to win my ticket, but then it was another whole thing to be offered the mission pilot seat. A real dream come true because as a kid I wanted to be a pilot and an astronaut. So checked both of those boxes. And the Dragon capsule is autonomous. But what the pilot's role is two things. One, I backed up my commander, Jared Isaacman, who's also a pilot and help give him situational awareness as to what the Dragon capsule is doing.
Sian Proctor: Over the six months of training, I became more like a systems engineer where I understood how all the systems interact and what we could and could not do as a crew.
Mat Kaplan: You ready to go back and maybe go farther?
Sian Proctor: I would love to go back. I'd love to be a moon walker or even a Mars walker one day. But I'm very grateful that I got my chance to go. So if I never go back up again, I'll be okay, but I sure would love to go again.
Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Sian. You obviously are going to stay very busy down here on Earth with the rest of us. Thanks for all you're doing and best of continued success.
Sian Proctor: Thank you so much. And there's no place better than planet Earth. So lots to explore and see here.
Mat Kaplan: Sian would later be presented with the Explore Mars Pioneer Award. Inspiration4 is just one of the more prominent signs that space is becoming much more democratic and much more of a place for commerce. Karina Drees is president of the commercial space flight, Federation. I invited her to join me for another standup interview during an H2M break. Karina, I'm sorry that I never connected with you when you were still out in the Mojave. I love going out to the Air and Space Port. I had a lot of fun there. It's one of the birthplaces, really of commercial spaces, isn't it?
Karina Drees: Absolutely. And it really is a special place. So not only is it home to Scaled Composites, which completed the X-Prize flight in 2004, it really inspired this, this new wave of development in humans in space. It was home to Virgin Galactic for a number of years as they got their program up and running, The Spaceship Company, which was their sister company to build and develop the spaceship fleet, Stratolaunch as well. Virgin Orbit currently does their launches out of Mojave. And then Masten of course has been a long time resident of Mojave in the space program.
Mat Kaplan: Planetary Society, we've got a pretty close relationship with Masten. I was out there to watch one of their rockets do a little hop and try some technology from Honeybee Robotics. I was on the tarmac for that X-Prize winning flight.
Karina Drees: Oh, that's excellent. I unfortunately missed it. I didn't get involved in Mojave until around 2005 slowly and then did an internship out there. But it was very inspirational. That's what inspired me to get into the industry and especially be in Mojave. I think that flight inspired so many people certainly in my generation. It was a completely different perspective. We weren't looking forward to a NASA program, we were thinking about it more from a business perspective, which made it much more exciting, I think, and much more realistic for folks with my background.
Mat Kaplan: Commercial space has evolved apparently as your career has as well. I think it's only come up once or twice in the past. Alan Stern has been a regular guest on our show for many years. Wasn't he one of the founders or early supporters of CSF?
Karina Drees: Absolutely. He was definitely one of the early supporters. And not only that, but he was instrumental in getting some very key programs, stood up that CSF then adopted or became very much involved with. The Suborbital Research Group, for example. And he does a conference, the Next-generation Suborbital Research Conference as well in Colorado. So he's been very involved in commercial space and CSF specifically.
Mat Kaplan: Interesting because it's a great example of a scientist who crosses over into the commercial space entrepreneurial area. I'm really wondering as I look at the membership, it's almost like a club for what we used to call new space.
Karina Drees: Right. It kind of is. And it really has evolved into something that's so much more than just launch and reentry companies. And that was sort of the whole motivation around CSF. It started out as the personal spaceflight federation if you remember 15 years ago. And it's really evolved in now to accommodate anybody and everybody that's operating in space from a commercial perspective.
Karina Drees: So there's a key difference between what a lot of our companies are incentivized by and what a lot of the more traditional NASA type programs might have been incentivized by in the past.
Mat Kaplan: Like most trade associations, you've brought together people who are natural competitors, companies that are natural competitors. What is the mission? Why do they see this as valuable?
Karina Drees: Oh, that's a great question. There are very competitive at times when it comes to operating their businesses. For the most part, the folks that are engaged with CSF activities are the policy and regulatory professionals. And those folks tend to see eye to eye pretty much on just about anything that comes CSF's way. And the reason is from a policy perspective, favorable policy benefits an entire industry. And one of the core principles of CSF is promoting free and open competition.
Karina Drees: All of our members know that. If we take a position on something, it's because we're promoting for an open competition for everybody. So we are not there to advocate for any one organization's interest. We're there to really promote an entire industry. And because of those principles, our members really get behind CSF's mission because everyone shares that mission of being successful in space and specifically for America's space program to be successful.
Mat Kaplan: We talk a lot, particularly on the space policy edition of our show, the monthly policy program we do with my colleague, Casey Dreier about this new model as opposed to the classic model that know you're familiar with, the cost-plus, which is still being used for quite a few projects. It looks like your members are big believers in this new model.
Karina Drees: Absolutely, yeah. The firm-fixed price model is really going to continue benefiting the American space program as a whole because that's what helps companies innovate. And that's what helps get the best technologies to market. If the companies have some skin in the game, then they have a lot of additional incentives to make sure they're putting the best technologies forward because they want to continue developing those technologies.
Karina Drees: They're taking the risk as opposed to the government taking the risk. And that's a key differentiator between what we consider commercial space and what we consider traditional space or the traditional contracting methods.
Mat Kaplan: Lori Garver. You know Lori. I think her book comes out tomorrow and it's about this new era, and how she and others like her thought to bring this in. And there was a lot of resistance to it as you know in part by the traditional aerospace companies. I just wonder if you have any thoughts about what it took to get this in place.
Karina Drees: I think it was a pretty significant effort by a lot of folks at one time. So it was a little bit of a mind shift mentality shift in the administration at the time. Meanwhile, there were some key companies that saw a better way of doing things and SpaceX being one of them at the time back in the early 200s when not a lot was going on in terms of disruption in the industry.
Karina Drees: The combination of those things as well as a lot of the new wave of engineers that were graduating, the shuttle program was about to retire. We needed as a country, I think, some inspiration and getting some new technologies out there and being able for those talented engineers to work on new programs that didn't exist yet. So I think there was a lot of inspiration in addition to the shift in mentality at the administration and within NASA.
Mat Kaplan: What about the balance between the kinds of companies that I think for the most part, if not entirely, are your members and those major legacy aerospace companies that are well represented here today at the Human to Mars Summit. I mean, for example, could a Northrop Grumman or a Boeing, if they said, "We want to join the CSF." Would that be appropriate?
Karina Drees: Yeah. I mean, it really kind of depends. I would say those two core principles are really CSF's guiding light. So it's both promoting commercial aspects of space and promoting free and open competition. And as long as our members really understand those two core principles, we are pretty open with various types of members. So it really comes down to that. And there's something else I just want to mention, I think there's room for all of these companies to be successful in space. Not just the CSF companies. I think there's room for a lot of success because of how competitive things are becoming with other countries.
Karina Drees: It's not just about companies in the US that are competing with each other, it's about the American space program that's competing with other programs around the world. I do think there's room for it. And because of that, there's potential for traditional models to work for very specific types of programs or long term research and development type of programs. So there's definitely room for a lot of companies to be successful in this industry.
Mat Kaplan: A lot of your members are among the most successful in this new commercial sector, I would say. I just yesterday read a piece about boy, the big shakeout is coming because of these... I'll avoid the word recession and say economic downturn that we in the world, the rest of the world may be facing. It's always a challenge especially for younger companies that are not as well established. Is this something that's a topic of discussion?
Karina Drees: One of the things I found really interesting being in Mojave during the pandemic, not only did those companies have contracts to fulfill and obligations to fulfill in timelines to fulfill, they still had boards with a lot of pressure to meet their schedules. But how those companies were not just in Mojave, but across the industry were able to help the nation during a crisis because they had the capability, they had the talent and the capability in house to manufacture hoods, to manufacture ventilators, to manufacture personal protective equipment. And they were very nimble to be able to do that.
Karina Drees: And not have to shut down their business, but be able to simultaneously run these two parallel tracks. Space interestingly over the past two years has been one of the industries that's not been affected nearly as greatly as many other industries. And it's possible that going forward, when we think about economic consequences across the board, amongst the various industries that space will continue being one of those industries that is relatively stable and sustainable.
Mat Kaplan: Let's hope, and let's look beyond any downturn. And in fact, let's hope it doesn't happen at all, but there was a great question from your moderator, Jeff Foust during the session about whether your members are prepared to support what is now happening at the moon. I'm thinking of the CLPS program, lunar payloads, and taking it a lot farther out. Could you imagine a commercial Mars payload program?
Karina Drees: I could actually. And one of the things I said early on in my talk is when I started getting into this industry 15 years ago and I would go to events where we talked about Humans to Mars, it just seemed crazy. Nobody really thought that it was realistic. And here we are actually talking about it. Not only talking about it, but talking about the programs that are going to bring us there. There's so much, I think that's applicable in the HLS program, a programming model that will apply to Mars in the future as well.
Karina Drees: But it really is going to take that entire ecosystem. And I think NASA recognizes how important that is. It's not just about having launches or reentry vehicles. It's an entire ecosystem that's going to be able to make us sustainable as an interplanetary species.
Mat Kaplan: Three years ago, the last time H2M happened in person face to face, it was during our last session, which is always fun where people were talking about boots on Mars. And I said, "That's great. I want boots on Mars. But I want a shoe store on Mars too, so there's commercial development."
Karina Drees: Right, exactly. Yeah. It's not just thinking about the habitat, it's how do people actually thrive and flourish in a relatively desolate place like that?
Mat Kaplan: It's good to know that your organization and your members are among those who are thinking about this kind of thing. Thank you, Karina.
Karina Drees: Yeah. Thank you so much. I was happy to be here today.
Mat Kaplan: More of the Human to Mars Summit is half a minute away. It includes the creator of an audacious plan to get us to Mars by 2033 using almost entirely existing technology. Also, the beautiful homes we may live in once we get there and our weekly visit with Bruce Betts.
Bruce Betts: Hi, it's Bruce. Will you help defend Earth? The Planetary Society is advancing the global endeavor to protect our world from an asteroid impact. It's the one large scale natural disaster we can prevent. But we're not ready yet. Please become a planetary defender and power our crucial work. You can double your support for planetary defense when you make a gift today. When you do a generous member of the society will match your gift up to a total of $15,000. It's a great opportunity to make a difference. Visit planetary.org/defendearth. Thanks
Mat Kaplan: Is the date of humanity's arrival at Mars slipping farther into the future? It seems so. But there are still those who think we can reach the red planet by the early to mid 2030s. Humphrey Price is one of these optimists. Hoppy as most people know him is NASA's chief engineer for robotic exploration. He has turned his optimism into a practical plan. Hoppy, come on down. Sounds like a game show.
Hoppy Price: Right.
Mat Kaplan: How are you? It's been a while.
Hoppy Price: Yeah, I know. It's always good to chat with you, Mat. It's great to be at another one of these Explore Mars H2M Summit. I always enjoyed them. I'm also looking forward to the Artemis I launch. See, I have my SLS pin here.
Mat Kaplan: I love it. I'm envious.
Hoppy Price: I'm ready. Yeah.
Mat Kaplan: I have my Planetary Society P designed by the boss, Bill Nye. But I'll trade you. No, no, actually I won't. You're still chief engineer, right for NASA's Mars-
Hoppy Price: NASA's robotic Mars exploration program, right.
Mat Kaplan: Yes. And you're staying busy with other stuff as well. I mean, it was addressed during a session today. It came up. But I want to talk to you about something that you've proposed, which is I was doing some research, has stirred up some interest, excitement. And that's this 2033 Mars proposal that you put forward. Tell us about it.
Hoppy Price: Well, it's not really a proposal. It was a study that we did just to see if it's feasible or not. But I'm always inspired when Congressman Perlmutter holds up this sticker. It says 2033. We did a study to see, is that really feasible at this point? In this study, we concluded that, yes, it is feasible to do a short stay mission in 2033. And of course the advantage is that in 2033, you can do a mission that's 570 days in total duration or just 1.6 years which is not really a much longer time than we already have experience having people in space. So I think it would be great if we could take advantage of that opportunity. It only once every 15 years that you can do a mission that short.
Mat Kaplan: In spite of the fact that it relies on mostly existing hardware, it's still audacious. It's an orbital mission, right? No landing for this one which is something that's been talked about for, god, decades, I would think.
Hoppy Price: Right. It's like doing Apollo 8. For Apollo, there was a progression of missions. First, there was Apollo 7 in Earth orbit testing out the vehicle. And I think for the habitat that we used to go to Mars, we would want to test that out at the lunar gateway. And then there was an orbital mission, Apollo 8, and then hopefully those systems could be utilized. Then when we add a lander to go on to the Apollo 11 stage and actually do a sortie mission to land on the surface of Mars, maybe four years after we do the orbital mission.
Mat Kaplan: I'm wondering because I know there's some people who look at this more as an Apollo 10, although without the landing system and wondering why would we want to go all this way to Mars... You've talked about because it'd be great practice, but all the way to Mars and to get so tantalizingly close as they did on Apollo 10.
Hoppy Price: Right. Well, I think the key thing is having a lander. So having a Lander to actually be able to meet the crew in orbit, land them on Mars and then come back up to the orbiter to come back to Earth. I don't see that could be feasible by 2033. There's just a lot of time and money that would have to be invested in that. I think it could be ready by the mid to late 2030s. But I think 2033 is this opportunity to do the Apollo 8 step and do an orbital mission. If we were to be so bold, it would definitely be a bold step to take
Mat Kaplan: I'll say. And as I said, mostly conventional existing hardware. Falcon Heavy is a lot of them. Three SLSs, space launch systems?
Hoppy Price: Yes, that's right.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah. So chemical rockets, assembly in space and first human mission to Venus?
Hoppy Price: Right. Because the 2033 opportunity in order to get back to the Earth in 570 days, you do a Venus fly by gravity assist. So if we did this mission, it would be the first crew to go to Mars and Venus. Quite a historical first.
Mat Kaplan: A twofer.
Hoppy Price: That's right. Exactly.
Mat Kaplan: I don't want anybody to get the idea since the panel you were on today was about nuclear... Not versus, but nuclear and chemical propellant.
Hoppy Price: Absolutely.
Mat Kaplan: You're a nuclear engineer. So I imagine you don't have anything against nuclear propulsion that's now back in development.
Hoppy Price: Yeah, not at all. I'm really excited about developing these nuclear propulsion systems, but as we saw in the National Academy's report on that, it's probably not going to be ready for humans to use for a while. But I absolutely think we should continue that development. And one of the things we noted in the panel is that I think it's absolutely essential to have nuclear surface power for the moon and also for Mars to provide reliable power and a lot of power for crews that would be living for a long time on the surface of those worlds.
Mat Kaplan: Got to make that oxygen to breathe and make more fuel. Right? Although I think yours doesn't require that propellant be brought for the return. Do I have that right?
Hoppy Price: Yeah. So the concept that I have studied, you take all of your propellant with you and it's all space doable propellant. So there's no cryogenic. So you don't have to keep anything cold and you have everything you need to come back. For a lander that we've studied, it's fully fueled maps. So you're able to do abort at any time. Even during descent, you could abort to orbit or after you land, or if you didn't land next to the place where you really wanted to land to, you can still abort to orbit come back at.
Mat Kaplan: Could you hop over to where you want to be?
Hoppy Price: That probably don't have enough propellant for that. Yeah.
Mat Kaplan: Just a shot in the dark there.
Hoppy Price: Right.
Mat Kaplan: One more thing to talk about, again, came up today and it's this transition from talking about EDL, entry, descent, and landing to EDLA, adding ascent. Sounds like we're on track for the return of those precious samples. The Perseverance is crawling around Jezero crater picking up right now.
Hoppy Price: Yeah. We're very excited about that, about the sample of return lander and the Mars ascent vehicle and the European Earth return orbiter and then the Earth entry vehicle to... There's a lot of steps involved in bringing those samples back. It's a pretty complex problem, but things are on track. The plans are not completely finalized yet. It's still being studied, but people are on board. They've signed up to be on board and it's moving out in a very serious way. It's in NASA's budget. So we're often running from our sample return.
Mat Kaplan: Exciting times, especially for Mars exploration. Thank you, Hoppy. Always a pleasure and thanks for being part of Humans to Mars again.
Hoppy Price: Oh, great. My pleasure. Always good to be here with you.
Mat Kaplan: Hoppy Price, NASA's chief engineer for Mars exploration programs. But based at JPL for many, many years.
Hoppy Price: Well, it's based at JPL, but in the program office, we're representing all of NASA. So I wear my NASA hat. I have my NASA pen on, see? NASA. Not JPL, NASA .
Mat Kaplan: Wearing it proudly. Living on the moon in Mars presents yet another tremendous challenge. Melodie Yashar has thought a lot about how we'll design and build our homes on other worlds. She is the director of building design and performance for ICON, a pioneer in the use of robots to print structures. Melodie had already built a notable reputation as an architect and designer before she reached ICON.
Mat Kaplan: So I have been a fan of your work, your team's work for long, long before this day. And you got to feature some of that work here. And it's just a shame that we can't illustrate this conversation with some of that work because you design, well, habitats, homes for people living off the surface of Earth, but also for Earth, which I'll come back to.
Mat Kaplan: The thing is that your homes are beautiful, your habitats, Ice House, X-House. So many of these lunar and marsh and habitats that we see are... You would think by necessity, piles of dirt are regolith because they need the radiation protection, which your team has taken into account. But you've come up with these beautiful homes that look like they would actually be places someone would want to live. And that was obviously a goal.
Melodie Yashar: Yes, that's right. We took a human centric approach and designed what we felt in all of these projects, frankly, what we felt would be the optimal experience for living on the surface of Mars for a one year mission. In this case, most of our projects are focusing on a one year mission. Most of the teams I've collaborated with in the past, including space exploration architecture, which was a company I co-founded. And now more recently with ICON as well as the Bjarke Ingels Group who's a collaborating architect with ICON.
Melodie Yashar: At the moment we like to approach the architectural design in terms of what values we can provide from a human factors perspective first, and then synthesize those value adds with other traditional engineering constraints like how do we mitigate against temperature differentials or how do we create a pressurized environment structurally speaking? And what are the materials we're going to use to actually create a functional habitat and a pressurized enclosure?
Melodie Yashar: So it's this combination of both human-centric, design thinking sort of methodologies when it comes to thinking about human needs and human wants combined with synthesizing engineering constraints.
Mat Kaplan: And when you talk about materials that these habitats are made of, I think you're also talking about is ISRU, In-Situ Resource Utilization. Is that key to a lot of this?
Melodie Yashar: Yes, exactly. So for additive manufacturing and 3D printing to become a successful technology for building habitats on the moon and Mars, we need to leverage the local and indigenous materials on the surface of the planet and leverage ISRU to actually create construction feed stock and materials to create these radiation shields, unpressurized structures and then eventually pressurized habitats.
Mat Kaplan: Ice, water ice as a building material, which turns out to be pretty effective for doing the things you need a habitat to do, right?
Melodie Yashar: Yes. So the initial proposal that the team SEArch+ Clouds AO introduced to the NASA Centennial challenge for a 3D printed habitat on Mars was a proposal for an ice habitat, 3D printed out of water ice. What we introduced for that structure was a pressurized membrane that would then be 3D printed... Well, 3D printed ice on the inside of that pressurized membrane. Water is a superior radiation shield over materials like aluminum and regolith. So that was a clear value add from our perspective to shield and protect the astronauts against galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events. This was the real benefit that we introduced in introducing water ice as a construction material.
Mat Kaplan: Maybe just a word also about the Mars X-House, both of these basically winners of competitions. And maybe you could go on to talking about the NASA 3D printed habitat competition that you won with both of these.
Melodie Yashar: Yes. In 2015, NASA Centennial Challenges put out a public solicitation for the general public to introduce concepts for 3D printed Mars habitats. They gave some general requirements and parameters for the programs and areas that would be included within the habitat and some general parameters for materials and why those materials should be considered.
Melodie Yashar: In the case of Mars Ice House ice was never really considered as a construction material. So that was a new and innovative idea that I don't think anybody really expected. Despite that we were fortunate to win first prize in the 2015 Phase 1 challenge. And then when the competition was reinstated with different material requirements, we were fortunate enough to win first prize for Mars X-House, which was a sulfur based regolith habitat proposal.
Mat Kaplan: And I wish we could show the interiors because they are as beautiful as the exteriors. But again, we will just tell people where can people see these designs?
Melodie Yashar: Sure. If you'd want to, you can take a look at my website, melodieyashar.com. Space Exploration Architecture, Clouds AO as well as Bjarke Ingels Group are some of the groups that I've collaborated with over the last few years. And if you'd like to have more information about ICON, our website is iconbuild.com.
Mat Kaplan: What is Mars Dune Alpha?
Melodie Yashar: So Mars Dune Alpha is our design for the CHAPEA analog. CHAPEA stands for the Crew Health and Performance Exploration analog. This is-
Mat Kaplan: Well done.
Melodie Yashar: It's a long name, yes. Mars Dune Alpha kind of sounds rolled off the tongue, right? Like it's a little bit easier to say. So it is a 1,700 square foot analog habitat that we built in collaboration with NASA at the Johnson Space Center. It is going to house four volunteer crew members simulating a mission to Mars over the course of one year. What we did is we deployed our gantry-style construction printer in the building. And in building 220 at Johnson Space Center and basically 3D printed the habitat, and it should be in operation, I believe in October.
Mat Kaplan: For people to live in under, as close to Mars analog conditions as we can achieve here on Earth, right?
Melodie Yashar: As close as we can design them to be, yes, that's right.
Mat Kaplan: And people should see the video that you showed in the session a few minutes ago with this amazing device going back and forth and building this structure, which is now complete.
Melodie Yashar: Yes. If you take a look again at iconbuild.com, we have lots of videos showing how the gantry operates, what it looks like when it was deployed in building 220 at Johnson Space Center. And you can learn much more about the project there.
Mat Kaplan: So we're talking about the moon and Mars, but I know that you are also very concerned about how people live their living spaces here on Earth. Perhaps in particular for people who live in less advantaged areas. And how is this work spilling over into helping people on Earth?
Melodie Yashar: One of the key advantages of additive manufacturing and 3D printing as a construction technology is that we really believe that by scaling it up, we're going to introduce new efficiencies in building construction that you cannot have in traditional means and methods like with wood frame construction or using concrete masonry units.
Melodie Yashar: So we're able to design and also to build faster and more affordably for those who need it. It's really our mission at ICON to design accessible, dignified, and resilient housing solutions for the people in the areas that need it most.
Mat Kaplan: Terrific work. Thank you so much, Melodie. Keep it up. It's going to be fascinating to see people move into that home at the Johnson Space Center and see how they do.
Melodie Yashar: Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.
Mat Kaplan: Please forgive a bit of self-indulgence before I close our coverage of the 2022 Humans to Mars Summit. Here's Explore Mars president, Janet Ivey.
Janet Ivey: To our dear friend, Mat Kaplan, who has been taking us to outer reaches of the solar system and beyond by interviewing scientists, engineers, mission leaders, astronauts, advocates, and writers who provide their unique and exciting perspective on the exploration of our universe via Planetary Radio for the last 19 and a half years. Yes, give a big round of applause.
Janet Ivey: This afternoon we want to honor Mat for being chief advocate and art supporter of the Human to Mars Summit now. We can't count how many years, because none of us apparently know when he just started being a Martian with all of us. So we're going to say at least the last seven or so. It might be more, but it's always perfect. We are so grateful. So whether live or in person, online, hosting our webinars, Mat has been there. Microphone at the ready with a beautifully astute curiosity, delivering the best content and all with [foreign language 01:06:23].
Janet Ivey: For all that you have done to bring Mars and the red planet ever closer with your impeccable wit and wisdom, it is my honor and privilege to present you, Mat Kaplan, with the Explore Mars Horizon Award for services above and beyond.
Mat Kaplan: [inaudible 01:06:40] It's like an academy award. Thank you, folks. I'm not speechless because I never am. If you ask my wife who's up in the back, she'll tell you I've been a Martian my whole life. So thank you. I always tell these two that working at this summit every year is one of the highlights for my year, every year. And this year has been the same. It has been great to join all of you. You fellow Martians, thank you so much. I'm truly honored.
Janet Ivey: Oh, we are delighted that you are one with us. So thank you so much.
Chris Carberry: Thank you, Mat. Wonderful. Thanks, Mat. And by the way, Mat, we will ship that to you because I know you're going to England right after. So don't worry about that. You don't have to put it in your check-in luggage.
Mat Kaplan: And that was Explore Mars, CEO and founder, Chris Carberry, closing out our coverage of the 2022 Humans to Mars Summit. I'm so grateful to Chris and everyone at Explore Mars, not just for the award, but for allowing me to be part of their spectacular gathering each year. Don't forget that you can watch the entire program at exploremars.org.
Mat Kaplan: It is time for What's Up on Planetary Radio. Sitting virtually across from me is the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, Bruce Betts. Welcome back.
Bruce Betts: Hi, Mat.
Mat Kaplan: We are going to get to all the usual stuff, but I'm hoping that upfront you can tell us about the very significant new opportunity that as we speak is just opened up a couple of days ago.
Bruce Betts: Yes, indeed. We have released a new request for proposals from The Planetary Society for our STEP grants program, Science and Technology Empowered by the Public. And we had our first round decided a few months ago. I have a couple great new projects and we're looking for new science and technology projects. And you can find all the information online at planetary.org/stepgrants. One word, stepgrants. The deadline for the preliminary proposals, which are required is August 17.
Mat Kaplan: How many PhDs do I have to have to be able to apply for this?
Bruce Betts: You don't require any to apply, but you do require at least three to actually have a chance of winning. That is not true. That is not true at all. There are students that work under people with PhDs who are on the winning proposals. No, it's not a requirement. Stop this. Stop this. You are not eligible though. And everyone else is. It's internationally open. It's open to everyone. But Mat Kaplan, I made sure to add that this year. No, that's not true. You work for The Planetary Society, so you're not eligible.
Mat Kaplan: What's a shame is that I have a surefire proposal for warp drive, but the world have to wait.
Bruce Betts: You'll have to find some other sucker. I mean, someone else to fund that.
Mat Kaplan: And just briefly, the two that were funded are going well, you say?
Bruce Betts: Yes, they're going well. And you had a wonderful show with them when we selected them. So we've got a UCLA project developing a citizen science project to help them remove noise from radio astronomy signals where they're trying to find if there are any signals from ET in there. So it's study related. And then the other is in Serbia at the University of Belgrade and a group figuring out a new way to characterize near Earth asteroids, which we are always part of our planetary defense program I'm interested in.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, which we have a major campaign going on right now. People may have heard your voice talking about that just a few minutes ago on this very episode.
Bruce Betts: Did I sound good?
Mat Kaplan: No, you haven't recorded it yet.
Bruce Betts: Oh. And right now there are no mistakes.
Mat Kaplan: Broke that fourth wall right down. What's up in the night sky?
Bruce Betts: Such silliness. Not in the night sky. Night sky is fun, big fun. We've got a full moon on June 14th, which I mentioned because it is a so-called super moon, which I think is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I haven't figured out mediocre moon doesn't inspire people. So it's a full moon that occurs near the closest point in the moon's elliptical orbit. So the moon appears a little bit larger and a little bit brighter than average. That's on the 14th.
Bruce Betts: In the pre dawn sky, we've got planets still partying, all lined up. Even Mercury is shining the party if you can get a view low to the east in the pre dawn. From the horizon up, we got Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. All in a line because we orbit in roughly the same plane. But wait, don't worry yet, Mat. On June 17th, the moon will join the line starting with passing Saturn high up. And then by 11 days later on the 28th that will have moved down to Mercury snuggling up with them along the way.
Bruce Betts: Whew, on to this weekend space history, it was 2003. It's another couple things to make you feel time passes quickly. 2003, the Spirit rover was launched. That didn't work. How about 2010, 12 years ago, Hayabusa 1 the first Hayabusa returned asteroid samples to the Earth for the first time.
Mat Kaplan: That can't be true.
Bruce Betts: There we go.
Mat Kaplan: Crazy. 2003, I was just speechless because we were all together at Planet Fest for the landing of Spirit, the first of those twins to arrive. That was very, very exciting.
Bruce Betts: It was very exciting. And I was, and it was really nice because it worked. They keep having things work. It's very cool. All right. We move on to Random Space Fact.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, it is. No worries.
Bruce Betts: All right. We're going to the exotic planet, Earth. Earth's north magnetic pole, location where the magnetic field point, where your compass point towards, it moves. It's been moving a lot faster in the last couple decades than before whereas in the 19th century and most of the 20th, it was going anywhere from not moving zero up to 15 kilometers per year. It was hanging out in Canada, long term, very comfortable in Northern Canada, but then it started clipping about 20 years ago up to 50 to 60 kilometers per year.
Bruce Betts: It's been jamming north headed off towards Siberia and it actually got closer to the true north pole for a while. Made it to 390 kilometers within the geographic pole. Now, it's headed to south from the pole and headed to Siberia and least recent papers think there are a couple magnetic blobs of material fighting between under Canada and under Siberia. I think they should be named Mat and Bruce. I claim Canada.
Mat Kaplan: That whole idea of two blobs far under the surface of the Earth. We do have a strange planet. We do have a very weird place. I mean it's infested. First of all, the surface is just infested. It's crazy. I mean, that's why it's mostly harmless.
Bruce Betts: Shall we move on to the trivia contest?
Mat Kaplan: Yeah. It's time.
Bruce Betts: So I asked you to name all the US planetary spacecraft defining it as beyond Earth orbit and including the moon. All of them launched in the 1980s. How did we do, Mat?
Mat Kaplan: Not a huge response this time. I'm going to let Jean Lewin in Washington provide the poetic response to this. "To circumnavigate the globe, Magellan sailed to westward path. Galileo focused eyes aloft and faced the inquisition's wrath. Both were controversial, at least during their time pushing boundaries, countering laws, some of faith, some of the brine. They were honored by the NASA team during the 1980s frame, ships to Venus, the other Jupiter bearing each explorer's name.
Bruce Betts: Indeed, Galileo and Magellan.
Mat Kaplan: And a great poem. Thank you, Jean. And since we now know the answer, well, here's the winner according to random.org. And he's a first time winner as far as I could tell. Edwin King in the United Kingdom where I was just like a week and a half ago, having a delightful time. He said, "Yep, Magellan and Galileo. The much delayed Ulysses didn't make the cut." But of course that was basically a solar observer, right?
Bruce Betts: Yes. But I would've counted it particularly because it flew by Jupiter to get to this over the poles of the sun, oddly enough. So the striking thing here is there were only two US planetary missions launched and both were launched in 1989. And that's in fact part of why The Planetary Society was started because of that dismal look at the '80s and that was before challenger, disaster, and delays, further delays because of that. We are doing some really cool stuff now at much larger quantities, and it's exciting. Partially, thanks to you, members of The Planetary Society.
Mat Kaplan: Thank you. I'm glad you brought that up. Of course, we weren't the only ones who were pushing things out toward the planets-
Bruce Betts: That's true.
Mat Kaplan: ... during that period. Yeah. Dave Fairchild in Kansas, our poet laureate. "The USSR was out launching the US by nearly a score. Their missions to planets were plenty. The '80s, at least eight or more. But we finally got on the wagon, Magellan in May '89 and shoehorned the last in October to bring Galileo online." Yeah, the Soviets were far more active during that decade than we were. But we've made up for it since then.
Bruce Betts: Yeah. And I thought of asking that, but then, people, it would've been a really long answer.
Mat Kaplan: I'm going to go back to Edwin King, our winner because he's in the UK. He said, "I hope Mat enjoyed the UK. Sorry about the weather." Actually Edwin, we were incredibly lucky. We hardly had any rain at all even when we were walking across the countryside and the Cotswold. So we did extremely well. Thank you for that, by the way. Edwin, we're going to send you a copy of Packing for Mars, or actually the publisher is going to send you Packing for Mars for Kids by Mary Roach. So congratulations.
Mat Kaplan: Christopher Mills said, "You could maybe count the Klingon ship, renamed The Bounty. It launched from San Francisco after saving the whales in Star Trek 4. So it was a US launch." He is correct there.
Bruce Betts: Huh. Wait a sec. I said US planetary spacecraft, not US launch.
Mat Kaplan: Good point. Finally, this. Not really contest related, although she did mention this as part of her contest entry, Laura Dodd, longtime listener in California who said, "Congratulations, Mat for the Mars Horizon Award, which is that award that I got from Explore Mars while I was at the Humans to Mars Summit.
Bruce Betts: Congratulations.
Mat Kaplan: Thank you. She said, "Did you also get a prize for best neck tie?" I said, "No, no, I did not, Laura. But I really should have, shouldn't I?" Wore a different Mars tie each of the three days of H2M. Maybe that's why I got the Mars Horizon prize, actually.
Bruce Betts: Yep, that explains some things. I could make you something. We can do a certificate. I've got crayons right next to me.
Mat Kaplan: Sure.
Bruce Betts: Which is odd.
Mat Kaplan: Don't hurt yourself with those. Don't run with the scissors either. There they are, 64. I love that set.
Bruce Betts: I'm creating something for one of our programs and doing tests with crayons. All right. Let's just move on. It's not for the STEP grants, by the way.
Mat Kaplan: What have you got for us?
Bruce Betts: What unofficial but common name for a type of feature on Venus. Sounds like it would be delicious for breakfast.
Mat Kaplan: Wow.
Bruce Betts: Go to planetary.org/radiocontest.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah. There's nothing called French toast that I know of on Venus.
Bruce Betts: Oh, nice. Now, I need a new one.
Mat Kaplan: You got until the 15th. That'll be June 15th at 8:00 AM Pacific Time to get us the answer for this one. And we'll go back one more time to handing out to somebody a rubber asteroid, a Planetary Society kick asteroid, rubber asteroid. Now, we're done.
Bruce Betts: All right, everybody. Go out there. Look out the night sky and think about what is your favorite shape of pasta? I'm sure Mat's got one. Thank you. And goodnight.
Mat Kaplan: Whoa. A question about pasta and you're you're doing artwork? You really are a Renaissance man. He's a Leonardo da Vinci. He's Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society who joins us every week here for What's Up.
Bruce Betts: I didn't say artwork, I said I was using crayons.
Mat Kaplan: Planetary Radio is produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California, and is made possible by its members, some of whom love angel hair pasta best. Your seat of the table awaits at planetary.org/join. Mark Hilverda and Rae Paoletta are our associate producers. Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. Ad astra.