Planetary Radio • May 29, 2024

International integration: The path from the Moon to Mars

Please accept marketing-cookies to listen to this podcast.

Download MP3

On This Episode

Kaplan mat headshot 0114a print

Mat Kaplan

Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society

Masami onoda portrait

Masami Onoda

Director for the Washington D.C. Office of JAXA

Adnan al rais portrait

Adnan Al-Rais

Assistant Director General of Space Operations and Exploration at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

Didier schmitt portrait

Didier Schmitt

Strategy & Coordination Group Leader at the European Space Agency

Rebekah davis reed portrait

Rebekah Davis Reed

Lead on International Integration at NASA's Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate

Mike Gold

Mike Gold

Executive Vice President for Civil Space and External Affairs at Redwire

Bruce betts portrait hq library

Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

Sarah al ahmed headshot

Sarah Al-Ahmed

Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society

Every year, Explore Mars hosts the Humans to Mars Summit, a gathering of people from around the world who want to advance human exploration of the Red Planet and beyond. This week on Planetary Radio, we share a conversation from the summit about integrating NASA and its partners as humanity looks to build a permanent and sustainable human presence on Mars. You'll hear from Mat Kaplan (The Planetary Society's senior communications advisor) and representatives of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), and the commercial space industry. Then, we'll check in with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, for What's Up and a new random space fact.

Mars from the Hope spacecraft
Mars from the Hope spacecraft This view of Mars was made by amateur image processor Jason Major using image data captured by the United Arab Emirates' Hope Mars orbiter in 2022.Image: UAESA, MBRSC, LASP, EMM-EXI, Jason Major


Sarah Al-Ahmed: To get humans to Mars, we need international collaboration. This week on Planetary Radio. I'm Sarah Al-Ahmed of The Planetary Society, with more of the human adventure across our Solar System and beyond. Every year Explore Mars hosts the humans to Mars Summit, a gathering of people from around the world who want to advance human exploration of the red planet. Today we share a panel from the summit on integrating NASA and its partners moderated by our senior communications advisor, Mat Kaplan. Then we'll check in with Bruce Betts, our chief scientist of The Planetary Society for What's Up. If you love Planetary Radio and want to stay informed about the latest space discoveries, make sure you hit that subscribe button on your favorite podcasting platform. By subscribing, you'll never miss an episode filled with new and awe-inspiring ways to know the cosmos and our place within it. The annual Humans to Mars Summit brings fans of the red planet from across the space community to discuss how humans can create a sustainable and permanent presence on Mars. This year's summit was held on May 7th and 8th at the George Washington University in Washington DC, USA. Our senior communications advisor and the previous host of Planetary Radio, Mat Kaplan, has been a staple at the summit for years. He moderates panels and co-anchors the livestream coverage. The upcoming conversation on international collaboration on the Space Road to Mars comes at a very interesting time. Space agencies around the world are scaling up their exploratory efforts. Meanwhile, in the United States, NASA Science is facing the first budget cut in a decade. These cuts do impact the US's international partnerships and space, but the dedicated people behind the world space agencies are still committed to working together to reach our goals on the Moon and on Mars. Much of the technology and international cooperation necessary to get humans from the Moon to Mars is going to be established in the coming era of crude lunar exploration through NASA's Artemis program and all of the other lunar programs going on with different space agencies. In this discussion you'll hear our guests refer to the Artemis Accords, which were developed by the United States in conjunction with NASA's Artemis program. The Accords serve as practical and modern principles to guide international cooperation in space exploration. You'll hear from representatives of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, and the European Space Agency or ESA. You'll also hear from the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and commercial space industry. First we have Dr. Masami Onoda, who is the director of the Washington DC office of JAXA. Then Dr. Didier Schmitt, who is the strategy and coordination group lead at ESA. He coordinates human and robotic exploration for the European Space Agency. Then we have Dr. Rebekah Davis Reed. She's the lead on international integration at NASA's Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. Before joining the Directorate, she was the acting deputy director for Exploration Architecture and Integration at the Johnson Space Center. Then we have Adnan Al-Rais, who is the assistant director general of Space Operations and Exploration at the United Arab Emirates Space Agency's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre or MBRSC. He's the senior director of the Remote Sensing department. So he and his team at the UAE are responsible for all downstream activities for the MBRSC's Mars missions. And finally, Mike Gold, who's the chief growth officer at Redwire, that's an American aerospace manufacturer and space infrastructure technology company. He was formerly NASA's associate administrator in the office of International and Interagency Relations. The discussion begins with Rebekah Davis Reed.

Rebekah Davis Reed: There's a set of recurring tenets that are part of the Moon to Mars objectives, which are a set of themes that cut across all of our goals for spaceflight at NASA. And as you can see, the very first recurring tenet there is international collaboration. So when we think about going back to the Moon and going on to Mars and eventually exploring the Solar System, we're not going to be going alone. And those international partnerships, the collaborations that we have with all of folks that you see here on the stage as well as many more established and emerging partners are going to be essential because when we explore, we're exploring for the benefit of humanity. And as you all know, being well-involved in human spaceflight, it's hard. Spaceflight is hard and it's complex. And when you have that level of complexity, you really cannot do it alone, nor should we.

Mat Kaplan: Excellent. Thank you, Rebekah.

Rebekah Davis Reed: Sure.

Mat Kaplan: Masami, I don't know if you would like to add some additional comments, particularly addressing the fact that we do have a lot of integration that has to take place if we're going to achieve the Artemis objectives.

Masami Onoda: Yes. So I first wanted to thank each and every person in this room and also each and every panelist and speaker here because we've all worked together very much as a team to reach this point, which is just a starting point, as I said. And the architecture, the objectives help us very much doing so. In one of my first panels that I sat in the Humans to Mars Summit maybe five or six years ago, I did mention that Japanese are very planful. We hate surprises. We want to be very much prepared and we like to take incremental step-by-step approaches. And I think looking back, we have taken just that and we've been able to do that with the leadership of the United States and also our partners. So this is very much an accumulation in very much a way that I believe the Japanese government also and JAXA are happy to work along with. And as you say, there will be a lot of integration, a lot of work, and we have still a lot of pieces that have to come together. Not only Japanese, but other countries have to all come together and I look forward to the discussions on that. Thank you.

Mat Kaplan: Can I say, and I think I said it on stage yesterday, I am so impressed by that pressurized vehicle that Japan-

Masami Onoda: Yes.

Mat Kaplan: ... might be able to provide for our exploration.

Masami Onoda: Yes. Oh, I'm sure we will be able to provide, yes.

Mat Kaplan: Excellent, excellent. No surprise. Adnan, I am just as amazed by the dedication of what is a fairly small nation that has made the huge commitment that the UAE has made to space exploration. And I wish we had time to share a video that showed not just what is happening in deep space, but the enormous amount of work that you're doing in terms of earth science, earth observation. But of course, we're looking out toward the moon and the red planet here. So talk about some of those highlights.

Adnan Al-Rais: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, thank you very much, Mat, for inviting me to the panel and also the organizers. I'm very honored and pleased to be back here in the Humans to Mars Summit. Also, my esteemed panelists here, thank you for joining. So when it comes to the UAE National Space Program, we initiated that back in 2006 with the satellite development program. Then we branched out to the Hope Mission exploring the Mars and beyond that with a human spaceflight program, which we had the first astronaut launched into NASA Space Station in 2019 and the second one to ISS for a long duration mission for six months. And looking for missions beyond that, we have also a Mars 2117 strategy. We're going to talk more about it during the panel today and what is the mechanism to implement that strategy throughout the different programs and different initiatives. And all those programs, initiatives and projects align with the Globe Exploration Roadmap. And also we have the international element always integral in all of our programs and all of our mission. Every single project, every single mission that we worked on, we worked with international partners because we believe that the space is for all, space is a place where you need to work together in order to develop the science and technologies that will serve the humanity here on Earth. So to do that, we have to work together closely and align our goals and our objectives and our projects to achieve that.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you. I have to say, as impressive as missions like Hope and the success of that mission and other things the UAE is doing, I am particularly impressed by how ambitious an effort is being made to provide that airlock for Gateway.

Adnan Al-Rais: Absolutely. I mean, that's another big element as part of the strategy, the UAE being part of the Gateway program through providing the airlock module as well as supporting not only the development but also the operation and having also the first Emirati going around the Moon as part of this contribution. We are looking way beyond that as well, not only on the airlock module but also beyond that to achieve the overall goal of everyone here. Basically to reach Mars and send the human to the surface of Mars.

Mat Kaplan: Turn to you now. And that other very important partner in Artemis, not just ESA, but the member nations that are part of the European Space Agency that have individually become part of the Artemis Accords.

Didier Schmitt: Yeah, indeed. I mean, these are just very nice examples of the tip of the iceberg. That's what you see, UAE providing a very significant contribution to the Gateway. Japan, very nice contribution to the Artemis architecture. What you cannot imagine is what is behind this and the years and years of preparation and discussions and interfaces and so on. So if we talk about Moon to Mars, it's not just the hardware issues and so on, other provision, it's we have to test also for the Mars, Human-Mars mission, this collaboration and that is very fundamental. If we look at a little bit at what happened and what worked also on the European side, providing the European service module, for example, to bring the Orion capsule around the moon and back. What is interesting is once you're in charge of an end-to-end element, that helps quite a lot. Of course there is the interfaces with Orion, but at least it's not too complicated, so to say. I shouldn't say this because if the engineers back home hear this, they will say, "He doesn't know what he talks about." But okay. Anyway. So it's relatively straightforward, providing modules. Of course, for the Gateway, we do this as well. There has been hiccups changing of the launcher, redesign and so on. It's part of, let's say, of the pathway so to say. But what we have learned also from the Mars sample-return issues is that one has to be in charge end-to-end of a decent element. The other thing is we shall also be as partners involved as early as possible in the architecture, reflections and the trades. If we keep waiting for the big picture, so to say, provided by NASA for example, sometimes it's really much too late in our reflection process, in the developments and so on. So that's why, for example, we have decided in 2019 to go for a Lunar Lander, which is a decent lander. So its total mass, really, 10 tons and landing mass, 1.5 tons. And we do it end-to-end, which means we launch it, we land it, we operate. But then of course, the issue comes with what do we put on it? And by when? And this is one of the first difficulties, if you're too much ahead compared to the other partner, you have to catch up at a certain stage. So being part of the reflection again in the architectures and the trades much before let's say the developments or a lead organization like NASA comes with a plan is really essential. So we have to learn from this for the Mars initiative, which the message is very simple. We have really to team up all the partners well ahead and to do our reflection in common and then to decide who does which part and how far we could limit the interfaces. Because as soon as you have interfaces, it gets quite complicated.

Mat Kaplan: Mike, as somebody who probably has done as much as anyone I can think of to encourage the sort of international collaboration that we are hearing about here and that we see evidence of in the Artemis Accords, I would think that you have reason to be pretty proud. And I also know that you understand the difficulties of making this happen, as we have just heard from Didier.

Mike Gold: I wish I was getting a royalty per country that need to work that out better. Yeah, I mean the Artemis Accords, while it seems inevitable now, was extraordinarily challenging to get through. And the reason that we succeeded was the participation of three of the eight founding countries are right here. By the way, if you think the Artemis Accords are well-written, that's because of Japan's contributions. The Japan speaks far better English than we did, and did a wonderful job. And by the way, Japan and Masami, personally, was one of if not the first foreign partner that we came to discuss the Artemis Accords. And again, Japan provided great feedback and support. And United Arab Emirates, the inclusivity of the Accords was driven by UAE. UAE had a terrific broad vision for what the Accords should be in that any country that signed the Outer Space Treaty could participate in the Accords. So we have great gratitude to these countries for supporting it, for pushing the Accords through now with 39 countries having signed the Accords. And the concept behind it was to have the broadest, most diverse global human spaceflight coalition in history. It is a dream made real. And every year, I like to celebrate with a cake and an event. We have an anniversary celebration and we're going to need a bigger cake. That I think we're going to need two cakes moving forward. So extraordinarily excited about the success of the Accords. Space development's not just about better technology, but it's about building a better future for all of humanity, and that's what the norms of behavior in the Accords represent. Speaking of technology though, for a moment, I just wanted to point out that the success of a Martian exploration depends largely on the moon and even reaching back to Low Earth Orbit. A wonderful example of that are the roll-out solar arrays that Redwire is building and is operating now at the International Space Station. If these arrays are compacted like a carpet and then roll-out, creating a lot more volume, a lot more energy, we're now building-

Didier Schmitt: And an ESA astronaut [inaudible 00:15:05].

Mike Gold: Absolutely. It was an ESA astronaut, you can see him, although it was an Emirati astronaut who helped prepare it with Sultan. So a great team effort, I must say.

Mat Kaplan: There you go.

Mike Gold: Absolutely. But these arrays are also going to be used and built for the lunar gateway. Those will be the largest solar arrays ever deployed by humanity. We're looking at applications on lunar surface. So an example of how LEO, the Moon leads to Mars. We need to build the foundation and then implement. Additionally, at Redwire, we were very proud to print the first human meniscus in space. This is another example of how on the International Space Station, we can create biotechnological solutions that we're going to need from Mars because you can't go to the local hospital when you're on Mars. We're going to need to bring medical technology. And who doesn't want a meniscus, right? I think we could all want it. And again, kudos to international astronauts, particularly Sultan Al Neyadi during his long duration mission printed that meniscus. So we're very grateful again to our friends at Emirates. We printed it via the BioFabrication Facility, the BFF. The BFF is what allowed us to print with human tissue. And I'm very proud to not quite announce, we've been talking about this. We printed cardiovascular tissue for the first time on the International Space Station, brought back live cardiovascular tissue from the ISS for the very first time. And if we're going to have a safe mission to Mars, if we're going to be able to repair a heart damage, et cetera, these are all technologies that are key. So my message is to look at Martian exploration holistically, that we need LEO operations, we need the ISS, we need Gateway, we need surface operations. This is how we're going to be successful as we go to Mars. A couple of other technologies just to mention, we had cameras on the CLPS mission, the Intuitive machine mission for hazard avoidance, and also with NASA, we're working a very innovative program called Mason where we're looking to take regolith and create berms, roads, even structures on the moon. Again, key technologies if we're going to be successful on Mars. And as I began with the Artemis Accords, let me close with the Artemis Accords. Again, we want a better future in space for all of humanity. And if we continue to lean into our values, support norms of behavior such as peaceful cooperation, interoperability, avoiding debris, full release of scientific data, then we can have a future that's going to be much more Star Trek and much less Star Wars.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Mike. Live long and prosper. I'm with you there. A wonderful introduction to why this is so important. We all know though that hiccups take place. Challenges come along periodically. We talked a little bit about one of them yesterday that has just surfaced in the last few weeks and that's Mars sample-return, which is now beginning this new process of being reconsidered. And of course, ESA has always been a big part of that effort, Didier. Using that not really to talk specifically as much about Mars sample-return, but about how these things, when they surface are handled across an international collaboration. Rebekah, I'll look to you. That has to add some challenge.

Rebekah Davis Reed: Well, I think anytime you do something hard like spaceflight and complex like these missions, we don't expect them to go perfectly, which is part of the reason why we build frameworks for collaboration so that when problems arise, we're able to work with our partners and try to figure out what the next steps are. And ultimately, as Mike said, the goal is not just to get there, but to get there together. So we do what we can, we figure it out. It's not easy, but if it was easy, I don't think it would be quite as exciting as it is.

Mat Kaplan: Space is hard. Didier?

Rebekah Davis Reed: Space is hard.

Didier Schmitt: Yeah. I mean ESA, the strength of ESA is it's 22 member states, and we have this tri-annual meetings at administerial level to get the funding for the three next years and beyond. Therefore, when you start a project, when you have 22 countries breathing in my neck, if I can say so, every day you have to be very, very sharp so to say. And you construct the future with them. Once it's done, it is a stable big boat going ahead. So unlike in the US, where you have more an annual process and Congress can change mind and others as well. So you have one partner which is relatively stable, and the other partner which can have ups and downs, if I put it simply. Yeah. Therefore, the issue of course is therefore these interfaces. And I come back to the point I made just before, we provide the Earth Return Orbiter and on this is a US-provided system to catch and grab and release and so on, samples. So we went ahead and therefore the interfaces, we had to be a little bit ahead and get some interfaces and that we have run into this kind of problem. There are other problems, of course. So again, in the future we have to think about an end-to-end part of a bigger program where every partner is really in charge end-to-end. I think the pressurized rover is a very nice example. Japan did an excellent job in foreseeing the sweet spots, so to say and to say, I'm doing it, I'm doing it, and I will be in charge. Of course, NASA will be lending it. So I think this is a very nice example of how we should do things. If you complexify it too much, we can only look for problems. We can afford problems now, so to say, in the Moon to Mars objective, but we can't afford these kind of problems once we will really start to have a human mission to Mars because that multiplies by effect to 10 the complexity.

Mike Gold: The fact that it's hard is why it's worth doing. The beauty of space is that it's so difficult, so challenging that it forces us to come together as humanity to be able to conquer and succeed with these problems. And if you look at the Artemis program, I appreciate you mentioning that as a partner, that's been a little bit up and down. If you look at human spaceflight beyond Low Earth Orbit at NASA, failure hasn't just been an option. It's been a historical certainty that we have failed to sustain a human spaceflight program beyond LEO since Apollo. And that is why the Artemis program was designed to overcome that challenge. That it was bipartisan. And more importantly, and this is why I was brought to NASA, it had to be international. The international aspect not only benefits in terms of capabilities and finance, but sustainability, it creates the partnerships that creates the political longevity for the program and that's why it's going to be successful. And in terms of problems with Mars sample-return, I can tell you as the private sector representative on the panel, we don't have challenges. We just have opportunities. And I believe that as we've already seen with NASA soliciting ideas for commercial participation, how can we leverage what we've done in the CLPS program, that we will actually come out of this with a more innovative, with a better program that we began initially.

Mat Kaplan: "We do these things not because they're easy, but because they're hard." Said JFK.

Mike Gold: Well said.

Mat Kaplan: Beyond Artemis, it's hard to think of a mission like a planetary science mission in deep space that is not an international collaboration at some level. So I think about MMX, the Mars, Moons Explorer, a sample-return mission-

Masami Onoda: Yes.

Mat Kaplan: ... which has a great deal of international cooperation.

Masami Onoda: Yes, it does have. It's a mouthful, really, of international partners. And also at the beginning I was as an international relations person, almost worried that we have too many. But no, this is very, very good. I've never seen the amount of attention like I presented in my presentation all because of international cooperation. I've never seen this amount of international integration and cooperation that we've been working on in the past years. We've had the ISS. We've had COPUOS. We'd had what, COs, GO, all of this gap analysis and all of this. But I think we've over the decades, learned a lot how to integrate our program planning together, and I think we've reached one sort of way to make all of this happen with the architecture and Artemis. And like Mike said, I can only see opportunities ahead.

Mat Kaplan: Adnan, I think of the Hope mission as well, which became a partnership between the UAE and in particular a school in the United States that became a real partner in the UAE and I think helped to ensure the success of that mission.

Adnan Al-Rais: Absolutely. I mean, the Hope mission, also other missions are great examples of that element of international collaboration. We work on that, the mission with three main universities in the United States and also the industries here and with NASA as well, as well as international science community to achieve that common goal, to send the mission and study the Martian atmosphere. We had a successful mission, still operational and collecting more science data that's available to the international science community through our science data center. The same philosophy applied in all of our programs and missions. When it comes to the Mars 2117 program, our 100 years strategy to send human to Mars and building a settlement on Mars, and the reasons to 2117 because it was launched in 2017. So when we started working on that program development and test strategy for implementation, we looked into the global exploration roadmap. We looked into the moon to Mars architecture and the work that's happening internationally. We linked that with our own strategy and own plans and accordingly, we defined the gaps there in terms of the science and technologies and the global exploration roadmap, linked that with our strategy. And accordingly, we develop multiple programs and multiple missions starting from the lunar exploration program and development of the missions to the surface of the moon, which we launched the first robotic mission last year, and now we're developing the second and third missions. And all those missions had science and instruments and experiments from the international community. We branched out into the human life sciences. So it's not only the robotics and the engineering elements important, but also the human element together. What they do is sending human to Mars and we need to be able to develop the science that will and technology enable us to sustain long journey. So we started our life sciences program, developed the analog programs possibly in the first eight months of total isolation confinement mission. And Friday we're going to have the first MRT participating on hero mission, the analog mission with the team at Johnson Space Center. For the first time, there's a crew member from UAE participating that 45 days of isolation confinement as well as we have science and experiments coming from the UAE researchers and students and scientists integrated into that mission. Beyond that, we have the Gateway and being part of the Gateway and providing the airlock module. So all those, and we have many, many more examples on how we work internationally with our partners here in the US, in Europe, in Japan, around the world. In all our missions, we look for opportunities for where we can work together, we can host payloads or develop capabilities together. Because at the end of the day, when we're developing the architecture, every nation should contribute in a way or another. Whether you're a small nation or big nation, you have to be part of that. The UAE is taking this seriously by having the 2117 as a commitment that we're going to continue investing in science and technologies. And we're going to do that collaboratively with everyone.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: We'll be right back after the short break.

LeVar Burton: Hi y'all. LeVar Burton here. Through my roles on Star Trek and Reading Rainbow, I have seen generations of curious minds inspired by the strange new worlds explored in books and on television. I know how important it is to encourage that curiosity in a young explorer's life, and that's why I'm excited to share with you a new program from my friends at The Planetary Society. It's called the Planetary Academy, and anyone can join. Designed for ages five through nine by Bill Nye and the curriculum experts at The Planetary Society, the Planetary Academy is a special membership subscription for kids and families who love space. Members get quarterly mailed packages that take them on learning adventures through the many worlds of our Solar System and beyond. Each package includes images and factoids, hands-on activities, experiments and games and special surprises. A lifelong passion for space science and discovery starts when we're young. Give the gift of the cosmos to the explorer in your life.

Mat Kaplan: Rebekah, the nations behind those 39 and counting flags that we saw, some of those nations are not as active or as prominent as accomplished in their space activities as the ones that we see represented here. And I wonder as they come into the Artemis Accords, what's in it for those small nations that have fledgling space programs, if they have one at all?

Rebekah Davis Reed: So I'm going to give you a short answer, and then I'm going to kick it over to Mike to give you the longer answer. But as we heard even from our well-established partners that are on this stage, there's a wide range of ways that you can participate in the missions, and it's everything from building something as big as a pressurized rover to sending a science experiment on a Hera. It's not all in space. We also have a lot of opportunities to cooperate in terrestrial research. So you don't have to come with a rover or a lander. There's a lot of ways to be a part of this really extraordinary undertaking that we as a global community are doing to go back into space.

Mike Gold: Well said, Rebekah. The countries that don't have space agencies and are taking their first steps into this brave new world are the ones that I'm most excited about. Again, the Accords were designed to be the broadest and most diverse globular spacelight coalition and history. And in some ways, the Accords were reaction to the IGA and the ISS. While obviously the ISS has been a tremendous engine for international cooperation, hundreds of experiments with hundreds of different countries. And sorry, I'm a recovering attorney, so now I'm going to talk about the IGA, which is the intergovernmental agreement, which is the document that runs the ISS. There's a few countries that are involved, Japan, US, ESA, among them that are part of the IGA. And it's very difficult, if not, impossible for other countries to join the IGA. And therefore, with the Artemis Accords, we wanted to create a paradigm that no matter how wealthy the country was or how developed it was, for Emirates, say airlock, or with Japan, the rover, and I drove a Toyota today to just show my support to Masami, that no matter how large or wealthy or how small or modest that there's a place for you in the Artemis program. And even if it's a couple of grad students in Ecuador or Bahrain that's contributing, looking at data, that's important. That's a start. And that's spreading the benefits of space throughout the world, which is what the intent of the Artemis Accords is.

Adnan Al-Rais: Absolutely. I think it's important that we always consider the other nations that they don't have speech programs or activities to be part of your programs, and this is something that we are considering as well. And we did that when it comes to the lunar exploration program, for example, the first rover, we had one idea, which we took samples from different nations from different scientists through a call that went out. But we took those samples, we put them on the wheels, between the grousers of the four wheels that we had on our rover, taking it to the surface of the moon and using the instruments that we had on the rover to study that interaction between the samples and the lunar regolith and provide that science and data to them. Unfortunately, the landing was not successful. We are there, but in 10,000 pieces, but we're going to do that again on the second rover and the third rover. It's an opportunity. It's a very simple, straightforward experiment and it's an opportunities for everyone. You don't need to be a well-developed nation in the space in order to be part of that experiment. We have also other programs which we call the Payload Hosting Initiative, which we develop every year a small mission and in collaboration with the United Nations, the COPUOS, the Office for Outer Space. We launched this program every year and opened the opportunities for other nations to propose their payloads, their science, their instruments, and host it in our satellite and launch that every year. I think it's important that even for us, [inaudible 00:32:38] be new in the space and developing as well our capabilities and programs. I think it's always important to consider also other nations within your region and also internationally to provide them opportunities to be part of the space programs.

Didier Schmitt: Usually the way we work is let's say at working level, we have ideas and we confront them and so on. And then we have technical interchange meetings at the end. We do memorandum of understandings. Once we are stabilized in what we want to do, maybe we can also revert it. And a little bit like the Accords, make a kind of agreement well before on who should or can provide what. It's a little bit what has been done with the Japanese Rover. They hadn't done a phase even when they started saying, we will do this and NASA accepted. So by taking this example, I think again, we have to work together on a human to Mars architecture together. And then we have to see who could provide what well in advance and then sign a kind of agreement because we have to do these kind of things. It's not just the word that counts. And then we go ahead. So maybe there is something also to be done differently in the future and not just waiting, so to say, until we know exactly what we do and then we do an agreement.

Rebekah Davis Reed: That's exactly what we're trying to do. So thank you for setting up that great thing. But with the architecture, it allows both large established countries and smaller countries that have nice and space capabilities to look well into our long-term plans and see where they can fit in and where their own industry, where their own interests align with the architecture. And so our process now is to create study agreements, which basically do just what you said, Didier. They allow us to have these conversations with countries that think they might want to play a role. And we've seen more and more something that I find very exciting, which is some of the countries that don't have an established space program but want to participate are working with their industry to come up with ideas that the government can then partner with us to implement. And sometimes mapping the things that are interesting to them, to what we need in the architecture in a way that allows us to have very long-term forward-looking conversations without having the burdensome, like very large MOU or IGA type of legal framework that needs to be put in place. And I find that very exciting and not just because it allows us to cooperate with new partners, but as Mike said, when we have problems, the great part about that is it allows us to innovate. And as you've heard for the last day and a half, what got us to LEO is not going to get us back to the moon, is not going to get us to Mars. And bringing new voices into those conversations allows us to innovate in ways that we might not have thought of if we were just looking at our own history.

Mike Gold: I think Didier is exactly correct, that we need to be proactive, we need to be intentional particularly about the smaller countries. Again, United Arab Emirates does a great job. You put the united into United-

Rebekah Davis Reed: Yes.

Mike Gold: ... [inaudible 00:35:37] bring the world together. And kudos to Rebekah and your colleagues at NASA that as we've looked at the moon to Mars architecture, you have gone out to the international partners. You have gone out to the private sector as well, even before those goals are defined to get our feedback. And I think that's a bit of a sea change in the term ways that things have been done in the past. And again, I applaud Pamela Melroy and Bill Nelson and everyone at NASA for not only changing the future, but changing it by altering the way we look at talking to our partners first, then coming up with a plan and proceeding for I think the vision that you're articulating, Didier.

Mat Kaplan: So the message is join the party. There's cake.

Mike Gold: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rebekah Davis Reed: Apparently a big cake.

Mat Kaplan: Yes, getting larger every time. We're going to get to questions from out there in the H-to-M audience. So if you want to start lining up with the microphone, you're welcome to do that. It's no secret that there is another collaborative group out there that is looking for partners, not I'd have to say with the success in terms of certainly quantitative success of the Artemis Accords. And I just wonder about thoughts that any of you might have about this other coalition that is hoping to bring nations together to put them on the moon and elsewhere.

Mike Gold: So I think it's an indication of the success of the Accords. Remember that the Accords were intended to be a beginning of a conversation, not an ending. And to the extent that other nations, even those that haven't signed the Accords are talking about how we implement the Outer Space Treaty. The Outer Space Treaty is a wonderful document, the constitution of outer space. But you can't take the Outer Space Treaty and give it to our engineers and say, "Here, do this." We need to take it down level to say, for example, treaty says avoid harmful interference. Well, how do we avoid harmful interference? And that's the safety zone description. We communicate. We are public and transparent relative to where we're doing and what we're going on. And while I certainly hope every country signs the Accords, I think they're excellent, biased of course, but to the extent that other nations are having that dialogue about how do we take the Outer Space Treaty from an idea to practice, that's a win. That's a win for us, and it's a win for the world.

Mat Kaplan: Anyone else want to comment?

Masami Onoda: I also think that we, well, from the beginning of the Artemis Accords, we've been saying that this combination of a web, maybe, of instruments that are non-binding, also legally binding. A good example was our Rover agreement complementing perhaps the non-binding nature of the Artemis Accords, but they do work together. I think all of this happening not just in a part of the world, but also globally, we will see probably an evolution, I think, in the future and see ways to work together.

Mat Kaplan: All right. Let's turn to the audience and you're first up, young man.

Lucas: How does a lack of-

Rebekah Davis Reed: The lack of-

Lucas: ... established nations like Russia and China affect your progress?

Mat Kaplan: Of the Artemis Accord?

Rebekah Davis Reed: Oh, gotcha. Okay. Mike's turn.

Mike Gold: I mean, [inaudible 00:38:52].

Mat Kaplan: There is nobody-

Mike Gold: So and great question-

Rebekah Davis Reed: It's a great question.

Mike Gold: ... by the way. I hate to see what your second question is, because [inaudible 00:39:03] softball early. There's a great deal in the Accords that candidly is a reaction to the way China is or is not probably more accurately doing things. The concept of the full, fair, open and timely release of scientific data is an example of a provision of the Accords that was inserted because we're not seeing China act like that and we want to encourage them to do so. Transparency, which is the very spine of the Artemis Accords is candidly another issue that we have with China, that they're not clear about what they're doing, when they're doing it, how they're doing it. And the hope with the Accords, and I go back to my legal training as an attorney, I believe in precedent. And even if China and Russia haven't signed the Accords or don't sign the Accords, by embracing these values of transparency, openness, freedom of science, we're creating a precedent that puts pressure even on the countries that haven't signed the Accords. So yes, ultimately it would be better if China and Russia would sign the Accords. Even better if they'd actually abide by the Accords. But even if they don't, I believe the Accords are a forcing function. We're showing what good looks like. We're establishing a precedent that has influence not just on the signatories, but even on those two nations that you mentioned that haven't signed.

Didier Schmitt: There is probably another angle to this. I mean here we talk about cooperation, but cooperation without competition doesn't work so well. And look back at the Apollo era, if you are, and we have the Olympics coming up in Paris, if you are the only one in front, you don't run twice to beat your own record. And therefore the competition also with China has a very positive aspect. Without it, I'm not sure we would be as accurate and as fast and as collaborative without competition.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Lucas. I think they were good answers to your tough question. Hi.

Speaker 10: Hey. The Artemis Accords has a lot of elements and things, frameworks from the Outer Space Treaty. Have there been discussions of looking at other treaties, like the Registration agreement or things like the Madrid protocol, for examining how we go forward, engage in deconfliction and engage in cooperative or even just kind of neighborly surface operations on the moon and Mars? Thank you.

Mike Gold: So while the Accords focus on the Outer Space Treaty, because it's the largest and most comprehensive, you also see several other agreements and treaties mentioned throughout the Accords. Just to give an example, the agreement on the rescue of astronauts, that fundamental to the Accords is preventing conflict and preserving life. And the countries that have signed the Accords reinforce their commitment to the agreement on the rescue of astronauts. Whether those astronauts, by the way, come from countries that have signed the Accords or not. And then you look at how that reaffirmation impacts other aspects of the Accords such as interoperability. The more interoperable the systems are, the more likely we're going to be able to support a safe and successful and expeditious rescue mission. So I'd recommend reading the Accords, they're a page-turner. It's a quick read.

Rebekah Davis Reed: [inaudible 00:42:31].

Mike Gold: But you will see mentions of other treaties, the Registration Convention, the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, and the Outer Space Treaty referenced in the Accords. Relative to other treaties, not treaties, but other concepts and agreements that are out there, we stuck with the United Nations treaties because they've been accepted and that's we're going to leverage. But again, a beginning of a conversation, not an ending, that the Accords were meant to inspire dialogue to go to COPUOS, to go to the United Nations, look at what we can do that's binding and what the conversations need to be in the future. The Accords are a catalyst for development.

Masami Onoda: So like Mike said, the different instruments, if you seriously read through the whole document and try to analyze it, there are parts that are already written in those treaties or agreements, legal instruments and those that go a step forward in trying to specify the practical issues that will come as the missions are upon us. And we are what, 50 years since the outer space treaties and the accompanying treaties around that, agreements around that. So we need to pick up these questions about deconfliction or safety zones, how do we decide where to land, how long to stay there, things like that, and all the technical questions that accompany that. So I think the Artemis Accords does spur international discussion on that, whether or not you have signed to it or not. And I think that's the value of Artemis Accords.

Rebekah Davis Reed: And I will say the Artemis Accords are more than just paper. So the Artemis Accords signatories work together on a very regular basis to talk about the issues that are the focus. And I think right now we're working a great deal on non-interference, also interoperability as you said. So these are things that we're trying to create real deliverables that will support global exploration.

Mat Kaplan: Jim Green.

Jim Green: Okay, I love the Artemis Accords. It connects well with the Outer Space Treaty, which I think is one of the reasons why many countries are embracing that. And so the peaceful uses of outer spaces where we can all work together and we need to do the more of those things. And so it's moving in the right direction. Well, on one of those pages is the preservation of heritage sites. I really dearly love that, and it's not just because of the US. There's now many nations that have put things down on the moon that may be considered heritage sites. What is our next step in that? Have we declared what those sites are?

Mat Kaplan: We need a solar system historic landmark registry, I think.

Mike Gold: Or we could just go to UNESCO. It's a great point. By the way, Dr. Jim Green, former chief scientist at NASA, when I was at NASA, we'd go through these meetings where everyone at the agency would have a word, all the Senate directors, et cetera, would take hours. And the reason I would stay on the call was because at the end of it, we would hear from Jim Green and he would talk about the science, the wonder of discovery, and remind us on these calls why we're all doing this in the first place. So let's have a round of applause for Jim and everything that he did for [inaudible 00:45:45].

Mat Kaplan: Enthusiastic applause. And we will hear from Jim later today as part of the H-to-M program.

Mike Gold: Wise to do so.

Mat Kaplan: So how are we going to take care of those landmarks?

Mike Gold: So I will say in the Accords, again, they were intended to be a catalyst for a dialogue, and we could have spent pages defining what a heritage site is. Instead, we chose to note the issue and set the agenda that this is a topic we need to discuss and to move forward with. And I think this is a good example of an idea that should be discussed at the United Nations, that should be discussed in the COPUOS, that should be discussed in other NGOs to provide further definition. So the Accords were a beginning, really table setting for these are the issues that we need to tackle. And there is plenty of work left to be done.

Mat Kaplan: Rebekah, that speaks to that this is a living document, the Accords.

Rebekah Davis Reed: Absolutely. Yeah. As Mike said, this is the beginning of the discussion, not the end. And Masami-san said the same thing, right? This is how we start the discussion. This is how we provide a forum where all of the interested nations can come together because what the US thinks is not the final word. We want to make sure that our partners are presenting their perspective so that as I've said over and over when we go, we don't go alone. And I think the Artemis Accords are a great framework where we can have these difficult discussions about how do you identify the heritage sites? It sounds easy. It's not as you well know. And the same thing with how do you define non-interference? It's incredibly complex because it goes well beyond policy to very specific technical discussions of things like plume interference and lighting and shadows. And it is much more than just a great idea that we sit around and nod at each other and say, it's great. We're collaborating. We really are trying to figure out how to implement that partnership in a meaningful way as we go back to the moon.

Mat Kaplan: We are out of time. Panelists, this has been a wonderful discussion. I come back though, Mike, to your point that the Artemis Accords, perhaps beyond the achievements that it enables in space within the Solar System, is what it may do for all of humanity. And let's hope that someday when the United Federation of Planets comes together, that they look back on the Artemis Accords is one step toward that achievement.

Mike Gold: You've broken the code for the ultimate goal.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you, everyone. Please acknowledge this terrific international panel.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Now let's check in with Dr. Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society for What's Up. Hey, Bruce.

Bruce Betts: Hey, Sarah.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Nice to be back from vacation. How was your time?

Bruce Betts: Hunky-dory, it's well.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, sounds good. Hope you got to play with a lot of dogs.

Bruce Betts: I do, but I get to that every day since they attacked me in the house. But yeah, we had a new dog recently, so we got three now.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Does that mean extra doggo sounds in What's Up going forward?

Bruce Betts: Yes, definitely.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: So this week we've got to share one of Mat Kaplan's adventures to the Humans to Mars Summit. And I've never gotten to go myself. Have you been to the summit before?

Bruce Betts: I've been to summits, but I've never been to the Humans to Mars Summit.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: I'm hoping I get to go one of these days. It always sounds like Mat has such a fun time.

Bruce Betts: Mat has a fun time almost anywhere, especially if they're talking space though. So he's just a fun guy who loves his space.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, we were talking all about international collaboration and what it's going to actually take to get human presence permanently on Mars, but I wanted to ask you, as our chief scientist, what are the actual benefits of having a permanent settlement off of Earth, say, on the moon or even on Mars?

Bruce Betts: Well, part of the benefit is what science you can do. Obviously humans in the loop, whether they're going out and collecting rocks or whether they're just teleoperating things, especially, I mean now at Mars, the time delay is so bad you can't even begin to teleoperate. You can do things autonomously. So you can just get a lot more done, a lot more experience. And then I think there's a big component is just perception and things I'm not an expert in, like sociology and people and psychology, and it's a profound thing to do that. Now, the flip side is it's really hard to do. It's really risky and it costs a ton of money. So definite trade-offs, but if you had all the money and the engineering in the world and worlds, it would be super groovy.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah. I imagine there's a lot of things that we could potentially do with spacecraft on Mars, a lot better if we were actually there because of that time delay. Right now, we have to rely a lot on autonomous systems to navigate and things like that. We're just sitting back here on earth waiting to hear whether or not it landed versus being there in real-time to kind of help navigate those issues.

Bruce Betts: It would still be very tricky for the landing. I don't really see people flying in with a joystick, but I suppose you could have a backup. You can argue early on, you and I, Planetary Society studies in the past that you do people in orbit first, which seems, I don't know that anyone would ever be able to approve something where you go that far and then don't go to the surface. But one of the many hard, dangerous parts of that is trying to get the mass required for humans down to the surface in a thin atmosphere, which would be exceedingly challenging, and then getting off the surface. But if you're there, you can actually do that, throw a bunch of rovers down and have fun joystick and cover a lot more terrain a lot faster, even if you're not down on the surface.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: We just need to work on our drop pod technology, get everyone in orbit and then just Helldivers our way to the surface.

Bruce Betts: Yes, we need to work on our drop pods, whether it be... So you're hell diving and not Halo? Anyway.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: I've done both. Yeah, that is going to be really challenging though. I mean, even just landing a rover, we've gone from basically bubble wrapping a rover to dropping it off of a sky crane, but the system's necessary to sustain even a single human on the way down would be extensive. We've got some issues we've got to sort.

Bruce Betts: No. I mean, that's a huge challenge because Mars, as people probably mostly know, but I will remind is one of the, by far, the hardest places to land on in the Solar System. Because if you have no atmosphere, you can use retro rockets on the way down like the moon. If you have lots of atmosphere like Earth or Venus, you can use parachutes and heat shields and relax on the way down. But if you're Mars and you have a thin atmosphere, you can't come in with retro rockets right off the bat. And it's really hard. There's not enough atmosphere, which is why we always land in some of the lowest places on Mars so far, because it's actually significant to get more atmosphere, to make sure you can actually stop at the end. And the more we add mass, the more it gets challenging and the more they have to come up with these... Well, at least they choose to come up with these wacky techniques that I always predict will fail. And thankfully I'm always wrong, at least for the wacky techniques.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah. We could aim for Valles Marineris, get as much air on the way down.

Bruce Betts: Well, it's true, but it turns out Valles Marineris is on the Tharsis bulge and so there's still not as much atmosphere as if you go out and beyond Valles Marineris, but yes, that would be cool. Valles Marineris is huge. It's deep. It's a really big canyon. Did you know?

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Did you know? I would love to go see that. I would love to see some little helicopters flying in there to go check that place out. Just imagine the layers of Martian history that are just written in that rock record all the way down that canyon.

Bruce Betts: Yeah. I've stared at them from orbital stuff and there's a lot of Mars history there and a lot of challenge to get down to the surface.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: That's awesome. Well, all right, what is our random space fact this week?

Speaker 13: This has been amazing. This [inaudible 00:54:09]-

Bruce Betts: [inaudible 00:54:13]. This Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 it is, but that's not relevant to our space factor. We're talking surface area. The surface area of earth is approximately, very approximately equal to the surface area of Venus plus the surface area of the moon.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Huh?

Bruce Betts: So Venus, a little bit smaller than the earth. What's the difference in surface area? About the Earth's moon.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: About one moon.

Bruce Betts: There you go.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: That's actually really cool.

Bruce Betts: All right. Everybody go out there, look up the night sky and think about what it would be like to watch a racetrack on Mars. Thank you and good night.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: We've reached the end of this week's episode of Planetary Radio, but we'll be back next week with more space sides and exploration. If you love the show, you can get Planetary Radio t-shirts at, along with lots of other cool spacey merchandise. Help others discover the passion, beauty, and joy of space science and exploration by leaving a review and a rating on platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Your feedback not only brightens our day, but helps other curious minds find their place in space through Planetary Radio. You can also send us your space, thoughts, questions, and poetry at our email at [email protected]. Or if you're a Planetary Society member, leave a comment in the Planetary Radio space in our member community app. Planetary Radio is produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California and is made possible by our members from all around the world. You can join us and help build a bright future for exploration on the moon and Mars at Mark Hilverda and Rae Paoletta are our associate producers. Andrew Lucas is our audio editor. Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. And until next week. Ad astra.