2016, crisis, death, JPL, losing a crew member, loss, Mars, Mars Mission 2016, memorial, NASA, space, space travel, spacecraft
- Mars Date/Time: Year 1, Sur One, Sol 14 (1.1.14) 10:40 PM NST
- Earth Date/Time: 17 January 2016 2:00 PM PST
There were 27 people on the nine Apollo missions that went to Moon. We will exceed that total in our first mission to Mars. The total time for all the Apollo Moon missions was 91 days. The crew of the ESS Carl Sagan won’t even reach Mars in that time. The Apollo missions were all considered high risk, and one mission to the Moon almost lost three crew members. Our missions elevate that risk by a factor of ten.
We will do everything in our power to prevent anyone dying in space; however, with crews of 28 astronauts or more, most of whom will be in space for over two years, death is a real possibility. All crew members know that losing a fellow astronaut is part of the risk of space travel and like every other potential crisis, we plan for the possibility.
If a crew member dies in mission and their body is recoverable, the body will be cremated. Each crew member has declared what they wish to be done with their ashes, and every effort will be made to honor their request. The Counselor and Captain will designate someone to collect the personal items of that crew member and pack it for return to Earth.
Assuming the mission is not in a crisis, the crew members will be follow a ‘significant loss’ protocol (also used for crew members before and after their crewmates return to Earth) that involves formal and informal discussion, remembrance , and ceremony of that crew member or members.
All crew members who had a significant relationship with the deceased crew member(s) will have counseling and evaluation. If the loss is too difficult for a crew member they will be reassigned and/or scheduled for return.
There is no way to know how much the loss of a crew member(s) will impact a mission; however, the Captain and Counselor have broad authority to make adjustments and reassignments after the loss of crew.