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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Sol 19 (1.1.19)  7:29 PM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  22 January 2016  2:00 PM PST

It is Rocket Science, so you would expect that the Earth Space Exploration Program (ESEP) would have really smart people…and we do.

But that isn’t enough. Many of the hundreds of thousands of people who work for and with ESEP have advanced degrees, but in an endeavor that has never been done before you have to have people who go beyond smart. As the program has grown ESEP has sought out people who were leaders in their field, but not all of them are still with the program.

Werner Von Braun Prez Kennedy

Dr. Werner von Braun with President Kennedy (credit:  Space.com)

When the United States was designing ships to go to the Moon, Dr. Werner von Braun, the most experienced rocket scientist at the time, ridiculed an engineer that proposed building a separate ship (the Lunar Excursion Module or LEM) that only landed on the Moon and then brought the astronauts back to the main ship (the Command Module.) In the end von Braun realized he was wrong and accepted the engineer’s plan as the best, and possibly only workable concept.

In space, nothing is straightforward or easy. People have to have the ability to do more than just the math. People have to apply skills that they don’t have and see a larger viewpoint than just the problem they’re trying to solve.

Everyone on the crew has spent time in other positions with ESEP. As the ship came together, so did the people who would be crew members. Often the person selected to be on the crew was also the person who was integrally involved with planning, designing, or building the function of the ship that they will responsible for on the mission. The 28 crew members are the best of the best and know more about the history of every part of the ship than almost anyone else.

These people didn’t just learn how to take tests in school, they learned to question, to examine, and rethink any problem. In many ways they are not ‘good employees’ that follow instructions, because they often possess more information about their part of the ship than their superiors. They are creative monsters of thinking and we wouldn’t be going to Mars without them.