- Mars Date/Time: Year 1, Sur Two, Sunday, Sol 11 (001.2.11) 08:29 NST
- Earth Date/Time: Tuesday, 15 March 2016 2:00 PM PDT
- Distance traveled: 65,789,352 kilometers Time Delay: 3 mins 12 secs
- Distance to Mars Rendezvous: 326,620,400 kilometers
She is among a select group of people. As we speak, she is traveling faster than any human has traveled, and she and her crew are now farther away from Earth than any human has in history. She is leading an expedition to the fourth planet in our solar system, and upon arrival will establish our first human colony on Mars.
She has degrees in engineering and psychology, and a master’s in social psychology. She served ten years in the Royal Navy and then joined the Earth Space Exploration Program, or ESEP in 2010. She advanced at ESEP into commanding the first mission to Mars, and now has taken over the top job in the organization, and…AND, she is leading both the mission and the organization concurrently. In addition, she will become Governor of Mars once the first crop is planted in Martian soil.
Please welcome Jenna Wade.
First, our condolences to you and the organization for the recent loss of your Director, Nick Castillo, and the rest of the ESEP people on the plane that went down in the North Atlantic. How do you recover from that kind of tragedy?
I’m not sure anyone can fully recover. We cope, we adjust, and we move on. Director Castillo was a very dear person who was able to see through the issues and problems and create an environment for everyone to succeed. He will be missed.
There were problems at ESEP when the news arrived that the plane was missing. How did you find out and what happened at ESEP?
I didn’t find out for over twelve hours. There was a power struggle in the organization that Director Castillo had dealt with, but upon his death, a person who disagreed with the Director’s decision fell into a key role after the news broke, and he decided to take advantage of the situation.
It took you several hours to regain control of ESEP, and as I understand it, your crew was largely responsible in that effort. How did you accomplish it?
We were able to take back control of the main computer at ESEP. Paige Flores, on our crew, isolated the ESEP administration and then shut them out. Once that happened the people involved were powerless.
After the incident you were made interim Director, and now you are the permanent Director. How did that happen?
I have to admit I didn’t think this through. I assumed that once we had taken back control, I would turn over control to the leadership of ESEP, but what we realized was that we had a leadership vacuum with the loss of Director Castillo and the other administrators. There was no one to give control back to, so I became temporary Director. The member countries did not want to risk destabilizing the organization again, so they asked me to be the Interim Director. At that time we were all operating under the assumptions that a new Director would be named. Within a few days I was approached about taking on the Directorship permanently, and I was backed into a corner by several different people. It made logical sense, I just wasn’t convinced I was the person for the job.
I like to change the subject. For decades there has been discussion of sending humans to Mars. Now, this summer we will have 28 people arriving at Mars. Why is this possible now, and why isn’t NASA, SpaceX, or the European Space Agency doing it?
That’s a great question. I think the reason we are on our way to Mars is largely thanks to operating under a different paradigm. Up to now the assumption had been that any mission to Mars would be governed by the Hohmann Transfer, which assumes a slow, but very fuel-efficient method of getting to Mars. The problem is that it takes eight months under ideal orbital conditions and there is only one window of opportunity every two years. ESEP adopted a modified pulse drive that has been known since the beginning of the space age, but had not been accepted by the scientific community as a viable option, largely due to the idea that a pulse drive is unworkable to get from surface to orbit. Once in space, the pulse drive is a very workable drive system for moving large masses in relatively short time frames.
As for why ESEP is doing it as opposed to others, my opinion is that NASA became too political and lost all of its support to do anything but wade near the shores of space. The European Space Agency attempted to be smaller version of NASA and became to political. As for SpaceX and all other commercial operations, they can’t succeed because the exploration of space is not profitable for a handful of investors.
What will our presence on Mars look like?
Our first landing will be relatively small. It will be one ship and five people. They will take about three days to do a site survey. Once they have confirmed the site, they will map out the landing sites for the next several ships and place an electronic marker guide for each ship. Within two weeks the site will be established as our Command Center, and at this point, it looks like we will have an ESEP Administrative Center up and running within three weeks.
At the same time, our Science Director, Lanny Deaton, will be heading up the exploration team. Initially that was to be six people; however, now we are looking to double that within a month after landing. Food, water, and oxygen production are the highest priority for the Science and Engineering teams; however, we have to have a detailed analysis of nearby resources to know what Mars has available.
The Engineering team is tasked with creating a small village in a short period of time, followed by expansion to about one hundred people by the end of 2016. They will have to create power systems, habitats, and air and water processing systems. By the end of 2017, we will have two small cities and four remote stations on Mars.
In addition, Mars Prime, our orbiting spaceport, will become the cargo and personnel center for Mars. Almost everything and everyone will be processed through Earth Prime before going to the surface.
I want to go back to something you said. You said that commercial operations can’t succeed because it’s not profitable?
Yes. We learned in the 1960’s that space exploration creates jobs and technologies, but not profit. Space is great for the economy, but the business model of making money is not viable in an exploration environment. Business and space exploration are incompatible, and we can see that in the fact that NASA is basically a defunct space organization since it has been turned over to the private sector. SpaceX is essentially trying to reinvent the same technology of the 1970’s, and is merely adding a few new tricks such as landing reusable boosters that contribute nothing to space exploration. Eventually, investors will grow weary of waiting for a financial return that will depend on NASA buying SpaceX systems, which NASA could have done on their own if they were still a viable space program.
I should explain that because of the time delay between Earth and the ESS Sagan, Director Wade is receiving a series of questions, and I don’t hear her response for over three minutes, therefore if I have a followup question it will be over six minutes after her response. We’ll take a break.