If you’re a space travel enthusiast who regularly visits the relevant sites, you might have heard by now that the Mars Society is hosting its annual convention in Houston on August 7-10. This is going to be one of the interesting conventions, as things are actually beginning to get rolling on the Mars front, and I don’t just mean another rover like Curiosity even though Mars One is going to be launching a “rover on steroids” in 2018. This is the year in which manned Mars missions that include the Mars One plan and Inspiration Mars are starting to get serious attention from major mainstream media when they aren’t reporting about planes that went missing or got shot down.
A Few Highlights from 2013
Asteroid Return Mission Debate (feat. Robert Zubrin)
Mars Arctic 365 Panel
Inspiration Mars (feat. Dennis Tito)
The speakers are going to be a high-powered bunch. Confirmed speakers include big names in the aerospace world. The below is a partial list of speakers; you can see more of the major speakers and the schedule on the Mars Society website:
- William Borucki, a space scientist who works in the Astrobiology and Space Research Directorate of NASA’s Ames Research Center and led the design and operation of the Kepler space telescope.
- Dr. Patricia Craig, a participant in NASA’s postdoctoral fellowship program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She is part of a team led by Dr. Doug Ming that studies the formation of sulfates through the acid-weathering of phyllosilicates on Mars. These studies will help us understand the geological and aqueous history of Mars.
- Mark S. Geyer, who currently works as the Program Manager for NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MCPV) since 2007 and previously served as manager of the International Space Station Program Integration Office.
- Everett Gibson, a Senior Scientist and Geochemist in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Sciences Office at NASA JSC. In 1979, his team discovered a “Rosetta like-stone” meteorite that originated on Mars during an Arctic expedition.
- Mike Griffin, the former NASA administrator who presided over the Space Shuttle’s return to flight after the Columbia disaster, the rescue of the Hubble Space Telescope, and oversaw the implementation of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Phoenix missions.
- Scott Hubbard has worked for NASA for 20 years, including serving as director of NASA’s Ames Research Center. His work for NASA including getting the Mars program back on track after several mission failures.
- Bas Lansdorp, the CEO and co-founder of Mars One, which was founded with the goal of sending people to Mars to form the first settlement on another planet. As an entrepreneur and engineer, his past work included the formation of Ampex Power, which researches new methods of creating airborne wind energy.
- Dennis Tito is best known for being the first “space tourist,” having paid to visit the International Space Station in 2001. He founded Inspiration Mars with the goal of sending two people on a free-return trip between Earth and Mars in 2018.
- Robert Zubrin is the founder and president of the Mars Society and has authored several books including The Case for Mars and How To Live On Mars. His advocacy for manned missions to Mars includes testifying before several congressional panels on the subject.
- Lennart Lopin is one of several speakers on the topic of Politics, Finances, Outreach and Culture. He will give a presentation on cryptocurrencies including Marscoin, which has already made donations to Mars One and the Mars Society.
Interesting highlights of this year’s Mars One convention will include a debate between Robert Zubrin and retired shuttle astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz on the topic, “Is Electric Propulsion an Enabling Technology for Mars Exploration?” along with several panels including one that features several Mars One candidates. With a series of talks involving the philosophical aspects of a trip to Mars that includes a presentation by Mihail Makeev titled “The Limits of the Human Domain from a Christian Perspective,” it’s obvious that the convention will be focused on more than just the “How?” of a Mars mission. It will cover some of the “Why?” as well.
I won’t be able to personally be there due to finances, but if I can, I will catch it on streaming video and report as much as I can on this site. So stay tuned for more from the Mars Society Convention.