A Private Initiative to Send Humans to Mars

by Adriano Autino

The Founding Convention will be held 13-16 August 1998, at the Campus of the Boulder University, Colorado. The new-born is the Mars Society, a private initiative for the human exploration of Mars. Mars Society is promoted by a group of scientists, astronauts, science fiction writers, which includes Prof. Greg Benford, Astrophisic, author of romances like Timescape and Martian Odissey; Mike Griffin, , former NASA Associate Administrator for exploration, John Connolly, NASA Johnson Space Center; Lt. Col. Scott Horowitz, NASA Astronaut; Dr. Robert Zubrin, Astronautics Pioneer, authore of “The Case for Mars”.

From the web message of Robert Zubrin, leader of the enterprise: “Mars is the new frontier. The only world aside from Earth in our solar system with sufficient resources to support life and, someday, a new branch of human civilization, the Red Planet poses the central challenge faced by our era of history. Humanity: Do you have what it takes to leave your cradle Earth to become a multi-planet species? It is now clear that millions of people around the world are ready and willing to answer this challenge in the affirmative. On July 4, 1997, when NASA's Pathfinder probe landed on Mars, there were 100 million hits on the mission web site. That is more than the number of people who vote in the United States in a presidential election! It is more than the total number of Americans actively for or against abortion, gun control, nationalized health care, or a balanced budget, combined. Since the landing there have 700 million more hits. Even assuming a significant repeat rate, the number is simply phenomenal. Yet despite this massive demonstration of support for Mars exploration, the politicians in charge and their consultants and astrologers, appear deaf to the call, providing virtually no government funding to prepare the way for human Mars exploration.”

Comforted also by the high number of messages and letters he got after the issue of his book “The case for Mars”, Robert Zubrin decided to promote a private initiative, with the aim to raise funds, initially for robotic missions of wide, systematic, exploration of the Red Planet. Among the precedents, Robert speaks about Jacques Cousteau, that used the same method to finance many ambitious undersea exploration missions.

Mars Society is looking for support and subcriptions in the whole world. Technologies of the Frontier proposes to immediately form a supporter group in Italy and in Europe!



A campaign of the Mars Society saves the Mars missions in USA

L. Spairani


It is possible to be proactive  in  the research field when individuals group themselves in organisations that share the same scientific interests. This happens at least in United States.

As a result of tandem mobilizations by the Mars Society and the Planetary Society, the Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Committee voted June 11 to restore $20 million to support the NASA's 2001 robotic Mars lander mission. In two weeks, these Societies had been mobilizing its membership to send e-mails or postcard to Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Committee Chairman, Kit Bond, as well as other congressional and administration officials demanding funds. The $20 million restored to the mission is still not enough but it represents a turning of the tide.
The campaign of sensibilisation was based on a simple but lapidary message included in the body of the mail:

"Save the robotic Mars exploration program.
Start the human exploration program."

For details on Mars Society see:  http://www.marssociety.org.

This society believes the opening of Mars to humanity and the ensuing creation of a new branch of human civilization should be done by all of humanity. Mars exploration should not be driven by  Americans only . For istance the Pathfinder mission costed $175 million and this cost is affordable for many nations. The first step for an exploration globalisation could be the opening of Mars Society chapters in every country.

The Mars Society Founding Convention will occur at the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, August 13-16, 1998.  For further information about the conference, see the Mars Society web site at www.nw.net/mars. The team that found evidence for past life on Mars in  meteorite ALH84001,  will present the team's latest findings and also  a rebuttal to several criticisms that have recently been raised of the team's conclusion that the most likely explanation for the phenomenon in ALH84001 is life. I. It could be historic.

In order to stimulate useful activity among young people, the Mars Society has announced that it will award the"Hakluyt Prize" for the best letter or group of letters written by a student to world political leaders making the case for initiating a humans-to-Marsprogram.  To be eligible, contestants must be students   between the ages of 12 and 22. All letters to be considered must be sent either via stamped mail and/or e-mail to relevant world leaders, such as Presidents, Prime Ministers, Science Ministers, Space Agency Administrators, and elected representatives. Copies of the letter with a list of the addresses to which it was sent should be forwarded to mzubrin@aol.com , or via stamped mail to Hakluyt Prize, Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills, CO80454 USA. An English translation should be provided for letters written in a language other than English. The name assigned to the prize reflets the wishes that the history can be replicated. The Hakluyt Prize is named after Richard Hakluyt, the brilliant pamphleteer, whose writings, addressed to Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh,  and other influentials in Tudor England convinced that country's power elite to make the policy decisions that led to the establishment of the first British colonies in North America. Any evaluation for the real influence of these pamphlets on  human destinies  is useless; the question if this influence could be considered positively or not, is a non-sense as well.

Even The European Space Agency's (ESA) has planned a Mars mission but the Mars Express mission appears to be at risk.  ESA is now debating whether to fund the mission, which would fly both an orbiter and a lander to Mars in 2003 at an expected combined cost to ESA of $165 million. The ESA Science Program Committee,, is expected to make its decision by November. The Mars Express orbiter and lander are important scientific spacecraft supporting the search for water and life on Mars. In addition, the orbiter is needed to provide a communication link to support a possible NASA or NASA/French Mars Sample Return mission in 2005.Europeans and others who want to make sure that Europe's first Mars exploration mission is not aborted again need to speak up. ESA has more than enough money to fly Mars Express; it just needs to give it priority. Send e-mails expressing your concern to:

Antonio Rodota- Director General European Space Agency arodota@hq.esa.fr
Roger Bonnet- Director of scientific Programs, ESA rbonnet@hq.esa.fr
John Credland - Head Science Projects Department, ESA jcredland@ewo.esa.int
Jane Mellors ESA US Office jmellors@ewo.esa.int

An historical analysis of human conquests points out that new explorations happened always in correspondence with quite better economical situations combined with a longer human life in average. The current situation assures a longer human life and this fact allows to conceive interplanetary travels, on the other hand the economical situation, that is not stable, but rich of turmoil’s, offers new opportunities as well as threats to stability. Perhaps there are the right prerequisites to start and develop a program for interplanetary exploration.



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