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#1 2002-05-10 10:48:48

Peter Pevensie
Member
From: Terceira Island, Azores, Portu
Registered: 2002-05-03
Posts: 39

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

There are no shortage of opinions out there regarding the nominal size and composition of the first crew to visit Mars.  I'm interested in [i:post_uid1]your[/i:post_uid1] opinions...especially if they're well informed and thought out. wink

Some important questions here...
-- How many crew?
-- How important is it that they have previous spaceflight experience?
-- What scientific disciplines should be represented?
-- In what proportion should the genders be represented?
-- Should an attempt be made to represent nationalities/races/ethnicities evenly?
-- What about religion, for that matter?
-- Should any portion of the crew should be military?
-- What should the "chain of command" look like?  Should there be one at all?

And finally, a related question...who should make all these decisions and choose the final crew?  (That's assuming that the powers that be don't ask [i:post_uid1]us[/i:post_uid1] to do it. big_smile )

I'm interested in any thoughts you have...


"When I think about everything we've been through together, maybe it's not the destination that matters. Maybe it's the journey..."

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#2 2002-05-10 11:59:43

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

I think I would answer these questions in different ways depending on the agreed goal or objective of the mission.

In other words, why is the mission being sent to Mars at all?

Pure science? Prelude to settlement? Adventure? Patriotism and/or national prestige? Media rights and publicity?

How "pure" must these various motives be?

Who is funding the mission and do mission planners owe any moral duties to the funding source?

Will the "Golden Rule" apply, meaning those who write the golden checks also write the rules?

Will a first mission be closely followed by a 2nd or a 3rd mission or is this mission our only shot at Mars for maybe another century or longer?

Is research into - and field testing of - technologies needed for permanent settlement a "mission critical" objective or a misguided waste of scarce scientific focus?

IMHO, how we answer these questions - whether knowingly or by making unconscious assumptions - will greatly influence crew selection criteria and the priority assigned various tasks and research actually done on Mars.

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#3 2002-05-10 17:44:07

Adrian
Moderator
From: London, United Kingdom
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 642
Website

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

Bill raises a highly pertinent point in his post, in saying, 'In other words, why is the mission being sent to Mars at all?'

I believe that along with answering this question - which of course may not have any single answer - we must also consider what is [i:post_uid0]needed[/i:post_uid0] for a mission to Mars. By this, I mean, what are the absolute basic human requirements for such a mission to work?

If you want to go to the Moon, you don't need any scientists. You really just need a pilot. Ditto for Mars. If all you are planning to go to Mars for is flag and footprings, you might as well just send a pilot. Everything else is secondary.

But returning to Bill's original point, I don't think we can consider every single angle of why a mission is being sent to Mars and all that that entails. We can only consider the most likely scenarios, which might (for example) fall into scientific, expanionist, military or political categories.


Editor of New Mars

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#4 2002-05-10 19:58:55

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

Peter brings up a good point about the people who choose the crew.  Above all, we have to make sure the crew is psychologically balanced enough to survive two years of extreme deprivation.  Sure, they'll likely have little things to entertain themselves with, but so did the Russian scientists who hacked each other to death over a chess game in the Antartic winter.  And Mars, and the trip there, is going to be a lot longer than a mere Antartic winter. 

   As for genders, I think both genders should be on the crew, along with a copious amount of birth control pills.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#5 2002-05-11 04:27:25

Peter Pevensie
Member
From: Terceira Island, Azores, Portu
Registered: 2002-05-03
Posts: 39

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

All good questions, [b:post_uid0]Bill[/b:post_uid0], and all of which will impact crew composition.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that this first mission is part of an open-ended program to construct a small, continuously manned scientific outpost on the Martian surface.  The primary goal [i:post_uid0]of the program[/i:post_uid0] is to determine to within a reasonable level of certainty if Mars currently supports or has at any time in the past supported life.  Secondary to this is the goal of research into and "field testing" of technologies that will allow a "colonization" of Mars (or other bodies) at some point in the mid- to far-term future, should no indiginous life be discovered.  [i:post_uid0]This first mission[/i:post_uid0] will establish a "beachhead" on Mars by delivering the initial infrastructure of the outpost, and will begin the primary and secondary research programs.  It is important to note that none of the first crew will be left on the Martian surface when this first mission is complete; sufficient infrastructure to support continuous manning will not be delivered until the second mission.

A large percentage -- roughly two thirds -- of the funding for our mission is provided by national governments.  The other third is split evenly between private industry and an international consortium of private universities and research institutions.  As mission planners, we have a moral duty to eschew any and all political agendas and come up with crew composition guidelines that provide the highest probability of mission success.  We'll leave it to the jaded politicos to hack up our work for the sake of their various agendas later. wink

Thanks for pointing out my ambiguities, guys...does this give you enough information to work with?


"When I think about everything we've been through together, maybe it's not the destination that matters. Maybe it's the journey..."

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#6 2002-05-11 14:48:24

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

Thank you, [b:post_uid0]Peter,[/b:post_uid0] for your graciousness.

I regret any argumentativeness when I responded to your excellent series of questions by answering with a laundry list of my own "meaning of life" questions.

I do believe, however, that in space mission architecture - like traditional architecture:

"Form follows function"

For the record, the objectives and funding sources Peter describe closely match my view of an ideal mission. If I often play devil's advocate and discuss a media or marketing driven mission, or other even less attractive ideas, it is because I have doubts about finding the necessary funding for a mission fitting Peter's vision.

For similiar reasons, I have previously inquired how much we should be willing to compromise our "ideal" mission objectives in order to get any mission at all.

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#7 2002-05-11 15:22:19

Bill White
Member
Registered: 2001-09-09
Posts: 2,114

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

Some important questions here...

-- How many crew?

"5 or 6 - - I have mixed feelings about the even/odd debate and can go either way"

-- How important is it that they have previous spaceflight experience?

"IMHO - everyone should serve at least 1 tour on the ISS, which can be done after making the "A" list. Perhaps the final crew could serve a full ISS rotation by themselves to help gel team cohesiveness. Space experience before final selection is less critical, again, IMHO."

-- What scientific disciplines should be represented?

"First, various specialities in geology and microbiology, especially anaerobic bacteria. I would like to see agricultural specialists who can attempt to build greenhouses and formulate hydroponic solution from regolith. Possibly a materials engineer to experiment with brick making and the processing of Martian materials and atmosphere into useful resources. Everyone should have a solid background in chemistry, even if done by correspondence on the way to Mars!"

-- In what proportion should the genders be represented?

"50% - 50%"

-- Should an attempt be made to represent nationalities/races/ethnicities evenly?

"Too many variables for me to give an opinion - I could write a book and still remain confused."

-- What about religion, for that matter?

"Ditto."

-- Should any portion of the crew should be military?

"YES - probably several experienced officers with active duty experience. An ability to work as a team within a command structure would seem essential. See below. . ."

-- What should the "chain of command" look like?  Should there be one at all?

"YES - a democracy would invite disaster. Even civilians adopt a military structure for things like "round the world" sailing races where the crew are all long haired, beer drinking, Jimmy Buffet loving sailors.

The commander needs to be someone who can accept suggestions but who will take sole responsibility to make the final decision when necessary. The crew needs to know how to offer suggestions in a manner that does not threaten command integrity and everyone needs to know when orders can be "discussed" and when they must be followed instantly.

If an air traffic controller radios - out of the blue - "Break right, Now!" a good military pilot turns first and asks "Why?" later.

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#8 2002-05-12 04:44:01

Omer Joel
Member
From: Quiriat Tivon, Israel
Registered: 2002-05-03
Posts: 23

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

IMHO, one of the most important aspects of a manned Mars mission is the fact that you'll have a relatively small Human crew completely isolated from any other Human contact (except for laggy radio/TV contact with Earth, which won't be real-time anyway) for a year or more. You'll need people who could basically perform any required task on the vessel, from repairs to medical care, without outside help. If anything goes wrong, they are completely on their own. And, you'll need the crew to be able to funtion even if one or more crew members become uncapable of doing their jobs (due to insanity, accidents etc). What you'll need is a team of cross-trained professionals each trained in more than one field, and atleast minimally capable in a large number of fields. Sure, each crew member should have a specific job on the vessel, but should also be able to perform task outside of his/her field of speciality in the case of emergency. Ofcourse, astronauts should also have prior experience in life in a small, isolated community (ISS, Antartica etc). The ethnical/national/religios makeup of the crew would probably depend on who will send the mission in the first place (in other words, if China sends its own Mars mission, don't expect any westerners to be on it...)

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#9 2002-05-12 09:56:31

Peter Pevensie
Member
From: Terceira Island, Azores, Portu
Registered: 2002-05-03
Posts: 39

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

-- How many crew?

"5 or 6 - - I have mixed feelings about the even/odd debate and can go either way"[/quote:post_uid0]
I would agree, for mostly logistical reasons.  Of course, you said below that the crew should be a 50/50 gender mix, so that basically solves the "even-odd" problem for you. big_smile

-- How important is it that they have previous spaceflight experience?

"IMHO - everyone should serve at least 1 tour on the ISS, which can be done after making the "A" list. Perhaps the final crew could serve a full ISS rotation by themselves to help gel team cohesiveness. Space experience before final selection is less critical, again, IMHO."[/quote:post_uid0]
Again, I agree with everything you said here.  Possible exceptions might be the mission commander (I'm thinking that a space veteran would be the best choice) and the Mars lander pilot (someone with spaceflight experience would be a major "plus" here).

-- What scientific disciplines should be represented?

"First, various specialities in geology and microbiology, especially anaerobic bacteria. I would like to see agricultural specialists who can attempt to build greenhouses and formulate hydroponic solution from regolith. Possibly a materials engineer to experiment with brick making and the processing of Martian materials and atmosphere into useful resources. Everyone should have a solid background in chemistry, even if done by correspondence on the way to Mars!"[/quote:post_uid0]
Again I agree, but I have a question:  Why the emphasis on chemistry?  I would think geology expertise would have a more positive impact on mission effectiveness.

-- Should an attempt be made to represent nationalities/races/ethnicities evenly?

"Too many variables for me to give an opinion - I could write a book and still remain confused."

-- What about religion, for that matter?

"Ditto."[/quote:post_uid0]
IMO, these kinds of factors -- which have no impact on a person's ability to perform his job -- should [i:post_uid0]not[/i:post_uid0] be an issue in crew selection.  However, my pragmatic side tells me that the jaded politicos and money-grubbing lawyers will make a [i:post_uid0]major[/i:post_uid0] issue out of at least one, if not all, of these things.

-- Should any portion of the crew should be military?

"YES - probably several experienced officers with active duty experience. An ability to work as a team within a command structure would seem essential. See below. . ."[/quote:post_uid0]
Again, I agree...but let me ask you this.  For the reasons you specified, would you advocate the [i:post_uid0]entire[/i:post_uid0] crew come from military backgrounds, as they did for the majority of the lunar flights?  Remember, our scenario deals only with the [i:post_uid0]first[/i:post_uid0], and presumably most dangerous and critical, mission of the program.

Thanks for your thoughtful response, [b:post_uid0]Bill[/b:post_uid0].  I'm eager to hear more of your thoughts.


"When I think about everything we've been through together, maybe it's not the destination that matters. Maybe it's the journey..."

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#10 2002-06-01 23:30:35

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Crew Composition - Okay, OTHER than you, who should go?

Peter writes/asks:

Some important questions here...
-- How many crew?

*Enough to cover technological, scientific, medical/surgical, etc., needs...survival basics must be covered, perhaps staff cross-trained.

-- How important is it that they have previous spaceflight experience?

*I'd say very important.  Each person should have qualifications in this regard.

-- What scientific disciplines should be represented?

*Engineering, astronomy, biomedical, geography, nutritionist...

-- In what proportion should the genders be represented?

*I say sending the best, most qualified/highly trained people irregardless of gender ratio is most important.  However, a crew would probably get along better with at least one member of the opposite sex being present among the majority gender.

-- Should an attempt be made to represent nationalities/races/ethnicities evenly?

*No.  "Political correctness" shouldn't have any part of the mission.  Only the best qualified, well trained, intelligent and capable members should be given the mission -- regardless of skin color or ancestry.

-- What about religion, for that matter?

*I say each crew member take their religious beliefs -- or lack thereof -- with them, and keep them to themselves unless asked to do otherwise by a crewmate.

-- Should any portion of the crew should be military?

*Don't know.

-- What should the "chain of command" look like?

*Brad Pitt.  wink  Seriously...I'm not that familiar with patterns/outlines for "chains of command" in military or quasi-military scenarios...sorry.

Should there be one at all?

*Yes.  People work better as a team when positions relative to each other are known and understood; a military background would be a bonus here.  Cooperation will be vital.  In the event of an emergency or stressful situation, everyone automatically knows who will give the orders/make the decisions, and how -- and by who -- they will be carried out.  A sense of comraderie must also be nutured.

Of course, I might not know what the heck I'm talking about...
???

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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