FISO: Overview of the Affording Mars workshop

The latest presentation to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) study group is now posted in the FISO Working Group Presentations Archive. Both slides (pdf) and audio (mp3) are available for the talk, Affording Mars – a Workshop, a Plan, a Future Course for Human Spaceflight, Michael Raftery (Boeing) & Joseph Cassady (Aerojet) – Feb.19.14

This is an overview of the Affording Mars Workshop held last December in Washington, DC. , which was organized by the Explore Mars group.

Their Mars mission architectures used the exorbitantly expensive SLS/Orion systems and did not employ any innovative low-cost approach like Mars Direct. Other than employing the ISS in preparations more extensively, their program design doesn’t seem much different than previous Mars plans at NASA. Yet they claim to have shown that human Mars exploration can be affordable. That is, they are claiming that doing the same thing yet again and expecting a different result was not insane this time.

European Rover Challenge 2014

Here’s an announcement from PlanetPR:

European Rover Challenge 2014

Europe approaching Mars

The European Rover Challenge 2014, an international Mars rover contest, will be held in Poland in September. It will be accompanied by a Convention attended by world class space researchers, as well as a Science Picnic. The trio of events is hosted together thanks to the hospitality of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship.

The hosting of ERC 2014 in Poland was first announced in autumn, at the European Mars Society Convention in Paris. The Challenge will be held at the Regional Science-Technology Centre in Podzamcze (near Chęciny), from September 5th to 7th. Detailed information can be found on the Challenge website:


“Simultaneously with the Challenge, we’ll host an European Mars Conference on the topic ‘Humans in Space’, intended for experts who share the vision of a manned flight to Mars, as well as for other professionals (e.g. members of the space industry, the medical industry, academics from other fields), and entrepreneurs. Everyone will also have a chance to see many different experiments and scientific demonstrations in the tents of the nearby Science Picnic. There’ll be something for audiences of all ages and tastes.” – says Mateusz Józefowicz, Chairman of Mars Society Polska, the ERC organizers.

The main event, the Challenge involving analogues of Mars rovers, is a competition for teams of students and recent graduates of higher education institutions, who, with the help of their faculty, try to first design and build and then, in September, field the best rover. The core of the Challenge are four practical tasks: a science task involving obtaining and analyzing samples, a “blind” navigation task, in which the team will have to guide the rover to a certain destination using just GPS coordinates and no camera input, and two engineering tasks that will require using and repairing equipment. During all of the tasks, the teams will have to control their rovers without seeing them directly.

“The ERC is a European variation of the prestigious University Rover Challenge, organized in the USA by The Mars Society – a contest that has seen a number of successful Polish teams.” – explains Adam Jarubas, the Marshall of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. “We are very happy that this year the students can compete in Poland, at our Regional Science-Technology Centre. The project fits right into our Regional Innovation Strategy.” – he adds.

The European Rover Challenge 2014 is organized by Mars Society Polska, in cooperation with Planet PR, the Marshal Office of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, the Regional Science-Technology Centre in Podzamcze near Chęciny,  ABM Space Education, and the Austrian Space Forum.

ERC logo

Space Frontier Foundation invites applications for Teachers in Space workshop

Joe Latrell of the Space Frontier Foundation (and Photos-to-Space) sent this announcement:

Teachers in Space Announces Opening for Flight Experiment
Summer Workshop Applications

The Space Frontier Foundation’s Teachers in Space (TIS) project today announced that teacher’s applications are now being accepted for its Flight Experiment summer workshop.

Teachers in Space is a project to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging teachers with authentic astronaut training and real space science experiences combined with information and resources they bring into classrooms across America.

The workshop is offered for high school teachers of math, science and technology.

The Flight Experiment workshop offers hands-on, repeatable experience with suborbital and orbital experiment design and launch processes. Participants will build, launch, track, retrieve, and analyze captured data from weather balloon experiments which can be recreated within a typical classroom budget. Teachers will learn about commercial spaceflight, suborbital and glider and balloon flight, meteorology, basic glider controls, basic instrumentation, control surfaces, and simple pre-made instruments that will be flying with teachers in gliders and on weather balloons. They will also learn about pressure change, accelerometers, and dosimeters. The experience will culminate with teachers practicing what was learned during the week as they launch their own weather balloons.

Leading the workshop are award winning master teachers James Kuhl, Earth Science Teacher from Syracuse, NY, Rachael Manzer, STEM Coach from Hartford, CT,  Luther Richardson, Physics Instructor, Columbus High School (Columbus, GA) & Systems Engineer for AstroSystems, LLC, and Joe Latrell Project Coordinator from Teachers in Space, PA.

The workshop will be held in Columbus GA, on July 21-25, 2014.

If you are a teacher of science, technology, engineering, or math at the high school level we encourage you to apply. Space is limited; only 30 seats are available. The deadline for workshop applications is April 1, 2014. The workshop is free of charge to qualified applicants.

U.S. High School STEM (Science Technology Engineering or Math) teachers may apply at:

Space policy roundup – Feb.27.14

The House Science committee will have a hearing at 10:00 am ET on Thursday morning to discuss an Inspiration Mars type of Venus/Mars flyby mission but with NASA astronauts using SLS/Orion.

[ Update: Notes on the hearing are being posted at

Here is the Democratic opening statement (pdf).  And here is the Republican opening statement (pdf).


It will be interesting to see where the Congresspersons think they can get the money for this and how, after endless attacks on the safety of commercial crew systems that will fly on well-tested rockets,  they will defend the safety of such a mission on the rocket’s second flight and first crew launch.


  • Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute, George Washington University
  • General Lester Lyles (ret.), Independent Aerospace Consultant and former Chairman of the Committee on “Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program” established by the National Academies
  • Mr. Doug Cooke, Owner, Cooke Concepts and Solutions and former NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate
  • Dr. Sandra Magnus, Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

[ Update 2: Stephen C. Smith  has kindly posted a video of the hearing:


More space policy/politics related links:

Space policy related webcasts: