The crew for the manned mission
Although many complex technical issues are involved in planning a manned mission to Mars, surprisingly enough perhaps one of the most challenging design problems is the selection of the crew. In most of the technical problems that have to be solved, the answers can be measured, calculated, compared and evaluated with a certain degree of precision. In the case of "designing" and selecting the crew, however, the human nature of the problem makes it very difficult to agree on a unique answer to the questions.
Mars Academy members have had two Web chats on these topics. An initial chat amongst Mars Academy members was held to discuss the number of crewmembers that would make up the crew, their gender and marital status (married couples only or singles, etc.) and the functions that they would have to perform. Click here to read a summary of the chat.
Then, two experts on crew selection and group behavior in situations of long confinement, Dr. Jack Stuster, NASA researcher and author of the book "Bold Horizons" and Dr. Claude Bachelard, medical Director of the French Polar Institute, generously shared some of their knowledge with us in another Web chat. Click here to read a summary of the web chat with Drs. Stuster and Bachelard.
For several days, Mars Academy members were able to fill an online form with their own suggestions on the number of crewmembers and the functions they should perform.
Based on the web chats and the votes received, it was decided that a minimum of four crewmembers was to attempt the first mission to the Red planet. Regarding gender and marital status, it was suggested that due to the long time involved and the confinement situation married couples that could perform the necessary functions would be preferred. This does not rule out the possibility of employing single astronauts if they prove to be more capable of achieving the mission goals.
Regarding the functions that crew members must perform, the following were the most voted :
The functions outlined above are an initial attempt to define each crew members role. However, given the nature of the mission, each of them should double up at least in one of the functions performed by the other crew members that are mission critical. For example, one of the crew members should have some pilot training in case the pilot for some reason (like medical reasons, for example) is not able to perform his duties.
We are currently in the process of defining more precisely the functions that each of the above crewmembers should perform during the mission. An online form allows our members to contribute by suggesting the functions and tasks that each of the astronauts in the crew would have to do in order to achieve the mission objectives. Click here to submit your suggestions on the crewmembers' functions.