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Spaceward Bound MDRS Background

The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope. – Teilhard de Chardin.

Spaceward Bound is a two-week student training and research mission to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah. Crew members are expected to plan all aspects of the expedition, including learning how to get along "off the grid." They are involved in all aspects of mission planning from logistics, to research, to Advanced Extravehicular Activities training. Student training and research missions generally take place in the fall.

The Vision for Space Exploration calls for the first human landing on the Moon between 2018 and 2020 and missions to Mars to follow. Of the crews that will be sent, many of the next generation of moon walkers, and the first Mars walkers, are studying in universities and graduate research labs right now...

To begin to prepare these explorers, the students perform actual research on local geology, crewmember physiology, and microbiology as well as field-testing on new EVA hardware, rigging data loggers, and performing work-study task and procedure analysis. A significant portion of the work is done before the trip, working out the logistics of what equipment will be necessary during a two-week stay in a Mars analogue environment. Crews typically work 12-15 hour days and are expected to conduct themselves as leaders.

Next application process wil begin in summer 2007. Anyone majoring in an engineering or scientific field is welcome to apply. Students may be either grad students, undergraduates, recent graduates or teachers at the time that they apply. Preference will be for people with field research experience and/or a demonstrated comfort in being in a rugged environment.

Applications are invited from those in good physical condition, at least 18 years of age of any race, creed, color, gender, age or sexual orientation. Scientific, engineering, practical mechanical, first aid, wilderness, literary skills, ability to work as part of a team, a commitment to human space exploration and a good sense of humor are all considered a plus. Those selected are invited to participate in crew training exercises, and asked to create a code of conduct for their crew and adhere to mission guidelines as established by the instructors during the expedition. Every participant must commit to being in Utah for the full expedition and will be required to sign a liability waiver.

Each participant will receive a $500 stipend to put toward travel to Salt Lake City, UT. Spaceward Bound will pay for transportation between the Salt Lake City airport and MDRS, and all expenses at MDRS including room and board.

All applications must include:

  • A short note describing your reasons for participating and how you envision your contribution to the expedition and the future. (1 page maximum)
  • A resume detailing your educational background, experiences and acquired skills- (this can be non-traditional to capture wilderness experience and team work experience.)
  • Names, emails and contact phone numbers of two character references- references will be contacted only if the applicant is short-listed
  • A digital excel application form (for us to compile contact information from)
  • A digital photograph (preferably in .jpg format) and short biography (100 to 250 words) for posting on the webpage, should you be selected
Total application must not exceed one Word file and one Excel file. Please submit all applications to No hard copies of the application or research proposal are required (email applications only). Applications and research proposals will be considered until all positions are filled or plans are finalized (in early November).

 FirstGov  NASA

Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated:February 2006
Students Contact: Loretta Hidalgo
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe