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Sol -11 : Mars One

Did you hear that seductive and silky British voice tell you the same thing it told me? 2023! That sure is ambitious, dangerous, and difficult. It also is beautiful, inspiring, thought-provoking. Could we do this?

I would go, there is no doubt in my mind, and this fits Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX’s time frame too. Are we really considering this, this crazy wonderful dream? My mind is too blown right now to even give a really good write up of this company and its potentials and pitfalls. I’ll have to sleep on this and do some more research. I have to ask you though, wouldn’t it be beautiful if this was the beginning, if we could really say that humanity was now pushing for the stars, that it is happening in our life time and that we could participate in it?

What if ten years from now, the first Mars colonists were leaving earth to make a home on the red world? Don’t you want to be a member of a species capable of achieving that?

Perpetually in Awe. Todd.

Sol -17 : Only Half a Martian Year

I think we all wish we could be as cool as the Mars rover, Curiosity.  Who wouldn’t want to be trailblazing in a new and strange land, ‘doing a science’, or forging ahead against the unknown. Afghanistan is surely an unknown, strange land; a land where as you may know, I will be spending the next year. I feel some kinship with the Mars Science Lab. Unlike MSL, though, I will get to come back home from my desert wasteland. With all the things Curiosity and I will be learning this year I have decided to blog the whole experience. In keeping with my new perspective, and because counting days makes me feel like i’m making chalk marks on a a prison wall, I am going to chart my journey by counting Sols. I want to remember what I love about humanity, as I have come to understand that I may be encountering the worst of humanity on my trip.

We’re on Sol negative 17, or seventeen days from when I sign my orders and commit to my deployment. Today I worked on my list of online mini-courses the navy has ordered I take in preparation. I got my hearing tested and I’m learning some Dari.  I’m learning everything I may need to know about an M4 Rifle, which is the weirdest thing to stick in an online course, and that says a lot after what I’ve found available online from ASU.  The rest of the week I’ll be learning about the M9 pistol, Army core values and a bunch of other mind numbing but potentially life saving topics. That is Sol -17 through -14.

Also the computer is in the shop, so I’m posting this from my family’s HP. The repair guy thinks its a hardware malfunction, and we can fix it before I leave. The error is most likely in the RAM, but the processor and the hard drives are not being ruled out. It doesn’t make sense this would be a software issue because it happened before and after the whole system wipe.

Here’s a few links I want to throw at you, first is a collection the best photos from MSL posted on the WSJ.  Secondly, here is video experience out of 1969 of Armstrong’s landing on the moon from Space(dot)com. Lastly,  here is the track for the night: Cthulhu Sleeps by Deadmau5

Its only half a Martian year. Todd.

An Education (part 2)

When I came home to Arizona in 2010 after 5 years overseas, my wife and I had decided to switch roles. I was disillusioned with college and she seemed ready to pursue a degree in medicine, her newest life goal now involved becoming a medical doctor. I was going to get a blue collar job and earn money while she jumped into college. Maybe in the future, when I figured myself out, I would go back to school.

My family was determined, though, to convince me otherwise. In my spare time I was getting involved in the podcasting community online and I was having middling success in internet broadcasting. It was fun, I found a topic that I enjoyed talking about and I would spend my evenings doing research and producing a 2 hour weekly show which I published on iTunes. My father thought this was fantastic and thought that I could pursue a degree in New Media production, maybe even at ASU’s Walter Cronkite school. He convinced me to take a few credits at Glendale Community College while working, just to keep my transcript growing and moving in some direction.

But I was still winding down. I felt horrible. I was spending a lot of time online in game worlds. I was without passion. My marriage was falling apart.

When I was unpacking boxes from our last move, in a few that had sat in a closet for months ignored, I found something that would change all that for me. It was an old briefcase, maroon in color with a broken handle. The combination on the locks was 0-0-7 and it was beat up and scuffed from years of abuse I inflicted on it as a kid and years of moving from location to location as an adult. Inside this briefcase was a collection of all the paper spaceships, maps of terraformed Martian landscapes, model planetary rovers with deployable solar panels, random NASA themed LEGOs along with samples of all the unabashed dreaming and geekery I had saved for my future self in one poorly sorted mass. It made me think, when did I give up on all this stuff? What made me give up on my dreams? When does a child stop wanting to be an Astronaut and settles for a cubicle? This was why I was unhappy.

This time capsule saved through the years had served its purpose. It gave me back mine. My purpose was to study, train and step foot on the most beautiful landscape I have ever set eyes on…the surface of Mars. I made a connection to my dreams I had as a child and fused it with my adult ambition.

I walked onto campus last September with a bruised heart, but a burning conviction that what I was doing was right. I had a shine in my eyes when I walked my school halls despite the personal adversity that was assaulting me at home. I had become a single father and I lost a good deal of my friends during the divorce, but every day my support system and the number of new friends I gathered to me grew. They could see my passion, even if sometimes it was a bit overwhelming.

It is one year later. The passion is sustained, it a bit tempered by a high credit load. I passed some classes, I failed some, and some of those I came back in the spring and knocked out of the park. The important thing is that my successes are encouraging, but not essential to my drive. My failures teach me lessons but no longer discourage me from my goals.

Onward, upward, the future is unknown but exciting .