Crew 220 Commander Report 1FEB2020
Author: John Hanacek, Commander
Title: Last Day, Retiring the Station-to-Station Mission
We awoke today out of simulation and quickly set to work cleaning up the MDRS station. Several of my crew also kindly helped disassemble t he MAU station. As I was the MAU Commander for Sol 1-7, I feel a special connection to this first habitat module, I could not help but reflect on how unique this station-to-station experience has been. I was blessed to start my time as a commander at the MAU station and experienced Mars from the unique perspective of operating at the same time as improving the habitat. I had a humbling experience at MAU; an intense growing experience. Susan Jewell (MAU Crew Lead) and I set up the station in preparation for receiving the crew as well as led the first crew who lived in it. When I became commander at MDRS for the second week rotation, I found myself so grateful for the large station’s size, consistent electrical power, full comprehensive systems and warm beds. I had been directly reminded by my MAU experience that the most important things for mission success are the basics such as shelter, water, food, and ability to look within and be really honest at all times.
As this mission ends, I am reflecting on what changed and what did not. Having two commanders was a challenge, as both had separate sovereignty of their station. Yet we needed to work together on joint missions, and to support one another’s stations. Mars is not a forgiving place for the unprepared – and so it should not be. Life requires being fully present, self monitoring and ensuring full accountability for the self and mutual support for the crew. It requires constant vigilance and good communication skills to survive, as well as deep connections and collaboration among all members of the crew to thrive. During this mission we demonstrated that two very different stations can operate together on Mars and more than just survive – we can thrive. When some MAU crew members became fatigued by the rugged conditions of the MAU station it was my role to ensure I supported them and together found a way to bolster morale. On EVAs each station’s habcomm’s operators handled overall radio coverage and enabled the mission to have a wider capability for situational awareness. The two stations were separate, yet operated in areas that required collaboration such as EVAs which enabled us to consistently move forward. I will forever remember this experience and the unique privilege and honor to co-command a two station mission.