Mission Plan – November 27th


The Aerospace Corporation does not currently have a standing Institutional Review Board (IRB) for human-subject research. Aerospace has leveraged their Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) organization’s Project Safety Review (PSR) which accounts for any hazardous materials that may be encountered during a planned project. The crew members have completed identified training. The Aerospace crew has also received corporate concurrence from General Counsel, Human Resources, Office of Chief Financial Officer, and Corporate Communications with no noted concerns. The senior leadership of the Aerospace Civil Systems Group (CSG), including Sr. VP and General Manager of Human Exploration & Spaceflight (HESF), have concurred on the scope and application of research within this proposed mission plan, and agree it does not contain human-subject research, and that Aerospace crew members will abide by standard ethics practices. For any future analog missions that contain customer-sponsored activities, such activities will be reviewed by an IRB of the originating/owning institution. No crew health data will be collected regarding Crew 269 activities.

Notional EVA Plan

The EVA plan will be considered research led by the crew Executive Officer. This notional plan considers mission priorities, flight rules, and high-level activity durations. Crew 269 will first consult with MDRS Mission Control and MDRS protocols for planning the following day’s EVAs. The Crew 269 EVA plan provides 11 planned EVAs (on 9 mission days), sometimes with multiple objectives within a single EVA. Each EVA crew will stay together, even when there are multiple objectives on an EVA, and will maintain communications with the IVA crew. The EVA plan considers 1 built-in “rest” days and 1 built-in “back up” where the crew does not perform EVA activities; these serve as a backup for any rescheduling due to issues with prior EVAs, weather delays, etc. Actual targeted locations for EVA activities will be determined by the crew while on-site during the mission, in order to account for observations and feedback from crew members in mission planning.

Table 4 provides a sol-by-sol look at the nominal EVA and activity plan. On Sol 6, after retrieving the Mirror experiment, IVA crew will need to inspect the payload. A 2nd EVA will be required to re-deploy the payload. The balloon launch will occur on Sol 10, to give ample time for the crew to get comfortable on site, accomplish a number of objectives, and minimize the time between balloon launch and retrieval. Our final full day (Sol 12) at MDRS will be reserved as a “Media Day”. More information on or STEM outreach objectives can be found in section 9 of this document.

Table 4 Notional EVA Plan


Notional crew EVA assignments have been completed, accounting for each crew member conducting 5-6 EVAs over the course of the mission. Crew not assigned to EVA will be responsible for IVA (cap com) and recording notes when in communication with the crew. Table 5 was created to make sure the planned EVAs were distributed evenly including use of the MDRS electric vehicles “rovers”.

Table 5 Notional Crew EVA Assignments


Exploration efficiency will be a technical evaluation in conjunction with all crew inputs, recorded statistics, notes, and contributions. The IVA crew will be recording time stamps during EVA activities in order to understand planned versus actual for EVA activities. The IVA crew will act as a temp mission control or “cap com” for procedures and communications. Overall evaluation of the activity timeline, replanning activities, use of Aero support team, crew autonomy levels, and communication methodology influence on EVA will be considered.

No crew health data will be collected regarding EVAs.

Communication Methodology

Led by Barbara Braun, (developed by Braun’s middle schooler) the crew communication methodology will entail the crew will utilizing a discord server for “near real-time” experiment feedback from Aerospace mission support Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) on EVAs and activity replanning, as well as provide an opportunity for STEM outreach. The discord server will account for time/communication delays, with multiple private channels for crew to keep in communication with family, Aerospace mission support personnel, and teachers from around the United States. The discord server will allow the crew to feel connected to friends and family with a low-bandwidth SMS texting level of capability.

Project Phantom Demo

The Phantom Demonstration is a Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) exploration methodology led by the crew Technical Officer, Trevor Jahn (developed in conjunction with his Aerospace team personnel). Project Phantom will be a key highlight of our mission, combining 3D model generating technology, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) for space-based application. The crew will collect imagery data via different photogrammetry techniques, which involves stitching together large collections of overlapping photographs to create 3D digital models. The crew will collect this imagery via camera-mounted rover, camera-mounted drone, and hand-held camera, at areas of interest. The 3D model of the operational environment will be used for EVA mission planning, in conjunction with AR activities during EVAs.

EVA Tool Demo

The EVA Tool Demonstration will be led by Kristine Ferrone and Alli Taylor as a continuation from the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS) EVA 103 course, with research conducted in the July 2021 timeframe. For MDRS 269 tool demonstration will include radiation scanning and sample collection techniques. It may be important to survey the surface layer of regolith for radiation before excavating an area of interest. Advantages of local radiation mapping include production of higher resolution surveys as opposed to remote mapping, limited distortion of measurements by planetary atmospheres, and the ability of an astronaut to rake or dig within the regolith to survey beyond the immediate surface. The latter is particularly important to distinguish between radiation emitted by regolith activated by solar particle event (SPE) or galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) at ~cm depths, albedo (reflected) primary or secondary solar or galactic cosmic radiation, and native/naturally occurring radioisotope content within the regolith. EVAs should collect samples that can be further studied back on Earth. Potential samples at different size grains may be advantageous depending on the priorities of the sample collection activity. Crew may demo sifting of the sample for targeted grain size in attempt to provide beneficiation of sample before further processing (such as in ISRU use cases). If a sample is taken, the team should first photograph the area, and photograph the sample with a label, before bagging the sample. No crew health data will be collected regarding EVA tool demonstration.

Mirror Surface Coating Experiment

The Mirror Surface Coating Durability experiment, overseen at MDRS by Ashley Kowalski and Trevor Jahn, developed in conjunction with on-going research at Aerospace’s Physical Sciences Laboratory (PSL), will allow the crew to deploy a payload containing small mirrors with thin-film coatings, monitor mirror surface degradation under simulated accelerated environmental exposure, and periodically inspect the payload during the mission. Data from inspections and the final collection of the payload will return the payload to the PSL for further inspection post-mission. Mirror surfaces simulate delicate science instrumentation, as high-reflectivity Ag mirrors are widely used in space applications. However, exposure to environmental contaminants rapidly degrades optical performance, where corrosion results in reduced reflectivity and increased scatter. This degradation has serious implications on the mirror performance lifetime on planetary surfaces such as Mars. Payload data will be compared to control data, or laboratory simulated environments from prior experiments. No crew health data will be collected regarding deployment/collection/inspection of mirror experiment.

Athena/ HYFIT Exercise Operations

Operational evaluation led by Barbara Braun and Kristine Ferrone. Astronauts spend a significant amount of time completing mission tasks so finding time for feasible amounts of exercise is a priority. Astronauts are also in confined quarters so the space available for exercise is limited, therefore minimizing the size and mass of exercise equipment is necessary. Taking these considerations into account, the modified Athena protocol will allow for crew members to break their exercise into three 15-minute increments throughout the day. Crew will also be offered the ability to “choose their own adventure” from the following workouts:

  • HyGear resistance bands (https://hygearfit.com/)

    • Not a paid endorsement, Aerospace and HYFIT established a memorandum of understanding (MOU)

    • Pre-choreographed workout options to follow via HYFIT app (pre-downloaded)

  • Total Body Workout

    • Squats, lunges, pushups/shoulder tap, sit-ups/crunches, skater jumps, glute bridge, high knees, leg lifts, hovers, etc. in timed sets.

    • Benefit of aerobic exercise with no equipment needed

    • Pre-choreographed workout videos pre-downloaded as an option

  • Yoga/meditation/stretching/other

    • Pre-choreographed workout videos pre-downloaded as an option

    • Good alternate to have on busy, stressful, or long EVA days

Anonymous evaluation and assessment of the style of workout chosen, and how it fit into the workday (or changes made such as fewer workouts) will be provided. No crew health data will be collected regarding the workout routine.

High Altitude Balloon

Led by Matthew Eby, the crew will explore EVA launch of a high-altitude balloon experiment to complement ground-based weather observations, or in response to a Martian atmospheric event (dust storm). This experiment will evaluate the technical ability of a suited 2-person crew to prepare and launch a weather balloon, followed by receipt of telemetered data to the habitat. Experiment factors include low surface wind, cloud ceiling minimums, precipitation. The crew will need procedures for safe handling of a helium bottle, which will be stored in a secured area during transit and prior to the event. The balloon will be exempt from permit due to size and will have regulation of “no undue hazard”. The crew will provide a pre-launch notification to the FAA traffic control and provide expected rise rate (1000 ft/min) and location (about 5 mi west of Hanksville). No crew health data will be collected regarding the deployment of the balloon.

STEM Outreach

The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew has a number of STEM outreach objectives for their inaugural mission:

  • The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew will be featured on Aerospace’s The Space Policy Show (SPS) on November 17th leading up to the mission.

    • This event leverages the SPS audience from over 100 prior episodes

  • The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew will be hosting a live Audience with Aerospace event during their time at MDRS on Friday December 9th (Sol 12, Media Day, not in simulation) on Zoom.us

    • This event leverages the Aerospace STEM email distribution list, with interest from throughout the United States

  • The Aerospace MDRS 269 crew will have a Discord channel for registered STEM participants, where the crew can respond to questions asked by anyone who signs up to engage with the crew on the Discord server. The crew can respond to questions in their free time during the mission. The discord server will account for time delay to/from Mars!

  • Aerospace will host a corporate videographer on our Media Day Dec. 9th to capture footage for post-mission production footage (a separate shoot schedule will be provided)

    • 1:1 Interviews

    • Staging a few key experiments

    • Group photos

  • Aerospace will be coordinating with their social media team prior to the mission and providing content for socials throughout the mission.

Mapping to LEAG Analog Objectives

Our crew has taken an initial cut at how we think our mission activities could inform some of the published Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Analog Objectives for Artemis (AOA). Any contributions to these areas would be relevant to solving near term exploration challenges, as lunar operations will be considered an analog for future Mars missions. A more detailed look at how MDRS operations or Aerospace analog operations could contribute to these areas will be provided in a final mission report.

Table 6 Crew Activities Aligned to LEAG Analog Objectives

Crew 269 Activity Name


Requires EVA

Tie to the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Analog Objectives for Artemis (AOA) Specific Action Team (SAT) report appendices

Notional EVA Plan and efficiency

-Record overhead vs utilization time spent, planned vs actual time allocation for activities, replanning of activities

-Record notes for utilization of Aerospace mission support

-Implement communications methodology (discord channels)

During all

A; Science support room (SSR) integration and structure

K; Communications Architecture

L; Crew autonomy

Phantom AR/VR

-Eval series of imagery collection techniques via multiple methods

-Perform/send data processing for VR

-Use of AR in EVA for navigation, site inspection


C; Instrumentation

F; Imaging

I; Documentation

J; Advanced Technologies

K; communications architecture

L; crew autonomy

N; Location/Navigation

O; Test Design

EVA Tool Evaluation

-Demo conops for radiation tool

-Demo sample collection conops


F; Imaging (TBD)

G; Sampling (TBD)

H; Tool and Tool/Sample/Payload Management

Mirror Surface Coating Experiment

-Payload deployment

-Scientific inspection, monitoring, measurements


C; Instrumentation

Athena Exercise Protocol

-Conduct 15m x3 workouts in daily routine with HYFIT equipment


L; Crew autonomy

Space Weather Monitoring

-Sun spot counting on solar observatory


Atmospheric High-Altitude Balloon

– Balloon deployment on EVA


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