Commander Report – January 18th

Crew 219 Commander’s Report, 18-01-2020

Author: Dave Masaitis, Commander

SOL 13

Peace on Mars, and Goodwill To Crews

It was the Summer of 2017 when I spoke to Nathan on the phone and told him he should have a look at the MDRS website. He was busy with a summer internship in Tennessee, and asked me to give him a run-down. I told him it was a Mars analog in the Utah desert, and it could be a valuable resource for the members of our organization to send crews to evaluate our work. After some discussion, we both agreed that we should bring it to the rest of the membership in the fall with the intent of submitting an application. Three years and two MDRS missions later, and I am shaking hands with Commander Pandya of Crew 220, to transfer responsibility of the MDRS campus at sunset.

I took an out-of-sim hike up North Ridge with others from Crew 219 today, to show them the absolutely breathtaking view that Nathan, Hannah, and I had the pleasure of seeing as members of Crew 205. In their words it was another life-altering experience, but for me personally, it was finally an opportunity after quite a number of persistently busy years and back-to-back missions to stop and reflect. The air was clear, the sun was shining and there was a steady but light breeze from the northwest. It has been an extremely long road to this point, rife with challenges, but we made it. We all made it. We did it together, but I can no longer contain the pride and excitement that I feel having had the honor of leading the first All-Florida-Tech crew through this experience, especially knowing that more will follow.

We selected and trained an exceptional crew, who stayed motivated and cheerful while they accomplished a lion’s share of high-fidelity science and engineering. Their diligence and
professionalism is a testament to each of their characters, but their willingness to greet adversity with a smile and a laugh is a testament to their spirits. I am humbled to have shared this time with them, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of peers, friends, and colleagues.

This afternoon we had the opportunity to meet and train a new group of selected professionals, each with their own stories, capabilities, and expectations. I think I can speak for all of Crew 219 when I say that we are extremely excited to see the work that Crew 220 produces in their time here, so we have been doing everything we can to help them get up to speed and get situated for their time here. After I finish writing this, we will take pictures and eat dinner together, and by 0500 in the morning, we will be leaving this mission on Mars in their capable hands.

I am grateful to Dr. Robert Zubrin and Dr. Shannon Rupert for giving us this incredible opportunity. I am thankful for the diligence and hard work of Atila Meszaros and David Mateus as well as the slew of wonderful volunteers and members of CapCom and the Mars Society that provided us with knowledge and support along our journey. I am thankful for the support and encouragement provided by Florida Tech and our sponsors.

I am humbled and grateful, but not heartbroken. We did what we came here to do, and now it’s time to go. Now it’s time to return to Florida and prepare another crew. Now it’s time to embrace new challenges in exploration, both in the sky and the sea. Now it’s time to keep pushing the boundaries of human experience; to go where others will not, to see what we did not even know to look for.

Onward.

Dave Masaitis

Commander, Crew 219