Spaceflight Insider

Marshall Space Flight Center “The Martian” Media Tour

The Martian Matt Damon 20th Century Fox image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — This past week, SpaceFlight Insider, along with other members of the media, received a behind-the-scenes tour of real “The Martian” technology at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in the lead-up to the October 2, 2015, opening of what’s expected to be Hollywood’s next blockbuster.

NASA scientists and engineers served as technical consultants on the film – helping producers present a realistic view of Mars’ climate and topography, and the challenges NASA is facing to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet in the 2030s.

Those present at MSFC received a hands-on tour of the technology and programs that are turning science fiction into science fact for the journey to Mars.

First, in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room, there were several presentations on, and animations of, Mars mission concepts and proposed habitats and landers.

Next, media had the opportunity to tour life-size mock-ups of proposed habitats to learn how engineers and scientists are designing the quarters where astronauts will live and work on long-duration missions to Mars and other destinations.

Then, in MSFC’s Environmental Control and Life Support System lab, participants heard how NASA is using knowledge gained from generating oxygen and recycling water aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to develop oxygen/water systems for Mars missions.

In addition, media were shown how the MSFC team is using simulated Martian regolith to advance manufacturing technologies, such as 3-D printing, which may allow future explorers to build structures using in situ material.

There was also an update on the status of the Space Launch System (SLS) – NASA’s next-generation vehicle that is intended to launch astronauts on the journey to Mars. The update included a look at the progress being made on a test version of the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA), which will connect the rocket’s 27.5-foot-diameter core stage to its 16.4-foot-diameter Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS).

A few “Insider” photos:

MSFC Director Patrick Scheuermann getting miked up for SLS / Orion / "The Martian" presentation. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

MSFC Director Patrick Scheuermann getting miked up for “The Martian” / SLS / Orion presentation in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Les Johnson of the MSFC Advanced Concepts Office speaks on Mars system concepts in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

Les Johnson of the MSFC Advanced Concepts Office speaks on Mars system concepts in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Les Johnson of the MSFC Advanced Concepts Office discusses Mars mission long-stay / short-stay options. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

Les Johnson of the MSFC Advanced Concepts Office discusses Mars mission long-stay / short-stay options in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

David Smitherman of the MSFC Space Systems Team discusses Mars habitat / transfers concept. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

David Smitherman of the MSFC Space Systems Team discusses a Mars habitat/transfer concept in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Tara Polsgrove of the MSFC Human Architecture team speaks on potential Mars landers. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

Tara Polsgrove of the MSFC Human Architecture team speaks on potential Mars landers in the Advanced Concepts collaboration room. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Mars lander concept. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

Mars lander concept. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Notional ISS derived cis-lunar mission habitat graphic at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

David Reynolds, the manager of Deep Space Habitat Concept Demonstrators, describes a notional ISS-derived cislunar mission habitat graphic at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Notional SLS derived extended mission habitat graphic and mock-up at MSFC.

Notional SLS derived extended mission habitat graphic (left) and mock-up (right) at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Inside notional SLS derived extended mission habitat mockup at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

Inside notional SLS derived extended mission habitat mockup at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

NASA's Mighty Eagle robotic lander prototype at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

NASA’s Mighty Eagle robotic lander prototype at MSFC. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Simulated Mars regolith in jar and on hand

On the left, “Mars In A Jar” – a.k.a. a container of simulated Mars regolith. On the right, it turns out that Mars can be rather difficult to remove. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

NASA's Jennifer Pruitt (Twitter: @PlaysWithPee) speaking on urine recycling. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

NASA’s Jennifer Pruitt (Twitter: @PlaysWithPee) “playing with pee” – a.k.a. urine recycling. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

Andy Schorr speaks in front of the SLS Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) test article at MSFC, and MSFC Deputy Director Todd May speaks on SLS status.

On the left, Andy Schorr, of MSFC’s SLS Payload and Integration Office, speaks in front of the SLS Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) test article at MSFC. On the right, MSFC Deputy Director Todd May speaks on SLS status. Photo Credit: Scott Johnson / SpaceFlight Insider

 

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Scott earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware.

Scott attended the STS – 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.

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