Press Release

Mars Society Special Bulletin #27

By SpaceRef Editor
January 6, 2000
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During its brilliantly successful Christmas mission to refurbish and repair
the Hubble Space Telescope, the Space Shuttle Discovery carried a Martian
flag into orbit for the first time.

The Martian flag carried aboard Discovery was a red, green and blue
tricolor, with the vertical red segment closest to the mast, followed by the
green, and then the blue. Its form was originally suggested to Mars Society
president Robert Zubrin by Mars Arctic Research Station task force leader
Pascal Lee during their summer 1999 site selection expedition to Devon
Island. The red, green and blue colors derive from stages of Mars’
transformation from barrenness to life depicted in the epic ìRed Mars,î
ìGreen Mars,” “Blue Marsî trilogy written by Kim Stanley Robinson. Red,
green and blue are also the primary components of the spectrum, symbolizing
unity in diversity, as well as light itself, and thus reason and
enlightenment. The tricolor form also traditionally represents the
republican values of liberty, equality and justice. The flag was sewn by
Maggie Zubrin and brought aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery at the
invitation of astronaut John Mace Grunsfeld. Astronauts are allowed to
manifest several items of special importance on Space Shuttle flights of an
official nature.

In her book, “The First Salute,” the historian Barbara Tuchman wrote; ìWhite
puffs of gun smoke over a turquoise sea followed by the boom of cannon rose
from the unassuming fort on the diminutive Dutch island of St. Eustatius in
the West Indies on November 16, 1776. The guns of Fort Orange on St.
Eustatius were returning the ritual salute on entering a foreign port of an
American vessel, the Andrea Doria, as she came up the roadstead, flying at
her mast the red-and-white-striped flag of the Continental Congress. In its
responding salute, the small voice of St. Eustatius was the first to
officially greet the largest event of the century ñ the entry into the
society of nations of a new Atlantic state destined to change the direction
of history.î

The Martian flag, representing some of the noblest ideals human civilization
has to offer, has now been honored by a vessel of the leading spacefaring
nation of the Earth. It is fitting that this action occurred when it did; at
the dawning of a new millennium, for surely the largest event of the next
era will be the birth of the first of humanity’s new nations in space.

Mars now has a great flag, one that calls for a great new people to fulfill
its promise.

Three cheers for the red, green and blue!


On December 30, 1999, the Mars Society selected Infrastructure Composites
International (Infracomp) to build the primary structure of the Mars Arctic
Research Station (MARS). The structure, which will be a two-deck Mars
habitat and laboratory prototype 27 feet in diameter, will be built by
Infracomp at the Mesa Fiberglass facility in Commerce City, Colorado, using
an advanced fiberglass honeycomb technology pioneered by the two companies.

The Infracomp/Mesa Fiberglass team has been building large fiberglass
structures with their unique superstrong honeycomb technology since 1961.
The Denver facility in which the MARS will be built includes 35,000 square
feet of heated roofed space and three 5-ton overhead cranes with 30 feet
under hook. The MARS primary structure, including all doors and windows, is
slated to be completed by the first week of May 2000. During May, the
structure will remain on site while interior systems and furnishings are
installed and checked out. Then the entire structure will be disassembled
and shipped to the Arctic for reassembly on Devon Island during late June
and early July. A short shakedown operation of the unit is planned for late
July, with the first three-month full field season planned for summer 2001.
Operations on Devon Island will be done in cooperation with the NASA-led
Haughton Mars Project. Funding for the MARS has been provided by the Steve
and Michele Kirsch Foundation, FINDS, Bushnell Sports Optics, and the
members of the Mars Society.

A full report from the MARS shakedown crew will be given to the attendees at
the Third International Mars Society Convention, which will meet at Ryerson
University in Toronto Ontario, Aug 10-13, 2000. See for


A Mars Petition drive was recently launched with the support of Think Mars,
the Mars Society and Space Views. It provides the general public the
opportunity to express its desire to forge onward in space, with an eager
eye cast to Mars.

The petition, already translated into 10 languages, is a worldwide effort.
The document itself is intended for the President of the United States,
members of Congress, members of other governments, companies in industry,
and universities around the world and will be used to demonstrate that the
citizens of the world wish to have human missions to Mars by 2015. Those
collaborating on the petition hope to have one million signatures on hand by
November 2000, date of the U.S. presidential election. Already, over 18,000
“signatures” have been collected from individuals in 70 countries. In
addition, the petition web page has received over 30,000 hits in its first
two weeks of operations.

The Mars Petition finds its origins with Daniel Kliman, from Dos Pueblos
High School in Santa Barbara, California, who drafted a petition in November
1999. He approached many individuals and groups about distribution,
including the Mars Society and Think Mars. The petition reproduced below
was written by Daniel Kliman, Margarita Marinova, Kevin Leclaire and Justin
Talbot-Stern. Some parts of the petition are also taken from the Mars
Society Founding Declaration.

Show your support for the human exploration of Mars by signing the Mars
Petition at


The Mars Petition

The time has come for humanity to journey to Mars.

Humanity yearns for a challenge, one that will let us exercise the limitless
potential, now dormant, that lies waiting within ourselves. The prospects
facing our generation have never been greater; with world peace,
unprecedented economic growth, and extraordinary technological innovation,
we find ourselves at the threshold of a new millennium of opportunity. The
human exploration of Mars will be our generation’s crowning achievement.

We must go for the knowledge of Mars. Finding evidence of life on Mars would
demonstrate that the origin of life is not unique to the Earth, and, by
implication, reveal a universe that is filled with life and most likely
intelligence as well. This would be the most important scientific
enlightenment since Copernicus’ discoveries.

We must also go for the knowledge of Earth. Mars, the planet most like
Earth, is believed to have had a wet climate and can help us understand the
impact of climatic change on our home world. The knowledge we gain could be
key to our survival.

We call upon the leaders of the world to commit to the immediate human
exploration of Mars. It is our wish that, in the spirit of history’s
greatest explorers, the first humans will set foot on Mars by 2015, with the
ultimate goal of developing a sustained presence. We urge our leaders to
have the vision to provide for the citizens they represent a future without
limits, one that matches our potential and our country’s greatness, and is
worthy of the dreams of our children.

Believing therefore that the exploration and settlement of Mars represent
the greatest human endeavor of our time, I add my signature to the Mars


Those wishing to circulate written copies of the petition should return them
to the Mars Society, PO Box 273, Indian Hills, CO, 80454. Be sure to get the
postal and e-mail addresses of all who sign.


The Mars Society kicks off the new millennium with its first member vote and
one of the first votes of the millennium. It is fitting that this vote will
take place on the internet and will concern bylaws for a chapter’s council.
We anticipate that both the internet and Mars exploration will advance by
leaps and bounds during the next century. We hope that this new council will
increase Mars Society member involvement and enthusiasm which will in turn
accelerate our progress towards the first manned missions to Mars.

To vote, you must first log on to the members only area by going to and then proceed to to read the proposed bylaws and
cast your vote.


A human mission to Mars became a topic for discussion during the
Gore-Bradley debate on December 18, 1999. Below is the transcript of the
Mars portion of the debate.


KOPPEL: Go ahead, sir.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, my name is Tom Bizante .

I work here at Sandries , which is involved in the space programs. In
1960 — or in the ’60s, President Kennedy took a bold step and announced to
the world that he wanted to have a man on the moon before the end of the
decade. Are you willing to also take a bold step and leave us with a legacy
of having a man on Mars by 2010?

GORE: You know, when President — when Vice President Johnson advised
President Kennedy that he should set that goal, it was partly because the
best scientific opinion of the day was that we already knew all of the
essential steps that had to be taken to reach that goal. It was a question
of implementing them properly. Yes, it was a bold vision. But we knew that
if we did it the right way, we could do it.

With Mars there are two distinctions.

Number one, as the recent two failures of these robotic landers show,
there’s still a lot we don’t know. Second, the cost is in a completely
different order of magnitude as the cost of a moon program.

There’s no doubt that, eventually, we will land a human being on Mars.

But we are right now, not at a point of where it makes good sense to outline
that. We’ve got to get to universal health care. We’ve got to revolutionize
our schools. We’ve got to …

KOPPEL: OK, let me have…

GORE: … have a mission to planet Earth to focus with our problems.

KOPPEL: Let me have Senator Bradley go on the record with his position of a
manned mission to Mars.

BRADLEY: He mentioned universal health care. He’s yet to tell us who he’d
leave out.

GORE: No one.

BRADLEY: Now, my personal view of the answer to your question is no.

I will not set a target to get to Mars by any particular date. I will not do
that, because I haven’t been convinced that we can do so in a period of
time. I think investment in space is important. Investment in space is
important because of the research fallout. I would continue to make
investment in space, but I would not make a commitment to Mars by a
particular date.

I think that we need research in all areas of our national government.

We need to increase research for the National Institutes of Health. I’ve
been surprised that research in the Defense Department has dropped from $54
billion to $38 billion. We need more research in defense.

I think that you have to see the space program in the context of the kind of
breakthroughs in subsidiary developments that you get from making that kind
of commitment.

So the commitment would stay strong, but no, the answer is, I wouldn’t
to a date certain for Mars.


[Editor’s note: It will be observed that neither candidate seemed terribly
interested in initiating a mission to Mars. But the inaccuracies in Mr. Gore
‘s statements are particularly sad. Indeed, far from being better prepared
to launch humans to the Moon in 1961 than we are to initiate a
humans-to-Mars program today, the reverse is true. In 1961 we had no idea of
how to get to the Moon; we did not even know if people could eat in space.
It is also unfortunate that Mr. Gore should choose to use the failure of the
Mars Polar Lander as an excuse for not launching human explorers. Robotic
spacecraft have no self-correction or hazard avoidance capability and thus
historically have a failure rate 30 times that of piloted spacecraft. In the
1960’s, most of our robotic moon probes failed, yet all but one of our
piloted Apollo missions succeeded (And the one that failed, Apollo 13, will
inspire generations.)

Far from arguing against human exploration, if anything, the failure of the
robotic Mars Polar Lander argues for making the transition to the more
robust capabilities offered by human explorers at the earliest possible

Those people who support these candidates would do well to enlighten them as
to how deeply their misconstrued positions disappoint the aspirations of the
American people. Those people who support other candidates should encourage
their men to take a bolder stand, one more in keeping with the courage and
vision that built the nation.

Fortunately, all the candidates are campaigning before the public right now,
making them accessible to enlightenment by the readers of this bulletin. To
find out where your favorite candidate will be in the near future, see the
ìOperation Presidentî section at the Mars Society website at]


The failure of the underfunded Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander
missions has caused the robotic Mars exploration program to come under
attack by some of the same politicians whose penny-pinching set the missions
up for a fall in the first place.

In order to deal with this situation, it is important that those interested
in Mars exploration understand the facts. The essentials are these:

* It is true that a mistake over units by the JPL/Lockheed Martin missions
operations team was the immediate cause for the loss of the Mars Climate
Orbiter. However, mistakes have always been made on interplanetary missions.
The difference is that in the past there was a safety net in place to catch
and correct the mistakes. However, in the current excessively
cost-constrained environment, the MCO mission was being managed by a team
one-third the size of that which had handled a mission in the past.
Moreover, the downsized team was forced to run three spacecraft (Mars
Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander and Mars Global Surveyor) all at the same
time. Put simply, adequate resources were not provided. The team was
stretched too thin.

* The cause of the loss of the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) is unknown. However,
a probable explanation is that the MPL was lost by encountering excessively
rough terrain, such as a large rock (as almost destroyed Viking 1 in 1976)
or a crevasse. In order to have an acceptable probability of mission
success, robotic landers destined for contact with the unpredictable surface
of Mars must be launched in pairs. We could have had a second MPL for 40
percent more money. The limited budget of the robotic Mars program made this

The loss of the two Mars spacecraft this year is a tragedy, but not for loss
of money. The total bill for the two combined amounts to little more than $1
for every American. That is insignificant. The real loss is one of time.
Because of the underfunding of the program, two years have been lost. The
United States currently spends 2 cents per week for every American on Mars
exploration. We can afford to spend 4 cents a week and do it right.

The House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics has scheduled hearings on
the Mars program for February, and action may follow. It is imperative that
Congress not be stampeded by those who wish to use the mission failures as
an excuse to weaken the program.

Mars Society chapters need to take action. Call up your local representative
and ask for a meeting in his or her home office. If you are persistent, you
will get one. Tell your representative that the proper response to the
mission failures is not to give up, but to redouble our efforts.

There is a word in the English language for those who quit in the face of a
setback: Losers. Don’t let the anti-exploration crowd turn the United States
into a nation of losers.


The Mars Society mall continues to grow, with the latest addition being the
JC Penny’s department store. Now it’s really true: You can get anything you
want at the Mars Society Mall. It won’t cost you a cent (except for what you
buy!), and about 5 percent of all purchases ó from books, to clothes, to
airline tickets ó goes to support the work of the Mars Society. Just log on
to the web site at, and click through to your favorite
merchant. Shop for Mars!


The new millennium has finally come. As we look back at how far we have come
in the past century, and the past millennium, who can doubt that the next
century will see humanity established on Mars, and the next millennium among
the stars.

Failure is impossible.

Happy New Millennium!

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– Mars Society: “to Explore & Settle the New World”

SpaceRef staff editor.