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Time Capsule to Mars Details Mission Status at Small Satellite Conference 2015

Press Release From: Explore Mars
Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 12, 2015 – Student leaders of the Time Capsule to Mars (TC2M) mission converged on the Small Satellite Conference, being held this week in Logan, Utah, to release more details about their plans and mission status. The Small Satellite Conference 2015 is a 6-day event featuring weekend workshops with approximately 100 student, government, and industry presentations.

TC2M, an Explore Mars BE BOLD Technical Project, is a student-led project that is designing, building, launching, and landing the first privately-funded mission to Mars by 2018. Undergraduate and graduate teams from across the United States are on board, and technical development is well underway. The spacecraft will carry digital content uploaded by individuals from around the world. That content will be sent to Mars for future human explorers to recover.

Cassidy Chan, Lead Systems Engineer, a recent graduate of the Florida Institute of Technology and Modeling & Simulation Engineer at Draper Laboratory, and Sam Morton, from Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering and Deputy Mission Director for the mission, will present a workshop talk on the current vision and progress of the TC2M project. Veteran aerospace project management mentor, Ron Schlagheck, a former NASA Marshall Space Flight Center program manager, is also attending the conference helping the students seek new relationships with sponsors and scout out potential partners for a science investigations as part of the mission.

“There’s a whole new emphasis on using small satellite designs beyond low earth orbit,” says Duke’s Morton. “Just recently, NASA announced that it would send two cubesats to Mars to help with the organization’s InSight mission in 2016. Planetary Society’s LightSail project aims to send a cubesat-sized spacecraft into the interstellar void using the Sun’s photons to propel the spacecraft, also in 2016. More are queuing up. This conference is a place where we can share best practices and experience so we all can be more successful.”

“Interplanetary small satellites are now just becoming a new trend in the space world,” says Chan “No longer is spending over $100M necessary for sending a probe to another planet. TC2M is aiming to show that we can break the mold of the high cost missions to other beyond earth orbit objects. Attending the SmallSat conference let’s us collaborate and work with the small space community to help us achieve our goals, and help jump start our community.”

The mission will also be the first of its kind to test critical new technologies in propulsion and networking. TC2M is looking into advanced technologies including the use of quartz storage technology to preserve and protect the data for potentially several millions of years. The mission will also be a trial of ion electrospray propulsion developed at MIT, which was designed to reduce travel time to Mars. Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) will also be deployed to begin testing for a future deep space Internet communications network.

“There is so much which we can learn from these missions, and which we have to share about our mission with others, to collectively accelerate humankind’s spaceward march,” says Emily Briere, TC2M mission director. “We were fascinated by the data released by LightSail about what it learned in its test mission – we’re all trying to get to the same place – Space – and we can help each other get there.”

The TC2M mission is led by students at Duke University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Savanna School of Art and Design, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Connecticut – who are working to bring the mission to a successful landing in 2018.

“This mission represents the best of the future generation of space leaders,” says Chris Carberry, Executive Director and co-founder of Explore Mars, Inc. a nonprofit which was created to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. “The hands-on experience, the direct exposure to senior leadership in the industry today, and the teamwork that defines any space mission – these are the types of foundational programs Explore Mars is proud to be a part of.”

To date, more than $1m in donations and in-kind support has been raised for the mission. To upload images and become part of this historic mission to Mars, visit www.timecapsuletomars.com/#upload. Visit www.timecapsuletomars.com or www.tc2m.com for mission milestones or to learn how you can get involved.

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