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January 18, 2000

Norman Chaffee
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(281/483-2462)

Release: J00-4

High School Students to Plan Community on Mars

While living at Johnson Space Center the weekend of February 11, Houston area high school students will use their imagination and knowledge to design complete details of a human settlement on Mars in the year 2050.

One hundred and twenty students from Houston and Southeast Texas will participate in the Second Annual JSC Mars Settlement Design Competition, a program that was designed to introduce students to the technical, communication and teamwork skills they will need when they join industry. Organized into four “company” teams, the students gain the experience of working as a member of an aerospace industry proposal team. They will work against a deadline to design, develop and present a 30-page proposal of their concept of a human community on Mars to a team of local NASA and industry judges.

Teams will be mentored and coached by executives from NASA, Boeing and other aerospace companies who volunteer their time to guide the students’ efforts. Using technologies and materials currently available, the teams must plan a community that would support 10,000 residents. All aspects that would be necessary to actually complete the project must be considered in their proposal. These include design, construction materials, logistics including transport vehicles, power allocation, robotics systems, life support, a cost estimate and a schedule.

At the conclusion of the weekend, the teams will present their proposal to a panel of expert judges who will hold them to an exacting standard.

Once presentations are complete and while the judges make their final decision, the students will tour JSC for a behind-the-scenes look at Space Station facilities and the next-generation X-38 spacecraft currently under development.

Interested Houston area high school students are encouraged to ask their math and science teachers or school principals for more information about this project. The target deadline for registration is Friday, January 28. Information is also available at the competition website http://marsbase.jsc.nasa.gov.

The Mars Settlement Design Competition is one of the key events of NASA’s month-long outreach effort in support of National Engineers Week. The competition is hosted and sponsored by NASA Johnson Space Center, The Boeing Company, the Clear Creek Independent School District and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Media wishing to document the competition must contact the JSC Newsroom no later than noon, February 9 to arrange for accreditation.

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