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A Year on Mars

Season 1Episode 295Jun 30, 2023

Hear from the deputy project manager for NASA’s CHAPEA project as well as the volunteer crew of four who joined us a few days before entering the Mars simulated habitat for one year. HWHAP Episode 295.

The official mission portraits of the CHAPEA Mission 1 crew. (From left) CHAPEA Commander, Kelly Haston; Flight Engineer, Ross Brockwell; Science Officer, Anca Selariu; Medical Officer, Nathan Jones.

The official crew of CHAPEA Mission 1 poses for mission portraits. (From top left) CHAPEA Commander, Kelly Haston; Flight Engineer, Ross Brockwell; Medical Officer, Nathan Jones; Science Officer, Anca Selariu.

From Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars, explore the world of human spaceflight with NASA each week on the official podcast of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Listen to in-depth conversations with the astronauts, scientists and engineers who make it possible.

On episode 295, hear from the deputy project manager for NASA’s CHAPEA project as well as the volunteer crew of four who joined us a few days before entering the Mars simulated habitat for one year. This episode was recorded on June 15, 2023.

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Gary Jordan (Host): Houston, we have a podcast! Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 295: A Year on Mars. I’m Gary Jordan, and I will be your Host today. On this podcast we bring in the experts, scientists, engineers, and astronauts, all to let you know what’s going on in the world of human spaceflight, and more. Four humans are going to Mars! Well…sort of. Four individuals are about to embark on a year-long analog mission in a habitat right here on Earth that will simulate very closely what it would be like to live on Mars. The analog mission is called CHAPEA, or Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog. And more so than a technology demonstration or a human Mars mission dress rehearsal, the primary purpose of this study is human research – a deep study into understanding what life would be like if you had to be there for a full year. On this episode, we were able to sit down with the CHAPEA mission crew to gauge their thoughts a few days ahead of their first day in the analog. Now I know you’re excited to hear form the crew, but to help kick us off, we brought in CHAPEA deputy project manager here at the Johnson Space Center — Raina Infante. Before we chat with the crew, Raina describes the engineering behind the place that will be their home for the next year. We’ll talk CHAPEA science on an upcoming episode. So, with that, let’s chat with Raina Infante and then the CHAPEA crew ahead of their yearlong journey on Mars. Well, I guess technically Earth. But pretending to be on Mars. Not quite Mars but close enough. Uh, well, you get the idea. Ok here’s Raina!


Host: Raina Infante, thank you so much for coming on Houston, We Have a Podcast.

Raina Infante: Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to be here.

Host: Yeah. We’re only a couple of days away from ingress of CHAPEA crew. You’ve been working on this a long time. How do you feel right now?

CHAPEA Deputy Project Manager, Raina Infante.

Raina Infante: Ah, nervous, excited. You know, it’s a new analog. It’s big and a lot of effort has gone into it. So we’re all just really excited to get to June 25th.

Host: Exactly. And I, I, that’s exactly where I want to, what I wanna talk about. It’s just the effort and, and what this is. Um, setting the tone though, just your role. You are the deputy project manager for this entire effort, right? How long have you been a part of it? Where like, um, so, so… yeah.

Raina Infante: Yeah. So I’m kind of a, a fun relationship with the project because I started on it as an intern. So when I was in college, at the University of Georgia, I started in the Pathways program here at Johnson Space Center. And in my third rotation, I was, or I chose to go to EX3 which is your, the project management branch in, in engineering. And then I was assigned to the CHAPEA project as a, as an intern. And this was back when it was really just in the conceptual stage and they were, you know, starting to, uh, figure out, you know, what data they wanted to collect and, you know, the habitat design and things like that. So I started off as just an intern.

Host: Okay. When was that? What year?

Raina Infante: That was, uh, let’s see. It would’ve been in 2020 ’cause it was during the pandemic. It was an all-teleworking internship. It was really bizarre.

Host: Oh yeah. Interesting. Okay.

Raina Infante: Yeah. It was really bizarre ’cause I never met anybody in person and, uh, anyone on the team. And it was really amazing to just see how everyone was still working a hundred percent on this project to get it moving forward. And, um, I remember the last thing I did in July was start to collect those requirements for building the habitat. And, and start looking at different vendors. And that was the last thing I did as an intern before I went back to school. So, yeah. But it was all, all teleworking. Uh, ’cause it was during the pandemic, which was really interesting. And so, yeah then, uh, I went back to school for a year. I finished my last year of college, and then I graduated in May of 2021 and I came back to X three and got reassigned to the CHAPEA project.

Host: They sold you, you liked it. Yeah,

Raina Infante: They did. I really enjoyed the people that I was working with. Um, I really enjoyed just the engineering culture that’s here at, at Johnson. So I was like, you know what, that’s gonna be a good, a good spot. So when Pathways gave me my offer, I didn’t even look at any other companies. I was like, I’m sold. Yeah. I’m gonna come to NASA, it’s gonna be great. Which was, which was a big decision. ‘Cause I was moving halfway across the country, so, oh,

Host: Where’d you move from?

Raina Infante: Georgia. Yeah. So I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, then I went to school at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Host: Very cool. Yeah. I spent a little bit of time in Savannah, one of my, but when I was an intern in, the first place I interned at was Gulfstream Aerospace right there.

Raina Infante: Oh wow. That’s fun. Yeah.

Host: Yeah. It was good. And then, uh, right from my Gulfstream, um, the ne- I had back to back internships. The next one was NASA. I had the same thing. I was also Pathways and, uh, got immediately sold on it. It was, yeah. It’s, it’s just a really cool culture. So.

Raina Infante: Yeah. It is a really cool culture. And, uh, it’s really, um, really good people. I really, I think that’s what sold me. Um, you know, the, the awesomeness of what is done here is one thing, but the people were, were kind of a good selling point. Uh, so I came back in, um, summer of 2021 in July, and when I got here, they had started printing the habitat. So that was a really exciting place to come in on the project, especially given where I had left off. And, um, so at that point I was a, a low level engineer and then I just, you know, worked and worked and I eventually became the lead engineer, then worked and worked and became the deputy project manager.

Host: Hard work, just you rose through the ranks. That’s awesome. With more responsibility and more oversight. Now the interesting thing piece here is, so you went to college for, is, uh, how’d you end up in engineering? So you don’t, you’re not like a, you’re not a scientist, not like a human scientist which is part of this study, right? You’re on the engineering side.

Raina Infante: Right. So my undergraduate degree is in, uh, biological engineering. Yep. And, uh, so that’s how I ended up in the engineering world. But when I did two rotations here at Johnson, I did one at, in the software and robotics, uh, group, and then I did one out at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Okay. And, um, I discovered that I really like the project management aspect of engineering projects. So, um, it, it fit well with my skills, with things that I enjoy doing. And, uh, so that’s why I chose my last rotation to be in the project management group of engineering. And then it worked.

Host: So this is interesting because what we’re gonna be talking about here is like CHAPEA. The, the whole, the whole reason this habitat was built was for a human simulated mission to Mars. But your role and a lot of the work that you put in was from the engineering perspective. And am I right in saying that it was really the design of the habitat? You and your group were focused on making this habitat?

Raina Infante: Right. So the engineering team was responsible for building the infrastructure that would allow the science team to do their science. And be able to get their data. So it’s a little bit beyond just building the facility, though that was a massive effort and a large part of the job. Um, but it’s also the IT infrastructure and, um, some of the operational aspects that, that engineering, uh, manages. But it was really just building the entire infrastructure of the analog that would allow the science team to select four people, put them in this simulation, have it be Mars realistic and be able to collect that critical data.

Host: Yeah. So let’s, uh, let’s go into the habitat. Let’s talk about, like, we’re talking about this facility, we’re talking about all the capabilities within it. What is this thing? If someone came off to you and said, “Hey, what is, what is the Mars habitat?” Like, how would you, how would you describe it?

Raina Infante: Yeah. So I always call it the facility because it’s THE facility.

Host: The facility…

Raina Infante: Exactly. ’cause it’s so much more than the habitat. Um, but we’ll start in the habitat ’cause that is really fun to talk about. Um, so the habitat was designed with a lot of intentionality, I’ll say. It was designed with consulting on, um, uh, different Mars architecture folks who have been looking at different floor plans and you know, how floor plans could affect, uh, you know, a person’s psychology, how, you know, different shapes, windows or no windows. It’s amazing how much thought we put into the living space and it’s so important, right? And so, uh, NASA is looking at a lot of different habitat designs and materials for Mars. We have by no means picked just one methodology for, uh, habitat design and build, but one that we, uh, were intrigued by was the 3D printing. You know, that additive manufacturing capability that could be used on Mars. And so with CHAPEA, we thought it could be a good opportunity to just test out that 3D printing and, uh, see, learn about it, right? Learn how, uh, how the technology, you know, works. Where, where we would have to do more engineering to get it, you know, space ready but also, uh, and the, at the end of it, we would be able to test, you know, the humans in a 3D printed habitat, which, um, would be new for, for NASA. So that was a part of some of the logic that went into, uh, into the 3D printing choice . So, uh, the habitat was 3D printed and, and it has four crew quarters. It has a, uh, so one per crew member that was point of discussion has two bathrooms, also a point of discussion. Uh, things like that, you know, the workroom, exercise area, medical area, and a kitchen and, and rec space.

Host: Okay. All single level?

Raina Infante: All single level. That’s correct.

Host: Okay. And that was also probably a choice, right? If you’re talking about manufacturing and using these 3D printing capabilities on Mars, you know, that was, it would probably be a little bit harder to make like a three-story kind of thing.

Raina Infante: It would be more challenging. I do recall from when I was an intern and they were collecting all the requirements that we received proposals for multi-story, uh, uh, multi-story structures. But, uh, the final decision as, as we know, was to stay with a, a single, single story, uh, structure.

Host: If you think about like the square footage and try to compare it to something that maybe like, we understand like in terms of like the size of a house or apartment or something, how would you best equate, specifically, the habitat portion?

Raina Infante: So it’s the size of maybe a two bedroom apartment. Yeah. Something like that.

A sped-up timelapse of the inside of the CHAPEA, or Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, habitat located at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Host: Okay. And that is enough for, and like you said, a lot of thought, an incredible amount of thought that went into this. That is like, that was decided that this is, this can likely, very likely, um, be a good space for people to live for a year on Mars and not go insane.

Raina Infante: It was determined yes. That it would be a safe environment for, uh, us to perform this study. Yeah.

Host: Okay. Now you said there was a lot of pieces sticking with the habitat for just a second, there was a lot of consideration, a lot of thought. And you mentioned things like extra bathrooms. You mentioned, you mentioned things like windows. I don’t know if there’s, you know, hygiene facilities and stuff. So when you think about the logic of what it, what the thought really trying to capture what it is that went into this, what are some of like, the really the highlights that stick out to you that say, oh, that’s particularly interesting. I wouldn’t have thought of that. Like, that’s a need for a Mars crew.

Raina Infante: Right. Um, that’s a, that’s an interesting question because there’s a lot of, you know, the one thing that when people come and, and would do a tour, um, before we were, the facility had closed, I always pointed out as like, you notice the color of the walls. The colors are this reddish color because, um, because the idea with 3D printing is that you would use the natural regolith of, of Mars as the building material. And there was a lot of conversation about whether having, how red the walls should be, could that be a problem, um, for, for our crew members? And I always thought that was a very, you know, good example of the, just the level of detail, the precision that everything was, was decided on.

Host: Right. Not just… going beyond just accepting just, this is what we gotta use, this is how red the soil is. But actually thinking about almost from like an interior design perspective and how that interior design affects the human psyche. That’s the level of detail you guys are thinking about.

Raina Infante: Yeah. An extreme level of detail. And then there’s some things that, you know, may not be Mars realistic, but we just wanted to test, you know, like the, like the two bathrooms. You know, it may, it may not be Mars realistic to do too, because that’s, you know, more resource…more resources. But while we have the opportunity to, uh, build the structure, we can only do it once. Right? You can only build the structure once. So we’re starting off, you know, with two of them, it might be in the future we could do another experiment and only have one and be able to compare. So there’s a lot of versatility in, in the habitat and in the studies that could be done with it.

Host: Okay. Okay. Uh, the 3D printing process, um, it’s hard to conceptualize. Like if you think about building a house, you, you kind of have like a picture of what that looks like in mind, but how would you, how would you describe the 3D printing process for a habitat? For something like that?

Raina Infante: So how do I describe how it went? or how would it work on Mars?

Host: I guess, how it went for this particular facility?

Raina Infante: For this one?

Host: Yeah. We can lead into how it would work on Mars, sure.

Raina Infante: Yeah. So how it went was that we, um, had a contractor, uh, ICON who had their, who brought their 3D printer and their team. And we cleared out a building, building 220 here at Johnson Space Center. And they set up, and it’s really this big printing machine you can think of. Um, you know, every, if you’ve seen a small 3D printer, it has like a nozzle and it just moves around on a platform. But imagine that platform is an entire building. It’s like an airplane hangar. And, uh, it’s really big. And so what they did was, it’s the same concept, so it’s a very big machine, and it’s printing out, it’s extruding this concrete like material. And it would run for about 20, uh, almost 20 hours a day. And, and so it was, it was a very large team effort to, to keep that machine going for 20 hours a day for almost, um, a month or two, two months, really. Yeah.

Host: Wow. Uh, I guess, you know, through that 20 hours you had round the clock support or?

Raina Infante: Right.

Host: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. You had to have people watching it.

Raina Infante: We did, we did have round the clock support. So, um, of course our, the contractors were there to, you know, man, the machine, keep it, keep it, uh, going. And then, um, we had some of, uh, the JSC personnel who were, uh, there also to support. So I remember that, uh, I won’t say fondly, but that was my first two, two weeks on the job is I worked the night shift for 3D, for 3D printing. It was kind of fun because I would come in at, at 6:00 PM and the walls were, you know, four inches higher or something like that. And then I would sit from, you know, 6:00 PM to 3:00 AM and watch it grow. And then I would leave and come back and like, Ooh, it’s jumped another, another few, a few inches.

Host: Get to see the progress.

Raina Infante: Yeah. Got to see the progress.

Host: Did it go relatively smoothly or was there, you know, you had round the clock support, so was there any times where it’s just like, oh, you know, like this wall is not as structurally sound as this one or something like that?

Raina Infante: Not as structural, uh, not, not structural issues, but, um, we had challenges. We, we had some challenges while, while building it, some of the challenges included, you know, Houston’s a very humid place. And, um, that could cause challenges with some of the materials. And so we had to, uh, troubleshoot with that and, and, and get it done. When I say we, it’s, it’s, it was ICON’s team, but I sort of see everyone as one team, one team going for, for this. But anyways, so we had some challenges like that, you know, the, the part of the machine that, um, had, uh, the materials, uh, was like making up the mixture for the concrete that would be extruded. That was outside. So that was weather, uh, dependent . And Houston has very volatile weather. Especially in the summer. So…

Host: Uh, yep. Very aware. .

Raina Infante: Yes, so we had some challenges like that, but, um, we had a really good team and, and we were able to get through it.

Host: Awesome. Uh, quickly leading to, um, just you, you, you said like, as we were kicking off this discussion, you’re like, “do you mean here or this facility, or do you mean on Mars?” I think the idea here is it is something like we would see on Mars. It’s not the exact thing, but the idea is 3D printing, an additive manufacturing of a facility, of a habitat on Mars is a r ealistic endeavor. It’s a, it’s a, it’s sort of something that we would consider. I think that’s the idea that, that you were sort of alluding to, right?

Raina Infante: Well, it’s an option. So I will say, you know, 3D printing for homes has been utilized here in, in, uh, on Earth. So it is a proven concept that we could 3D print a home, at least here on earth. And have people, uh, live in it. Um, 3D printing it on Mars brings an entirely new challenge because of the personnel support. I think that where the future for this sort of manufacturing could be, would be helping it to become more and more autonomous. Uh, and then, uh, then, uh, on Mars, that autonomy would be very useful, very, very helpful and make it, um, ,ore, more viable, uh, of an option for us. So, I think, I think there’s definitely some more engineering work to, to go with this technology. And I think there’s a lot of great engineers out there who are so excited to, to push this technology forward. Uh, and in the meantime, we also have scores of engineers looking at, at all sorts of options.

Host: Okay. Because, um, yeah. Another thing you thought on that, on that idea of trying to figure out solutions and, and best practices, increased autonomy. The, the other thing that jumped out to me was scale. When you were talking about this particular facility and the way that the 3D printing worked, you, you sort of described it as how, how I imagine a regular, you know, 3D printing machine that can be confined in like, you know, a room in your house or a garage. Really just scaling that up to like a facility, like a building size that would be very difficult to transport to Mars. So, so, so very scalable solutions. Something that could print but doesn’t take up a ton of space.

Raina Infante: Right. And, uh, I think that scalability is, is a strength for additive manufacturing. Cause like I said, the, the idea, the, the concept is that you would use that natural regolith from the surface, so then you don’t have to, you know, launch building materials or walls or petitions and things like that. That’s the, that’s the, uh, you know, Utopic future.

Host: Yeah. Right, right. And so on that, going back, to back to Earth. Yes. And talking about this, this particular, um, ha we talked a little bit about the facility, but you mentioned that, sorry, we talked a little bit about the, the habitat, but you mentioned upfront, like you like to say the facility because there’s so much more, so beyond the habitat, what really makes CHAPEA the facility? What makes, what makes this whole thing?

Raina Infante: The facility of, of the analog. So what we have is we have the habitat, and then leading off the habitat, we have a node which, uh, allows us to attach an, uh, an airlock to, to the habitat. So it allows us to turn a corner, basically. So we have the node, and then we go into the airlock, and then we go, uh, into our area that is the surface of Mars. So if you, uh, it’s out a lot in the media now because of when we did media day that everyone, you know, loved our sandbox with, with the dome over it. And that’s our surface of Mars. And it’s really fun. You open the door for someone new coming through the facility and you’re like, welcome to Mars. And they’re like “whoa” this is amazing . Yeah. And so it has that great soil, uh, not soil, but uh, that great orange sand, uh, in the sandbox. And it’s, um, I dunno the exact square footage, uh, but you can find it on the website. And, uh, and you can, you, the, what we’ll be doing out there is the crew will be able to do some simulated Mars surface EVAs. And, um, and then off of that we have our virtual reality area. So there’s even more to it than just the sandbox. We have the virtual reality area where our crew will be able to do simulated Mars EVAs, uh, as if they were on the, on the surface of Mars. So, yeah. That was a pretty amazing, uh, engineering feat, uh, from, from our group there. Our partners, they’re actually in, um, the science directorate, uh, but it’s our H3PO (Human Physiology, Performance, Protection & Operations) team.

NASA's simulated Mars habitat includes a 1,200-square-foot sandbox with red sand to simulate the Martian landscape. The area will be used to conduct simulated spacewalks or

Host: For, specifically for the VR portion.

Raina Infante: For the VR portion, yeah.

Host: Okay. And you say simulating a Mars, uh, like Mars walk, uh, and a spacewalk or, or an extra vehicular activity and, and so beyond the sandbox, what’s, what’s the benefit of the VR?

Raina Infante: The VR is, um, it has a lot of benefits for the science because we were able to, uh, incorporate specific performance, uh, measures into our virtual reality EVA. So it has great scientific, uh, implications that, that will help us collect more data.

Host: Okay. They can maybe go a little bit farther than that they can than the square footage.

Raina Infante: Absolutely. Yeah. So that’s one of the really fascinating things is in our EVA area, they have these big treadmills and, uh, on what they can do is they’ll don their VR headsets, they’ll be dropped onto the surface of Mars, and then with these treadmills, they can walk, uh, pretty far distances on the surface of Mars in this virtual reality Mars world that they’ve built. And it’s pretty amazing.

Host: I bet. I would, I would love to download that to my VR headset and just kind of take a walk around.

Raina Infante: Take a gander.

A sped-up timelapse showing the 1,200-square-foot sandbox with red sand to simulate the Martian landscape. Here, the CHAPEA crew will do simulated Mars surface EVAs (Extravehicular Activity).

Host: Yeah, that would be pretty cool. Um, so it’s, in terms of the extra vehicular activities, is that where it stops is really just the suited walks? Is there a rover component or anything like that?

Raina Infante: There are, um, so is, there are rover components, but the crew isn’t in a rover going somewhere. It’s, we have a, a small rover that the crew controls from the inside and, and it can go further.

Host: Ah, I see. Okay, like a remotely opera, like a robotic rover, not necessarily robotic, like a, a pressurized or anything.

Raina Infante: Right. Exactly. We were confined due to resources to the building 220 areas, so no human pressurized rovers, uh, for this analog.

Host: Okay. Um, now, uh, we talked about, we kind of expanded beyond the habitat into what is the facility, but what I’d like to go into next is like the guts. So how, so obviously this, you know, I think what’s, what’s apparent here is what we’re trying to do is collect really good science. So there’s all the support infrastructure, right? There’s, you know, how, how, like everything from the, you know, well, from the engineering perspective, the livability component and like how you guys do the ECLS systems or the, the environmental stuff to how you’re actually observing and collecting data. So when it comes to beyond the facility, when it comes to the guts, like what’s helping to support this whole thing? What’s, what’s behind the scenes?

Raina Infante: What’s behind the scenes? Yeah. A lot of people . No. So more seriously, we have… what’s really pivotal for the analog, so for CHAPEA, is the, that we are trying to simulate a very Mars realistic life so that we can collect data on how those Mars restrictions affect their performance and health. Okay. And so, to create a very Mars realistic life, we started, you know, with what does, what, what would do we expect a Mars astronaut to be doing during their mission? Well, they’re gonna have to do some exercise, right? Everybody knows, for the most part, that astronauts have to do a lot of exercise due to the changes in gravity. So our, you know, they have a realistic timeline that includes things like exercise, uh, maintenance, uh, science time, um, let’s see, what else do they do? Yeah. Exercise, maintenance, science. That takes up a lot of time. And then they also have other things like, um, medical and psychological conferences and, um, outreach time, you know, time to engage with, uh, the public, uh, here on earth, even though it is still all subject to those Mars restrictions. So restrictions on, uh, water restrictions, on, uh, communication, time delays, restrictions on their, uh, food system, things like that. So, and then looking at all of that, we are collecting data on how their performance, both physical and cognitive performance, and their health, uh, changes over time. Over this 378 day mission. So that’s really what’s so unique about CHAPEA, is that integrated look at how these Mars restrictions, uh, affect the performance.

Host: And, and how you, how you sort of launched into this was you, you mentioned people. Right. And so there’s like, be beyond just the restrictions of the actual, like technology, right? You only have, you’re gonna have limited water, so you can’t just there’s, you can’t just pour from the faucet and have as much water as you want. You have to actually measure that, what that does. Um, you can’t run down the street and pick up Chick-fil-A or anything and bring it back to them. Like they are just confined to like no special treats. They just get what they get. Um, but, but there’s the whole support group of the people actually behind the scenes running this, almost like a Mars mission control that you guys have seen. And that’s 24/7, I guess,

Raina Infante: Right? So we have, um, our Mars mission control, and it has, um, it is run 24/7, and, um, there is a portion of it that’s subject to the time delay. So there’s a portion of our mission control that can, that is only, that is subject to the time delay restriction also. And then we have our other side, which is our safety, because this is still an experiment. And we value safety of our crew above, uh, everything else. And so we have our safety that can see everything real time, and there’s no time delay on them

Host: Okay. And that’s like separate from the…

Raina Infante: It is separate. Yeah. And so, um, so we have our Mars mission control, but then even beyond that, we have our science teams. So the scientists who are supporting, um, the extra, the different performance, uh, data that’s coming out, the physical performance, uh, data, also the cognitive performance data. We have science teams that are collecting that. Um, we have, uh, let’s see, physicians, uh, who are helping us support our crew. I mean, it’s, it’s a big team effort. Yeah.

Host: Yeah. It sounds like it. Um, are there any, uh, unique engineering tests or things? Because you, you mentioned like, for example, the 3D printing was just, it was a, it was a choice because it’s something, something like that could be considered for Mars mission. When it comes to the, the environmental systems when it comes to the water, water, um, recycling systems, anything like that? Is there anything like that that’s integrated into this mission?

Raina Infante: Into CHAPEA? Not into this mission. So what you’re referencing is, uh, an ECLS, so an environmental control life support system. And, uh, we do not have a closed loop system, uh, for our ECLS for, for things like that. Um, it, so we don’t have that, that’s not to say, you know, in the future after the CHAPEA campaign. So that’s, you know, the first we’re doing three missions of, of this. That’s not to say afterwards we couldn’t modify potentially to, uh, to include the testing abilities of an ECLS system, but it’s not, uh, a part of this facility right now. Yeah.

Host: Okay. Very cool. Um, I want to go into the crew. Uh, before we do though, I wanna make sure that I’ve done a good job of talking about the facility and making sure we’ve captured kind of what this place is.

Raina Infante: Yeah. Uh, I think we really dug in well. Um, so I, I think you, you hit it on the mark and fantastic. And I’m glad to get to share all this with, with you guys ’cause it’s, it’s pretty fascinating.

Host: It is. And that’s why I’m so happy to have you and, and, um, I you could, I could tell your energy you’re excited for this mission and I know that these crew members are too. Um, I can’t wait to talk with them. I’m talking with you first before we actually get a chance, uh, to speak with them. But, um, the crew that, um, was selected is very Mars like if you consider, um, uh, what it would like, what a Mars crew compliment would sort of look like, you know, you got the medical person, you have the commander, you have the flight engineer, you have science. Like, it’s, it’s a good mix of people. I’m assuming you’ve had a chance to meet them.

Raina Infante: I have. I have had a chance to, uh, meet them. I met them about halfway through their, uh, training month and it was, uh, they’re really a fun bunch. So I think you’ll really enjoy doing a conversation with, with our group.

Host: That’s great. Um, what have, talking with them, what, like what do you hear about their readiness or have, what, what have you briefed them on in terms of like the expectations? How have, how have all the pre briefings, things that like a Mars crew would actually kind of go through to prepare for that yearlong journey, how has that process been?

Raina Infante: Yeah, so our crew got here in May and they’re going through a very intensive one-month training. I mean, you can imagine how long we train our astronauts for, uh, their six month or maybe almost a one year on ISS. And it’s years and years, right? So our crew’s getting one month . Uh, it’s been intense, uh, but it’s been fun. Um, and so they are receiving training on everything from how to send an email to how to, uh, leave the habitat if there’s a fire, every, and everything in between. You know how to do the data collections properly and you know, what are the different, um, I don’t know, what are the different tools that we have in the habitat. So I think of that ’cause yesterday I did their inventory training. So it’s, you know, how do you find anything, we’ve stocked this habitat with everything they’re gonna need for a year. And they’re like, how are we gonna find anything in here? So , so we, um, we did that training yesterday. It was fun.

Host: Yeah. That’s awesome. So what does the next year look like for you then? What’s your role in…

Raina Infante: Once it starts?

Host: Once it starts.

The official mission patch for CHAPEA Mission 1.

Raina Infante: Yeah. So I will be two hatting it. I will have my deputy project manager hat. And, um, I will also have the hat of a mission operations lead. So one of the things that the mission operations lead does is they help lead the, uh, console operators. our mission control that I was talking about a little earlier, help them, help lead them so that we can give the best support to our crew members, um, you know, if a crew member calls down and they have a really detailed tech-oriented question, you know, we have to make sure, uh, our console operators already know they’ve been trained, they know who to contact, things like that. Um, but if there’s confusion, uh, then that’s where I step in to help lead, uh, the science team or help lead the, uh, mission control operators to make sure our crew’s getting, uh, the best level of support we can provide.

Host: So on the operations hat, um, it’s a little different from what we see for ISS, right? Uh, they have crew calling down, there’s conversations back and forth over the space to ground real time decisions can be made and we can get a decision relatively quickly within seconds, minutes if we need to discuss things a little bit more. Things are a little bit different. So you guys have established the operations in such a way that you are simulating these significant communications delay in between Mars. And I think it can be like, um, like it’s quickest is like eight minutes down, eight minutes back or something like that. And then it can be on the high, like it can be in the 20 minutes. Both like, each, one way, uh, on the far end when, when, um, Mars is a little bit farther. So you guys have that idea built into the operations.

Raina Infante: Into every aspect for the most part.

Host: Into every aspect, part aspect. ‘Cause the data too, the data has to travel that much.

Raina Infante: So their emails to family are time delayed, their communications to mission control are time delayed. And that’s a very challenging, uh, part of the restrictions that we, um, we will be seeing how it affects the crew. It’ll be, it’ll be exciting to, to see how that works out.

Host: If you take a snapshot at the operations and you sort of, and I’m using the, uh, ISS as a, as a example, um, I think the idea here is, what we would have to design an operations support system for Mars Mission to allow the crew as much autonomy as possible. So when it comes to the operations and you try to compare it to ISS, is it mostly hands-off and you guys are just in sort of a response mode? Or is there more proactive? Is there, is there regular, you know, is it more ISS like than maybe I’m imagining?

Raina Infante: I’m honestly not as familiar with how the, uh, dynamic is between ISS and, um, and the ground support team. Uh, I have heard from others who do support, uh, the, the ISS crew that, you know, uh, ISS they do a lot of different things all the time. You know, any one crew member could be running several different science experiments in addition to supporting the, you know, fixing the ISS, things like that. So, um, I am told that they are in a lot of communication with their ground support team. For our crew, what they will be doing, we have designed for them to be very autonomous, to be able to, to do it. We’ve, you know, created very detailed standard operating procedures. We have had this month of intensive training to, to teach them how to, uh, do all these different tasks. And then they do have a high level of autonomy because of the time delay that everybody is going to be subject, but they can always, uh, call down and by call down it’s really send a message down. Uh, ’cause you can’t do vocal communications. So send a message down and say, you know, um, my computer isn’t working, I can’t access this. And then that’s a kind of an interesting challenge that we’re gonna have to work with. Uh, right? We’re gonna have to say, okay, well we just got that message 15 minutes later and they only have 15 minutes left on their timeline for this task, so now we have to reschedule this task for late at the end of the day and send them back instructions. So it is very challenging on the operational side, but I feel very confident that we are poised with the team we have for, for success. Um, we’ve had good training, we’ve had integrated training between our console operators and the crew and, and it went quite well actually.

Host: That’s good to hear.

Raina Infante: And that was on, on a time delay too, so a pretty significant one actually.

Host: Good. Fantastic. Um, you mentioned the other hat, right? You, you have your deputy project manager hat so on. So when you’re not wearing the operations hat and you’re not doing console operations, what, what, what exactly are you throughout the mission?

Raina Infante: Yeah, so throughout the mission, well, one of the things that we want to try and do is start our second mission six months after the first mission ends. And so we’ve gotta turn around and start getting ready for the second mission not too soon after the first one starts. Um, and so that’s, you know, where the deputy project manager hat comes on is making sure our engineering team is, you know, getting ready so that when mission one ends, we can immediately hit the ground running on getting the facility ready for round two, you know, making sure we have all the supplies ready for round two and training ready and things like that. So it’s, it’s gonna be very quick. Yeah.

Host: Yeah. So the, yeah, this is, I think that’s an important thing to, to lead into is this is not just like a one and done isolated study. To get real good data, you need a decent sample size. Um, and so this is where you were, you were stressing the idea of, um, creating repeatability in terms of the, the study. And so what, I guess, uh, maybe a fair way to, to repeat what you’re saying is what we can expect for CHAPEA is to continue. We can see more missions and we can see more missions very much like this one.

Raina Infante: Right. Right. Yeah. So we do, uh, we have currently planned two more missions and, um, you can probably find the exact dates on, on the website, but for mission two, we would start, um, about six months or so, you know, there’s little wiggle there, uh, after the first mission ends. And then the third mission would be, um, six months after the second one ends. Right. And then we have the whole data integration and analysis, uh, process. And so it’s, uh, the work keeps going. It’s fun though.

Host: , I think. Yeah. It’s, it sounds like it, it’s gonna be a challenging, uh, what’s funny is that this, it’s, it’s gonna be a challenging, I wanna say it’s gonna be a challenging year, but for you, it sounds like it’s just, it’s just gonna continue, right? So, um, how are you setting yourself up for success for the future? And, but what I mean by that is you have a lot of hats to wear. You have to do console operations, I don’t know if you have to do odd shifts, right? Because you have to 24/7 operations. So how are you planning your life to support this mission as best as you can?

Raina Infante: Yeah. Well, you know, one of the important things about being, uh, on a team is having that team support, right? So I’m the deputy project manager, so we’ve got a great project manager and a really great, uh, principal investigator who support the project also, um, we’ll be able to, once the thing, once the uh, first mission gets started, we will be able to, uh, take turns, you know, supporting in that mission operations lead so that we make sure we’re addressing our, uh, project management responsibilities as well as making sure the, that the, uh, crew has their support as well. And it’s really just having that open communication with, um, with the project management leadership to say like “Hey, you know, we need more help here. Let’s go find that. Right. Help get them trained up and, and put them, put them in.” And then just being able to look down the timeline and say “Okay, Christmas is coming.” You know, “what are we, uh, who’s gonna be here? Who’s gonna, you know, uh, be going home?” You know, if I might go back to Georgia or something like that. And it’s just being very communicative with your team and, uh, you know, I took off recently for my wedding and I took almost a month off, and that was right before crew training started. And, you know, I had a great support team and they were like, yeah, don’t worry about it. We got you covered. And that’s great. And I came, that’s, I came back and we were in the middle of crew training and everything was going perfectly. And so, you know, we have a really good team, uh, and really good leadership on our, on our team and a lot of good, uh, engineers and scientists supporting our leadership too.

Host: Very good. Well, Raina Infante, this was awesome. To be able to talk to you. I feel so much better informed about the kind of the space and the operations and the behind the scenes. So wishing you and the team that you have the best of luck for the next year plus, um, for and I hope you, hope you get, uh, some really good science and everything goes according to plan.

Raina Infante: Absolutely. You’ll, you’ll have to have me back and I’ll tell you how it went, uh, at the end of the year. Okay?

Host: I, I certainly will. Thank you, Raina. All right. It’s

Raina Infante: Been a pleasure.

The CHAPEA Mission 1 crew with the official mission patch. (From left) Science Officer, Anca Selariu; Flight Engineer, Ross Brockwell, Commander, Kelly Haston, Medical Officer, Nathan Jones.

Host: All right. It was a pleasure to talk with Raina about CHAPEA and the habitat and everything that went into the design of, uh, the CHAPEA mission and the, uh, technology behind it. Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for… the CHAPEA mission crew, the four quote unquote astronauts, uh, that have been selected are very astronaut like, and they agreed to participate in this ground-based study in the name of science. So the CHAPEA mission commander is Kelly Haston. She’s a registered member of the Mohawk Nation and of the Six Nations of the Grand River in Canada. She’s a research scientist by trade with experience building models for human disease. She’s spearheaded innovative stem cell based projects, deriving multiple cell types for work in infertility, liver disease, and neurodegeneration. Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Biology and a Master of Arts in Endocrinology from the University of California Berkeley, and a Doctorate in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California San Francisco and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where she combined animal and cell-based approaches to discover biological defects associated with infertility. Haston’s postdoctoral work at both Harvard University and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and UCSF’s Gladstone Institutes focused on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Ross Brockwell is the CHAPEA Mission Flight Engineer. From Virginia Beach, Virginia, Ross is a structural engineer and a public works administrator. His work focuses on infrastructure, building, design, operations, and organizational leadership. Ross earned a Bachelor of Science and Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and a Master of Science and Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He holds professional certifications from the US Green Building Council, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, and is a Certified Planning Commissioner. Nathan Jones is the CHAPEA Mission Medical Officer. From Springfield, Illinois, Nathan is a board certified emergency medicine physician specializing in pre-hospital and austere medicine. He currently works as an emergency medicine physician, emergency medical director, and tactical medical physician at Springfield Memorial Hospital. He’s also an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a medical doctorate from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. Last but certainly not least is the CHAPEA Mission Science Officer, Anca Selariu. Originally from Romania, Anca is active in the US Navy as a microbiologist. She earned a Bachelor’s of Philology from the University of Transylvania in Romania, as well as a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry from Montclair University in New Jersey. Anca has a Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and she has a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Prion Research Center from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Anca’s experience spans viral vaccine discovery and manufacturing, prion transmission, gene therapy development, and infectious disease research project management. No stranger to having to spring into action when duty calls, Anca was originally assigned as a backup crew member for CHAPEA. Just five days before ingress, the same day we recorded this interview with her, Anca was bumped up to the prime slot. These individuals best represent based on what we know today, the makeup of a Mars crew. During their journey, they will be put to the test by simulating how as a group they can deal with resource limitations, communications delays, and other environmental stressors. It was a pleasure to have a chance to chat with them ahead of ingress. There was a lot of energy and excitement, and it was interesting to notice how well they all seem to get along already. So, you know they’re general bios, but let’s dive in a little more on who these folks are and what drove them to participate in such an endeavor. Let’s go.

Host: Kelly, Ross, Anca, Nathan, thank you so much for coming on Houston, We Have a Podcast. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be talking with you because I feel like your mission is just incredibly interesting and the fact that I get to actually chat with each of you before this and just kind of gauge your thoughts, I am just so looking forward to it. I want to go around just so our listeners get familiarized with your voices. Kelly, why don’t we start with you. Um, I’ve, I’ve teed up, uh, this conversation by going through a little bit of each of your bios, but, um, tell us kind of through, through your career progression, how you got to where you are that you think sets you up very well to be commander of this mission.

Kelly Haston: Oh, well thank you for, for the question. Yeah. So, uh, I am a stem cell biologist and I, uh, build models of human development and disease, um, using and, and study different, uh, diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, um, liver disease and so forth. Um, but I’m also extremely interested in issues around lunar biology and the way that we’re actually developing tools to make sure that people are as healthy as possible in space. And so there’s a lot of modeling, um, that is in my field that actually involves, you know, people working out how to deal with radiation or, or bone, uh, density loss and so forth. So I really was sort of following that field for a long time, coming into, uh, the, this opportunity. Um, and, uh, so there’s sort of the science side of myself. And then on the sort of flip side of my interest in science, I’m also an avid outdoor person. I’ve done a lot of field biology, and I also do a lot of trail running and ultra-running. So I’m also used to being in resource, sort of, limiting settings and being out on my own for long stretches where I’m really dependent on either myself or a small group of people to really, um, uh, sort of survive or, or make do, um, and really get through some pretty intense settings, like a hundred-milers or, or more. So when I saw this opportunity, it felt like a really good fit for my different skill sets, both my personal and my professional. Um, and I just was really excited to actually start to engage with the tremendous group of people that I met during the, the application and evaluation process.

Host: Wonderful. And it’s hap- and I’m so happy to get to talk with you. How are you feeling in this moment? We’re just a couple of days from ingress. Do you feel nervous, excited? You feel pretty good?

CHAPEA Mission 1 Commander, Kelly Haston.

Kelly Haston: Yeah. I mean, we’re, I’m definitely nervous. Okay. Um, but in a good way, like, I think we’re really ready. Uh, it’s been a really intense month of training since we landed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Um, but honestly, I feel like we’re all just really ready to get in there and get the mission started. And, you know, also our families have really contributed to this. So getting started also means that, you know, we’re, we’re heading back to them soon, you know, within a year or two. Right, right. So that’s actually part of the, the excitement is they’ve gotten us here, we’ve gotten ourselves here, and, and the program has gotten us here. So I’m really, I’m really excited to start.

Host: Very good. Well, thanks again for, for, for coming on. Ross, how about you? Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are.

Ross Brockwell: Well, I’m from Virginia, Virginia Beach. I’m an engineer. Structural engineering was my specialty. Um, been doing engineering management operations, uh, management for the last few years. So it’s infrastructure mostly. So transportation and natural resource management, and always been interested in the space program and always been interested in habitat design. And I do kind of, um, city planning is part of what I do, kind of, you know, infrastructure, city, city maintenance and operations. So building out, um, you know, space stations and moon bases and Mars bases is always something I’ve thought might, you know, might be able to get into and help inform. So that’s, um, you know, that’s my background and my interest in this.

Host: All right. Yeah. You feel, how do you feel ahead of this mission? You feel like you kind of have a good understanding of the Mars habitat and kind of what you’re gonna be doing and…

Ross Brockwell: Yeah, I think so. I’m also super excited, so I think it’s gonna be fun.

Host: All right. Very good. Glad to have you. Anca, welcome. It’s been quite an, uh, exciting day for you, huh?

Anca Selariu: It has been an exciting day. And, um, now I know what it feels like to be in the eye of a tornado.

Host: So a little bit of background is, uh, today is the day that you found out that you were going to be officially joining and bumping up to the slot of the prime crew, right?

Anca Selariu: Indeed. And, um, it’s, um, it’s going to be a process for sure.

Host: Yeah. All right. Well, tell us a little bit about your background. What got you prepared to, to be ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice and, and, uh, be in a habitat for a year?

Anca Selariu: Well, um, I think the main thing that allows me to be ready at a moment’s notice is my, um, my experience as a military service member, uh, in the US Navy. The, um, the first thing that we learn is how to be ready within hours of a call. So that makes things a little bit easier on that front. But what brought me here in, here at NASA Johnson Space Center trying to do this, is my, uh, friends would call it obsession with Mars. I, I feel like every single time I see the Red Planet, I’m thinking of ways of how, how, how it will feel to actually see that first step on Mars and, uh, what it will feel like for the entire planet to look up and to see it again, humanity actually getting, getting there and all, uh, of that because we have the science and we have the passion to do that. As far as my background is, uh, is really quite a mixed bag. I’ve always liked science and I’ve liked, um, knowledge and in, in various fields from linguistics and, and science of the text to, uh, biochemistry and, and biomedical sciences. So I swirled kind of all over, um, and search for more knowledge, which I seem to hoard and then bore people .

Host: I, I don’t, I can’t even imagine it being boring. And I think it’s perfect for this crew, right? Because you, like, if you have, if you’re hyperfocused on one little area, you know, how how beneficial is that gonna be, that that gonna be to the community? Whereas if you have this broad sweep of interests and desires and experience in certain things, I mean, if you think about a Mars mission, there’s gonna be a lot of scientists that want to contribute to a mission. And so if you have an understanding of each one of them, you could be a good conduit for conducting that science.

Anca Selariu: That’s what I’m hoping.

Host: Alright. Very good. Well welcome, Anca. Nathan. Uh, how are you feeling?

Nathan Jones: Feeling good, thank you.

Host: All right. Tell us a little bit about your background. What got you right here?

Nathan Jones: Yeah so I think probably the simplest way to describe it is, uh, just kind of a history of, uh, austere medicine. And I guess what I mean by that is, uh, if you back up to where I was probably pre-teen, I had the opportunity to get involved with international medical missions, uh, with my, uh, family. Uh, from that I kind of fell in love with, uh, you know, just that sort of thing. And it led me into emergency medicine as a career. So I’m an ER physician, uh, by trade. Um, some of the things I’ve gotten to do with that are the international medical missions, um, but also had the opportunity to be a flight physician in a helicopter, um, do tactical medicine as well. Um, and, you know, just through the opportunity to find solutions where maybe no one’s ever had the opportunity to, but just also to, um, to work with limited resources to find some creative solutions has always been something I’ve enjoyed. And that’s, uh, probably the, the biggest thing that, uh, brought me to, uh, this program.

Host: So let’s, let’s start telling stories of why did you all do this? This is to me just absolutely insane. Like, if I think, “Hey, we’re gonna lock you in a room for a year and you can’t go and you can’t talk to your family real time” and that sort of thing, it’s, it’s, to me, it’s so, it’s so limiting. Right? And so I wonder, I wonder, when you heard about this opportunity, what made you say “you know what? That is, that is for me.” Nathan, why don’t we, why don’t we continue with you for for just a second, ’cause, um, what made you say, what, how’d you find out about this and what made you say “yes, I’m gonna try”?

Nathan Jones: Yeah so a couple things there. Um, one conversation we’ve had quite a bit as a group is like, what’s normal? You know, what’s normal for people to do, you know? And, you know, and we kind of said we’re not normal, you know, but that’s okay ’cause uh, you know, normal can sometimes be boring, not always, you know? Normal’s good sometimes, but, you know, and I think we’re all, uh, a little bit abnormal in the right kind of way. And, um, and, and for me, that abnormal is that, um, as an ER physician, I worked a lot of night shifts. As a matter of fact, I was only working nights for about six years. And the reason I left is, uh, as part of, uh, my, uh, participation in this. But I was on night shifts, and I’ve never been the kind of person who, um, watched TV and, and that sort of thing. And so, but always been kind of a busy body, always been into tech. And I remember I was between shifts and so I was up late and I was probably like 2:00 AM nothing to do, and I was just went down an internet rabbit hole. And, and what I saw was there was a website, and I can’t remember which one it was, but it was a tech website, and it said “Do you wanna go to Mars for a year?” And I’m like, sure. Who doesn’t? You know, I mean, sure.

Host: That’s not everyone’s response though, right? It’s not mine.

Nathan Jones: Right. So, you know, the right kind of abnormal .

Host: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good.

Nathan Jones: But I, but I read the website and it sound, I, they obviously inferred, you know, at first you’d be going to real Mars, but I mean, I was smart enough to realize, you know, there’s something else to this, you know, that’s click bait. But, uh, you know, they in indicated what the real mission was. I followed it to NASA’s website, uh, about CHAPEA. And, um, I think it was either that night or maybe the next night, I actually went ahead and applied. And what I thought was interesting, just through the application that they had, the things that they were interested in, I felt like I had a particular, uh, ability to say, yeah, I’ve done that, you know, and have some experience there. So, strangely, I thought, I didn’t expect to get picked, but I, I thought it was interesting that I thought I had a decent enough chance to go ahead and apply.

Host: Perfect, perfect. Kelly, how’d you find out about this? What made you say yes?

Kelly Haston: Yeah, so, um, my partner actually found the opportunity. So I had thought about working at NASA many times over the years, but I’m, I’m actually Canadian. And in 2021, I got my green cards. I did all my training in the us, I did all my school here. Um, and then when I started working in industry in biotech, um, I was lucky enough to then get my green card through that, that work. And so this landed about this, this opportunity landed in the press, and he found it on Hacker News. Um, and he said, he looked over at me and he said, this is a really cool opportunity that I think you’re gonna be really, you know, it, it kind of suits you. And I said, oh, it’s NASA, like I can’t do it. I’m not eligible. And he said, oh, they’re calling for green cards as well, green card holders, and not just American citizens.

Host: Oh, they checked. Wow.

Kelly Haston: And so that was really exciting for me, and he sent me the link and it was a Saturday afternoon, and I remember it really well. We just finished having a run, and then we were sitting having, you know, like breakfast or something, and he sent me the link and I didn’t move out of the spot for six hours. I just sat there and filled out the application. And it was a pretty long one. And it had some repetitive questions and things, but I just remember like every single one was like, oh, yeah, I totally have a cool answer for this.

Host: I love it, Kelly. Ross, uh, how’d you hear about this?

CHAPEA Mission 1 Flight Engineer, Ross Brockwell.

Ross Brockwell: I had a friend send it to me, so one of my closest friends saw it before I did and, and just sent it to me and said, you know, this is all you, you gotta take a look at this. And so similarly, I opened it and kind of immediately started filling it out. Just reading it and filling it out was really fun and, you know, made me think of some thoughts I used to, you know, think about a lot and my youth and over the years, you know, kind of stirred the passion I’ve always had for it. And over the course of the next couple weeks, I had a couple more friends say, send, send me a link and say “Hey, this sounds like you” so it was really funny.

Host: That’s how, you know, you’re doing the right thing by filling out that application.

Ross Brockwell: So, but yeah, that process, the whole process has been really interesting, really amazing.

Host: Used to dream about being an astronaut as a kid?

Ross Brockwell: Yeah, I did. Yeah.

Host: Awesome. Yeah. What, uh, what inspired you? Is there any particular mission? Was Apollo 11 or maybe shuttle or something, or it’s just kind of a general dream?

Ross Brockwell: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, just generally, I mean, I remember the shuttle when I was young, just being fascinating and, you know, the whole idea of kind of making it more accessible and being able to repeat missions and, you know, just was always wanting to go out there and, you know, learn as much as we can and get as big a perspective as I could. So it’s always been interesting.

Host: I think it’s, I think it’s fantastic, right? ’cause you’re, you just think about this outlandish goal and then you, and then you just sort of dive into your career and that just becomes like just a childhood passion. But then something like this comes up and it kind of re-, like you’re saying like, like you just described, it kind of reignites it. And especially when you have that validation from all your friends, Hey Ross, you wanna, you wanna apply to this? It kind of validates like, hey, maybe I am kind of suited to do something, something as crazy as this.

Ross Brockwell: Yeah. And it just seemed like an opportunity. I mean, I, when I was younger, I was kind of always hoping that this would happen in our lifetime, you know, so timing wise, you know, hard to say when it’ll actually happen. So this seemed like an opportunity to make a real contribution to the process. And if the real mission isn’t for a few years away, at least I can kind of do my part. And, you know, and in all sincerity, I was really excited by the possibility of, of adding to the process and doing something to help us get there.

Host: Very good. Very good. Anca what about you? How’d you hear about this?

CHAPEA Mission 1 Science Officer, Anca Selariu.

Anca Selariu: I think I probably looked on NASA’s website. Um, and I was, I think I had been home for about five months after 332 days at sea, so it seemed only natural to want to go back to being away from society. I’m kidding.

Host: Five months was too long.

Anca Selariu: So, um, yes, I had spent enough time in, in on dry land, so I figured this would, this would be a good, uh, change of pace. But really when I saw, saw that it was about Mars and it completely matched my, my obsessions and my, um, some of, some of my experiences. I knew what it’s like to be away from family. I knew what it’s like to be away from friends. I knew what it’s like to live in a box for, um, an extended period of time. And I knew what it’s like to have the support and friendship of the people around you and how important that is. So, um, all of those really contribute, uh, uh, contributed to me thinking that this might actually work.

Host: And here we all are. This is, uh, so awesome to have you now. Um, tell me about the process, uh, of, you know, once you’re selected, the training and the, and the preparation. What have you guys been going through? Kelly, we’ll go back to you. Um, what have you guys been doing up to this point to prepare for your ingress? Which is just a couple of days away.

Kelly Haston: Yeah, yeah. So, um, we as a, as a crew were selected last summer, but there was actually a delay due to supply chain issues and other, other, and, and also there was a little bit of, um, increase in scope that the, that they needed to actually go through a process for. So a lot of teams or a lot of divisions on, uh, here got really interested in it. So there were some additions to the mission. So we ended up actually waiting a long time as a crew after selection. So originally we were slated to go in September, 2022, so we would’ve been selected and almost immediately reported for training. Instead we actually had almost a year to, to sort of think about it, you know, put our families into a good place. So there’s kind of both pieces, right? There’s the piece that you do professionally and personally to put your, your life to bed, so to speak, or to sleep. And then there’s also that part when we get here. So everyone has a different story for how they did their, their work and their family. But that was nice to have the additional time to do some of that work and, and, you know, make sure everyone was understanding the goals, help, like, and, and giving, getting time to really spend with you. Um, but since we’ve been here, it’s been fast and furious. So we had just a little over a month of training. Um, and, and NASA has really, and, and all the teams that are supporting us and and getting us ready have really shoved a tremendous amount of knowledge and, and, and helped us touch like almost every part of the mission, even if it’s just briefly, so we know where something is in the habitat. So we’re really going through some really intense, like in-depth training so we can do certain things and then other stuff, they’re like, here, this is, in the mission you will get instructions and you’ll go through them and learn it then. So it’s been really a mixed bag of that, but really an intense period, which I think has really helped us gel and then get together. So, um, but I think we’re also still in this final week, and I don’t wanna speak for everyone else, but I will say we still have some work maybe in that final week to really get your head into the space of entering the habitat that, that depth of sort of like readiness. And so I, I feel like we are rolling towards that, but we, we probably have a few more days.

Host: Have you, uh, have you been taking all this training together? Like everything is just as a unit or is it all kind of individual? So like at your own pace? Ross we’ll go to you.

Ross Brockwell: It’s been a mix. I mean, there’s a lot of things that are, you know, trained as a crew, but then we have individual things that we have to break off and do. So the, the schedules mixed.

Host: What are some of like the quote unquote classes that you guys have to take in a really compressed period?

Ross Brockwell: So I mean, everything you’d expect, we have been trained on the systems we’re gonna be using, but also training on, you know, self-care and conflict management and you know, those kinds of things too. The psychology of it.

Host: Okay. Yeah.

Ross Brockwell: You can explain that Kelly if you want.

Kelly Haston: Oh, I was gonna say, we’ve also trained a lot on, on virtual reality because we’re going to use that to actually mimic being on Mars at times. And that’s been a, and they’ve gotten actually probably about a week of our time really to train on that.

Host: A week. Uh, within the month. Oh, a week is just the virtual reality.

Kelly Haston: I think it’s been about 40 hours.

Nathan Jones: Yeah, I think he said it was a 40 hour target.

Kelly Haston: Well, we haven’t been working 40 hour weeks in fairness.

Host: Longer than 40?

Ross Brockwell: Been long weeks. Yeah.

Host: Really?

CHAPEA Mission 1 Medical Officer, Nathan Jones.

Nathan Jones: 12 hour days on average and yeah, I mean, so five, at least five days a week.

Kelly Haston: Sometimes extra too.

Host: We’re recording this at five o’clock at night and, uh, like I was saying, “Hey, do you guys have a hard out?” And you’re like, “yeah.” , like, “we got stuff after this.”

Nathan Jones: I think that what’s, you know, it’s, it doesn’t feel like that though, you know, really. I mean I think we, for the most part, I mean there’s maybe a couple lectures here and there where you’re like, rehashing some information you’ve had a couple times already, you know, at some point and you’re like, yeah, let’s get to the cool stuff, you know? But I mean, for the most part it’s like, you, you don’t feel that because you, honestly, I looked at them so many times and they’ve looked at me and been like, this is so cool. How, how did we get to do this? You know? And it’s also like, remind me that in six months.


Ross Brockwell: The VR is maybe one of the good examples of that ’cause it’s, you know, they’re long days and they’re, it’s technical and you know, there’s troubleshooting and all that. But it’s so fun and it’s so cool. You’re simulating the surface of Mars and you get to walk around and do the science of, you know, what you would be doing on Mars for real. And it’s so immersive and it’s gorgeous and it’s just really, it’s really satisfying and energizing.

Host: That’s the fun stuff. I’m picking up all already, just an energy. Like in the, in this particular group, like it seems like you guys got to like, even you guys are already gelling ’cause you’ve been spending so much time together and you’re about to spend a lot more. Can you guys describe like day one when you first like walked in and you were about to meet the folks that you were gonna be sort of with for the next, uh, year? Whoever wants to start. Yeah, go ahead.

Nathan Jones: So that moment, uh, actually came last summer. Um, we had a, uh, trip out, uh, to Wyoming that NASA scheduled for us as a kind of replication part of the process for the astronaut candidates. And um, so we knew when we went there that while there were people there who would not necessarily end up being the crew, we knew there that everyone who would end up being crew was there. And so at that point we knew we were meeting everyone, right? And so it was really kind of a special moment kind of getting to see all the people looking around at that room and being like, Hey, these, you know, these are my people, you know, .

Host: Exactly. That’s awesome. Anca, did you have like a particular mindset when you went into something like this? Like, like going out and saying, I want to be the best me, or I wanna be like extra social, or I wanna know who I’m gonna go with. Is there any any kind of like physical, yeah. Your reaction is like, ah, no, not at all.

Anca Selariu: I don’t know what that is.


Anca Selariu: I only have one mindset.

Host: Huh?

Anca Selariu: This mission must be a success. That’s it.

Kelly Haston: That’s not entirely true. Anca is sort of a mix between a pixie, a dragon and like gold dust .

Host: I have no idea what that means.

Kelly Haston: She has a mindset that is just…

Nathan Jones: Talk to her for about 10 minutes. You’ll know exactly what she means. .

Kelly Haston: So while the mission is all, I would say that you also grab life and kind of shake the, the stuffing out of it routinely, regardless of what you’re doing.

Host: That’s not, so yeah, you guys got a chance to really know each other’s kind of quirks and personality.

Anca Selariu: Actually we hang, we hang out a lot really beyond, beyond the of 12 hours of, of training together because it’s, this is the first time in my life that I’m actually in the same room with people who are of the same mindset and are just the right kind of abnormal and all of them want to do this for people to get to Mars safely. So it’s, it’s incredible. At the end of the day, I feel like I have more energy and you can stuff five days into one and I can do it. It feels for the first time that this is it, this is, this is alive, this is, this is so good for the, the whole planet. It’s just, it, it it’s vibrating in my head.

Host: Do you guys each have the same level of energy at the end of the day?

Ross Brockwell: I don’t think I can match Anca’s, but I, I do think aside from that comparison, yes, I mean it’s really inspiring and energizing. I mean, there’s a deep shared passion, a deep shared inspiration and, and then, you know, complimentary personalities and skillsets. It’s just, it’s really gratifying to be a part of that. It’s, it’s great.

Host: What do you guys think makes a good team member? Seems like you’re all, you’re all gelling really well, you all kind of are, are have this mindset of like what it takes to beat like that right amount of abnormal is this theme that you guys keep going back to, but what do you think it takes to be, what maybe it is that abnormality that, that it is takes to be a really, a really good Mars crewmate? And maybe it is, there’s something about your personality where even after a 24 or a 12 hour day, at the end of the day, you can still be energized by your crew member’s presence. What do you think it is, what do you think makes a good crew mate?

Ross Brockwell: I mean, I think it’s a, it’s a kind of a self-awareness and a mutual awareness. You know, it’s an empathy and sensitivity to the others’ needs and thoughts and just a lot of, uh, nuance to understanding what motivates ’em and what, uh, what’s agreeable to them. You know, I think it’s, um, there is just sort of a nonverbal communication that helps support all that stuff. I mean, we have a basic understanding of what the other’s desires and likes and dislikes are. So just being in tune to that and being responsive to that as a central part of it.

Host: Anca you spent a tremendous amount of time in a sort of isolated environment, right? You said on a ship and there’s, you know, more people than, than this experience, but you kind of have an idea of what it’s like to be in that confined space. Do you have, uh, what’s, what’s your approach to being on that, uh, on, on a ship that maybe translates very well to this experience?

Anca Selariu: Uh, the awareness of it being hard at times. And the fact that now I have playlists for every one of the moods that is likely to afflict a member of the crew at, um, a given point. So I’ve experienced pretty much everything that a human can experience on, on a ship from, you know, the joy of making, of very, very deep friendships to the loss of a parent. So, um, it’s, it’s been, it’s been very revealing to understand what, what a human can actually go through while away from, uh, from the people that they love while having to make friends anew on a completely, in a completely different environment. But the, the need for trusting and leaning into, uh, a situation and, and being able to rely and look at, look at the people around you and, and they would know, and you, you can go to them with what you need and what they need is extremely important for this.

Host: There seems to be, what I’m hearing is a good balance of understanding yourself and understanding the people around you.

Anca Selariu: Precisely, and accepting the things that you get to feel. To own them and not shun them, but share them because they’re important lived experiences and they’re going to be very hard. And I cannot even imagine what the, what the people that will go to Mars will go through. And it is for them that we’re doing this.

Ross Brockwell: I think that trust is a big part of it too. I mean, we all, we all know that the others have all of our interests in mind, our best interests in mind. So if something momentarily might make you question that, you know, you can immediately dismiss it and you know, you know they’re there for you and you know, they care about you and you know, that trust is, is a foundation

Host: Relying on the people around you. Nathan, did you have something similar in the night shift? That’s a long, you said six years, right? Was, was the night shift, that’s a long time to have, I mean to me it’s, it’s associated with a lifestyle, working during the night, sleeping during the days. You have to have a certain mentality to approach that and be sustainable for six years. What are some of the lessons from having the night shift for so long that you’re gonna take into this?

Nathan Jones: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a, a special type of comradery that you have to develop and, um, I would translate that, uh, to this specific mission as what we’ve, I think at least before, identified as what we call expedition mindset, expedition behavior. And so, yeah, I mean, we go, we’d work 12 hour shifts and you know, I think a lot of the nurses and uh, physicians in my situation, we go without getting a chance to eat or drink or, you know, bathroom breaks and stuff like that. ’cause you’re just doing your best to, to care to the demands of, of the needs of the people that you’re serving, you know? And I think that translates pretty well to something like this, you know? We’re gonna work some long days and, um, you know, it’s a whole lot of putting everyone else before you. And you still have to remember that sometimes I, it’s unsafe to, to you forget about yourself completely. So you still have to make those moments. Um, sometimes your crew mates have to be like, Hey, you need to go do this now, you know, you need to go do this and care for yourself now. You know? And so I think there, there’s been a lot of, of those sorts of things that, you know, you learn in emergency medicine. You also learn, you know, on expeditions sort of like this.

Host: Kelly, as the mission’s commander you have, you know, it seems like what I’m hearing is there’s this sort of shared approach, honestly, to making sure that you’re all good, that you’re checking on one another, that, that you’re looking out for your own best interests. I wonder if you have some approach that you’re taking into this mission as the commander, some sort of level of responsibility, or may maybe it is the shared approach, maybe that is your approach. What’s your, how, how are you going to be a leader for this mission?

Kelly Haston: Um, I think that… I think that I agree with the idea of the shared approach. Um, you know, with a group that’s so capable and has such a strong sense of self, but also of their expertise. Like we’ve kind of talked about how we’re willing to express our vulnerabilities, ask for help when we need it, hand off to people when you, when you actually need that break or, or take feedback like Nate, you need to drink more water, um, when you don’t have, when you have more pee bottles left than everybody else on a sampling day. So I think that, you know, and, and when, when it does go wrong or when you do have a bad interaction, being also brave enough to be like, Hey, did that suck for you? Or are you okay at, or did I say that too sharply? And are you all right with that? So I think that that’s one of the things that we already have and have been building and will build even more strongly. Um, so I’ve never really thought about this, um, and earmuffs NASA, ’cause I’m not sure if they think about it that way, but I’ve never really thought about this as a leadership role. I’m a crew mate that has some responsibilities that are different than others and they’re organizational for the most part. And some of it will be checking boxes or making sure that, you know, NASA is hearing from us in a particular way. Um, but in reality we all have the skillset to be leaders and we will all to have turns to lead different parts of the mission. So I can’t really say that I, you know, yeah, I think of myself as crew, um, and then all of our different terminologies are really, you know, where they are. And I think that, you know, I really like, um, I really like making sure that people are happy and that we’re cohesive and collaborative. And so that I think is a skillset that helps with someone in that role because I can check in with people and make sure we’re, we’re chugging along well. Um, and I also love kicking in when something is needed. And that’s also like you’re a gap filler. So specialties versus, you know, generalists that can come in and say, oh, you need someone to do this day, this day, I’m now your worker bee right. So I feel like there’s really that philosophy and that that approach in all of us. And so to me it’s very much peer leadership. Like we are a group that’s going to drive this mission and get the best that we possibly can, the best data possible for NASA, for the, and and really hopefully accomplish all of the goals of the mission, which is a big ask, but we really hope to actually hit everything possible. So, I don’t know, that was a long windy of say way of saying maybe that I, I don’t think we have a… we’re a group of leaders.

Host: And that’s, yeah, I don’t think there is like a defined like, this is how you should be a leader, right? I think part of this study is figuring out like what is, what is a leader going to do? What is, what is a successful leader going to do? And how are they gonna change over time? Maybe.

Kelly Haston: But they do need someone to look to when there is a chain of command issue like an emergency. So, you know, we have, we have some process in place for those things where at least we know who to look to. And it doesn’t have to be a scramble for who’s gonna take this at that given one. So, you know, I think that there’s roles and again, it’s a role, you know, so that’s, that’s to me sort of where that comes in. Um, I guess…

Ross Brockwell: Kelly, you can ask him to edit this out if you want, but I’ll tell you myself, I, I left Wyoming specifically thinking they should make Kelly the commander of this mission.

Host: Really?

Ross Brockwell: So just for the record…

Kelly Haston: Please edit that out, but keep the part about Nate peeing in .

Host: You took a leadership role while you were marching through the wilderness?

Ross Brockwell: Well, I just mean kind of looking at the skillset and looking at her ability to, to know when a decisive, you know, input was needed and, and how to properly apply it. And that’s, it just seemed to me like a very good choice. So sure.

Host: That’s awesome. Kelly, you mentioned when you were talking about this, you mentioned, you know, the mission hopeing to accomplish the mission. If you had, if someone said, what is your mission? How, how has this mission been described to you? What are you gonna be doing?

Kelly Haston: I think we, we are are actually fairly similar in the way we think about it, although everyone will have their own take. Um, Anca says it best because at the very baseline we are providing data that will help people go to Mars, right? So I’m a scientist and most science happens incrementally. You add little building blocks to the science and hopefully one day we get to a big answer. And if you’re really lucky in life, you get a big answer in your career, right? But that’s pretty rare for scientists. So this to me is building blocks. We’re looking at the physiology and, and the psychology of the stressors of being in this situation. We’re not testing all the things about going to Mars. So for me, it’s, it’s, um, success looks like providing the starting, the starting process of providing those building blocks and accomplishing our goals means that we hit, we provide data sets, full data sets as full as possible for the things that are so critical that have been outlined by, by the, the missions. So I guess that’s a little vague ’cause some of it we can’t really talk about. But I think that, you know, um, that to me is the idea, but please feel free to kick in on, on flesh that out.

Anca Selariu: Uh, Kelly has exactly outlined it for me. It’s always been, uh, I see about 5,000 years in the future and, um, I have this vision of what, what Mars will look like in 5,000 years and this is the first step that will get us there. It’s very pretty, I promise.

Host: 5,000 years, you’re thinking way far into the future.

Anca Selariu: Right? I’ve been, I’ve been told.

Host: All right. Abnormal, right? . Um, now you, you talked about the mission, you’re, you’re talking about the training that you’ve been doing. You talked about VR and, and just understanding the systems and you’re gonna be doing, they’re gonna keep you busy. They’re gonna try to, they’re gonna try to simulate what it’s like as a working Mars crew member for a year. But I wonder if you’re approaching this with some personal goals and certain, like things like, like Anca you, you mentioned like you had this playlist, right? And so you’re, you’re, you’re gonna approach it with a, maybe I’m, I’m assuming you’re bringing music with you, that’s gonna be an important thing, an important distinction and personality that you are bringing to this mission is you want to listen to music. I wonder, like no, is anyone bringing bagpipes? No one’s bringing bagpipes, right?

Nathan Jones: Can we print ’em? Can we 3D print bagpipes?

Anca Selariu: Bad idea.

Kelly Haston: I did consider bringing a singing bowl. So a meditation device where you get like a really big swell of music, but picking one tone was very hard for this many people.

Host: One tone for a year, right?

Kelly Haston: One tone for a year seemed very, uh…

Host: I wonder what that mindset is ’cause I, I would think the same way, right? It’s like, I really don’t want to annoy my crew members, right? So like what, like what are the, what kinds of personal things are you bringing to, ’cause you do have, we talked about this, right? Like the, there is this comradery, there’s this time you have to spend together. But of course I think part of, you know, maintaining this, this mental health over the course of a year is making sure you’re doing what’s best for you. So you guys bringing stuff?

Anca Selariu: I, I think all of us are bringing some stuff. But a lot of us are excited about learning new things. Interesting. So, uh, we have an entire list of courses that I can’t wait to look to look at and learning languages, learning, brushing up on, um, on physics and, and, and geology and learning all the, all there is to know about the geology of Mars. I mean, learning how to take things apart and put them back together. All of these things are so exciting to me that I can contain my enthusiasm in my voice.

Host: You guys are so nerdy. You wanna learn in your spare time. No one’s gonna play guitar? no one’s gonna- oh that’s Nathan.

Ross Brockwell: Yeah. He’s gonna teach me a little bit too. So it’s on, it’s on my list.

Nathan Jones: I’m bringing Fender Electric gui-, excuse me, A Fender electric guitar. It’s got a, um, found a neat device. It actually plugs into the, um, the jack on it and it’s just like a little box that’s uh, battery powered basically. You charge it and then you plug that into a pair of headsets or whatever and then you can also like stream it to computer. And so you’re the only one who has to hear yourself wailing, you know, you can really get some killer solos. It’s kind of a shame no one else gets to experience it, but you know, they’re probably not gonna want to.

Host: You’re just doing,crushing an Eddie Van Halen solo and no one’s hearing it.

Nathan: Yeah!

Host: That’s great.

Nathan Jones: We’re working on some AC/DC the other day.

Ross Brockwell: Trying, trying to hit Thunderstruck note for note by the end of the mission

Host: See these are the goals that I’m thinking about, right? You have to have those certain things. Kelly, what’s uh, what’s the personal thing for you?

Kelly Haston: So I have a little mini ukulele, even smaller than normal. So that was one of my, the items that I wanna brush up on ’cause I used to play guitar and I’ve fallen out of it, but I actually do a lot of poorly do a lot of beading. So, uh, first Nations are Native American beading. Um, and so I’ve brought as many crafts as I could for that. So, and a little bit of knitting. So my partner and I are planning to knit something in common so that we actually have something that we’re doing as a project and we can show each other our progress. So we wanted to make sure that we were doing things that actually we both had. Um, and so that’s one other thing too. So some crafts. And then I also did have a little bit of focus on self-care items. So, you know, uh, massage balls or things that might, might actually just like make you treat yourself a little bit better on your day off. So, you know, so a little mix of crafting. We also brought a lot of books, um, and we have a lot of things that we wanna learn from each other. And then some professional papers as well. So my, my paper library, which will be open to everyone.

Anca Selariu: And I want to learn how to sing from Nate so that I, um, can sing along. He has a wonderful voice. He will say no.

Nathan Jones: No


Ross Brockwell: He can dance too. It’s…

Crew: He can dance.

Host: You guys are gonna have like a whole music video by the end of this day.

Ross Brockwell: I dunno what I’m gonna do, but…

Host: Singing. Dancing.

Nathan Jones: Yeah, we’re probably gonna be the next Backstreet Boys.

Ross Brockwell: I’m gonna play the cowboy, uh, the cowbell,

Nathan Jones: Mars Bar Street.

Anca Selariu: Mars Street Boys.

Kelly Haston: Did you bring a cowbell?

Ross Brockwell: No. Maybe we can print one of those too.

Kelly Haston: We could probably, yeah, we could print one.

Nathan Jones: Definitely some cowbell. Yeah.

Host: You gonna print a cowbell?


Ross Brockwell: Something I can play.

Kelly Haston: We do have a 3D printer. We have many plans for it.

Host: That’s awesome.

Ross Brockwell: Tambourine, something simple for me.

Host: Um, in terms of spending time together too, right? I’m sure beyond the work, right? Uh, you, you guys want to get together as a crew. Is there anything you have planned ahead of time? We’re gonna have game nights, we’re gonna have movie nights, anything like that?

Ross Brockwell: I think both of those are on the list, right? Games and movies for sure.

Host: All right. What kinds of games?

Kelly Haston: We have, um, several PS4 games, right? Yeah, so we’ve, we had a list of those. Um, there’s a good number that are world building, uh, and then there’s some others that are, you know, more standard like F1 and so forth. And then, um, but we do also have like a called out crew night as well. I have a feeling we’ll have more than that. And then I think we also have some plans for special occasions as well. So we, um, most of us aren’t huge holiday celebrators, but we purposely built that in, so we would actually have things to look forward to.

Host: Yes. Yeah, little milestones here and there. Um, I’m really excited because, um, throughout this mission, uh, we’re gonna try to work with you to do this more often, periodic check-ins and Houston, We Have a Podcast little audio logs just to see how things are going, how you’re progressing, and hear stories from you guys. I’m very excited to follow your journey along and so, um, I really appreciate this conversation right now. And just the energy is contagious from this group. You guys are abnormally awesome. Um, it is, it is really…

Nathan Jones: Someone tell them they’re getting locked up for a year, right?


Host: And who’s excited about it? Uh, this has been a, a absolute pleasure to get to talk with each one of you. And I wish you all the best of luck in this in this year. Can’t wait to keep hearing from you throughout this. And, um, thank you again.

Anca Selariu: Thank you so much for having us here.

Ross Brockwell: Thank you so much.

Nathan Jones: This was fun. Thank you.


Host: Hey, thanks for sticking around. Hope you learned something today. You’re excited for the CHAPEA mission, which is already kicked off at this point. There was a lot of energy and excitement in that room and I was, I was really happy to be able to absorb a lot of that. I felt like I was almost a part of their abnormal group. It was such a pleasure to get to talk with them. You may have caught it at the end of the episode there, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. But we’re lucky enough to have regular access to the crew to do periodic check-ins during their mission. Each month, throughout the CHAPEA mission, we will post an episode called “Mars Audio Log”, where we’ll get a chance to hear from each of the crew members and check in to see how they’re doing. Now remember, this is a Mars mission, so we won’t be able to chat in real time with the crew since they’ll be simulating significant communications delays between Mars and Earth. Instead, we’ll try to build an episode each month around recorded audio logs about their experiences. We may get a mix of individual recordings, maybe some together. It’ll depend on their schedule that month. The first audio log episode is expected to publish August to give us some time to collect the recordings and edit the episode together. But from then on, expect about one check-in per month. You can find out everything that’s happening with the CHAPEA crew at You can also check out the different podcasts we have across NASA at If you go there and click on us, Houston, We Have a Podcast, you can find our full collection of episodes and listen to them in no particular order. If you wanna talk to us, we’re on social media, we’re on the NASA Johnson Space Center, pages of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you wanna offer us a suggestion or maybe ask a question, something we can bring on this show, use the hashtag #askNASA and make sure to mention it’s for us at Houston, We Have a Podcast. This episode was recorded on June 15th with Raina and June 20th with the crew, 2023. Thanks to Will Flato, Justin Herring, Dane Turner, Heidi Lavelle, Abby Graf, Belinda Pulido, Jaden Jennings, and Anna Schneider. And of course, thanks again to Raina Infante. Kelly Haston, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and Anca Selariu for taking the time to come on the show. Give us a rating and feedback on whatever platform you’re listening to us on. And tell us what you think of our podcast. We’ll be back next week.