The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure

Training Jr. Astronauts, Scientists & Engineers

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Nichelle Nichols (Original STAR TREK CREW) Honored at Shades of Blue Gala

Nichelle Nichols Honored at Shades of Blue Gala

Ivar at Awards 2015

Photos courtesy of Shades of Blue

How much would you pay to have breakfast with Tiffany actress, Nichelle Nichols? One of the many highlights of the Shades of Blue Gala in Denver on Saturday was a live auction where bitters fought for the right to break bread with a living legend! It finally came down to two contenders in a battle royale—both determined to spend as much as $2,000 to best the other. In a surprise move, the clever auctioneer doubled down on the combatants allowing both the opportunity of victory—with each paying $1750! One of the two victors was Dr. Bernard Harris, the first black man to walk in space. Did I mention that the Gala was a first-ever black astronaut reunion?  Of course, by now we should all know that it was Nichelle Nichols who made Bernard Harris’ feat possible; she was the one who broke the ‘color line’ for astronauts.

Yes Virginia, there really was a time when there were no minority astronauts (from 1958 to 1983) until Star Trek actress, Nichelle Nichols publicly admonishes NASA for not having minority astronauts and NASA shamefully agreed.  In 1977, NASA hires Nichelle to recruit minority astronauts but she had a few conditions: she had to be on her on, she didn’t want NASA handlers and she wanted to be able to recruit anywhere she wanted including inside the military. Almost immediately she is invited to a meeting at the Pentagon where she is told, “The Armed Services are off limits!” Of course, that’s exactly where she goes first!

Her first recruits from the military were Guy Bluford and Fred Gregory. She  tries to recruit Charles Bolden (the current NASA Administrator) but he has reservations. He finally applies and becomes an astronaut two years later. Not surprisingly, some had applied as military astronauts and were rejected! Nichelle also personally recruits Dr. Ron McNair, Judith Resnik, the first Jewish woman astronaut and Ellison Onizuka, America’s first Asian astronaut. Nichelle’s 1978 recruitment yields ten new astronauts and literally changes the face of NASA!

A United Airlines Captain, Willie Daniels had a dream to have as many black astronauts as possible together in one place—something that had never been tried before. On Saturday August 29th, 14 of the 17 surviving black astronauts attend his first-ever black astronaut reunion and Gala in Denver CO sponsored by Daniels’ nonprofit, Shades of Blue making the event an unqualified success. Guy Bluford, Fred Gregory and Cheryl McNair widow of Ron McNair were on hand representing Nichelle’s black recruits.  Also present was Ed Dwight, the first black astronaut candidate recruited by President Kennedy, who still waits to be classified as a full-fledged astronaut.

Among the brothers who couldn’t make it were three who died in accidents: Robert Lawrence (in a training flight) and Ron McNair and Michael Anderson (in shuttle disasters).  NASA administrator, Charles Bolden could not attend but sent his regrets and congratulations via a video presentation.

Willie Daniels’ Shades of Blue is a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people by teaching them aviation science. Shades and TSM are looking to join forces with TSM adding the space education piece to Shades of Blue’s aviation curriculum.

For her success in recruiting for NASA and being an inspiration figure for 50 years, Nichelle Nichols received the magnificent (and very heavy) Ed Dwight Lifetime Achievement Award trophy from Ed Dwight himself. The trophy —an ascending shuttle Orbiter and trailing fighter jet was designed and beautifully sculpted by Ed Dwight, who reinvented himself into one of America’s most renown sculptors.

While writing this, Ed sent me the photo of the three of us (above).  Besides being my buddy and a personal hero, Ed is also a quite a mensch!


Pre-gala autograph session at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

Front row: Leland Melvin, Nichelle, Robert Satcher, Joan Higginbotham
Middle row: Victor Glover, Stephanie Wilson, Cheryl McNair, Fred Gregory, Jeanette Epps, Willie Daniels
Back row: Herb Jefferson and me

Front row: Jeanette Epps, Livingston Holder, Leland Melvin, Yvonne Cagle, Nichelle, Stephanie Wilson and Joan Higginbotham
Back row:  Joseph Tanner, Robert Satcher, Bernard Harris, Guy Bluford, Winston Scott and Fred Gregory

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The Story of the Martian Greenhouse

A fire destroyed the greenhouse at the Mars Desert Research Station. Please help us rebuild!

Kids Talk Radio is going do what we can to help.

The Story of Our Martian Greenhouse

In the late 1990s, Dr. Robert Zubrin and others organized a group of Earth-bound space enthusiasts with dreams of exploring the Red Planet and some engineering gusto to form the Mars Society, currently the world’s largest space advocacy group dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of Mars.

Several years later, the Mars Society established the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which began operating as a Mars analog simulation outpost in the San Rafael Swell of south-central Utah. For over a decade, MDRS has hosted nearly 1,000 engineers, scientists, doctors, educators and university students from all over the globe to “practice for Mars.” Each year, crews of six live, work, and train at the facility for two-week field rotations running from October through May.

Food growth and plant science studies performed on site in the MDRS greenhouse (more commonly referred to as the GreenHab) meet a primary goal of the Mars simulation program – helping to determine the necessary food resources that future Mars explorers will require during a mission and long-term stay on the planet.

Two years ago, we revitalized this effort by overhauling the old GreenHab. The GreenHab team and dedicated GreenHab officers, made up of crew members from around the world, breathed new life into the humble Martian garden by upgrading the facility. A hydroponic vegetable system was installed to feed the crew fresh lettuce, space was cleared for carrot, pea and herb planters, and training resumed for numerous crew studies on how best to maintain life in extreme environments.

Firefighting on Mars
Well into the updated GreenHab’s second year, disaster struck the facility and the GreenHab caught fire. Quick action by the crew saved the structure from burning down completely and also spreading to the main MDRS habitat. Unfortunately, the GreenHab was severely damaged to such an extent that MDRS staff deemed it unfit for further use.

Fire at a leading international space simulation outpost makes the news, and a number of media outlets covered the incident, including, Slate, the Daily Mail (UK),and TechTimes. Although the fire dealt a serious blow to the MDRS program, staff and volunteers reacted quickly, as would future Mars pioneers. We built a temporary grow tent with discrete, low-power indoor gardens inspired by alternative gardening websites so that research could continue.

Our Improved GreenHab
Any future human settlement on the Red Planet would rebuild and grow from such a game-changing event, and the Mars Society is no exception. We aim to train and inspire future Mars pioneers to successfully overcome other-worldly emergencies.

So we’re rebuilding the GreenHab at MDRS. An all-new geodesic dome structure has been designed to house an improved assortment of food gardens and science experiments. This new greenhouse will be more efficient, easier to use, healthier for the plants and more suitable than ever before. Most importantly, it will be more technologically advanced, helping us better prepare for the coming space age and provide the needed research for humanity’s inevitable exploration and settlement of the planet Mars.

Mars Society staff and volunteers have already built a small sample geodesic test unit. We just finished a field trip to lay the building foundation, and we will return to MDRS in September to build the complete geodesic GreenHab structure in time for the upcoming 2015-16 field season, which begins October 24th. A generous donation immediately following the fire helped us reach this point. It covered the cost of the temporary grow tent, as well as materials to build the new GreenHab dome structure.

We Need Your Support
While the Mars Society has been able to raise part of the necessary funds to rebuild the GreenHab, a key component of the MDRS program, we still lack money to equip the new structure with the necessary tools to perform important crew research and experiments.

The Mars Society and MDRS staff are seeking YOUR HELP to restock and resupply the GreenHab. MDRS staff intend to build planters to study dirt and regolith, install a hydroponics system that can eventually be converted into aquaponics, and purchase LED lighting, fans, environmental controls, Rasberry Pis, sensors, and a whole list of other needed supplies and equipment.

The more you contribute, the better we can make the MDRS GreenHab and ensure its full conversion into a state-of-the-art Mars-focused research facility. Your involvement in this important campaign means that you are directly helping scientists and engineers to prepare for the human exploration and eventual settlement of the Red Planet.

Reaching the amount we are asking for – $10,000 – would be amazing. It alone would ensure a successful upcoming season. However, should Mars and space enthusiasts from around the world decide to support our MDRS GreenHab research program beyond the required amount, we have several stretch goals to make our GreenHab the solar system class habitat it deserves to be.

If $25,000 is raised, the Mars Society can outfit the planned greenhouse dome with completely automated environmental controls to handle the extreme temperature, humidity, light, water and carbon dioxide swings experienced in the Mars-like desert terrain of Utah.

If $50,000 is raised, the Mars Society can create two modular domes and expand the operational capacity of the planned domes to better simulate a real six-person Mars mission.

If $100,000 (or more) is raised, the Mars Society can construct one of its initial domes and use the remaining funds to contract with start-up aerospace designers to build a solar-powered inflatable habitat. This dream hi-tech structure would immediately become the world’s leading facility for aerospace agriculture testing, all thanks to your help.
The Mars Society is a  registered as 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution. Contributions to our campaign in the United States will be processed by FirstGiving and will be tax deductible.
Feel free to contact us for more information regarding perks which require Mars Society approval,

Dreaming of a Martian Colony
While there are many science-related crowdfunded projects for consideration online, the Mars Society’s “Veggies on ‘Mars’ – Help Rebuild the MDRS GreenHab” campaign is a unique project that will directly benefit planning for human exploration of the Red Planet.

In addition, getting involved with our campaign by making a contribution or publicizing this effort will help the Mars Society spread the adventure and excitement of space exploration to the world-wide public.

We need you to join our mission to rebuild the GreenHab. Please help us so the Mars Society can give back to the greater world community. Together we can make a wonderful MDRS GreenHab facility where we share how to “live off the land” of humanity’s eventual second home, a second Earth – the planet Mars.

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Kids Talk Radio Space Science: The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures

Students and teachers in the USA have been in contact with Russian teachers and students.  We want to continue our work on ” The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Program.”   This is an international space science simulation program with headquarters in Long Beach, California.    If you want more information about collaborating for educational enrichment purposes contact Bob Barboza, Founder Director of Kids Talk Radio Space Science. and

Mathematics OM