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The delay’s ripple effect

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has caused more challenges than I anticipated, even with all our planning. Whenever we think a decision is final, something new pops up that causes a few others to shuffle around. It reminds me of playing with a Rubik’s Cube. I was never good at it, I could get a few colors to line up but even then I would have to make so many moves that I would lose track of the tiles. Solving that puzzle didn’t give me the same motivation as these new challenges. But If I absolutely, without a doubt, had to solve that Cube with the clock ticking down, I would gather some help. This is why we have a team, a standard way to communicate, and (now) daily meetings. Our issue’s are more complicated than a Rubik’s Cube, so we also have a science and engineering team backing us up. When we are in our simulation, they will be our Mission Control. They are former Analog Astronauts, volunteering their time to the expedition. Their support throughout the planning phase has been, and will continue to be, crucial to the success of this expedition.

Our contact in Resolute has been invaluable, and modern technology allows for near-instant answers that other explorers might not have had. This information, like how much weight are we limited to on our new flight into Resolute, ensures our travel is smooth. And this isn’t even the science and engineering, this is just us getting to where we’re trying to go with everything we need, plus a little extra. I could complain, but there are so many different options to get to the farthest reaches of this planet that I would be taking them for granted. Commercial air travel and communication helps people like me do things like this expedition. Sure we could charter a personal jet from Australia, to Europe, San Francisco, Seattle and on to Resolute, but we don’t have the budget of the headlining expeditions of the past. (Plus I’m on the record as biased toward commercial airplanes.) Luckily, we don’t need those vast amounts of cash.

The Mars Society’s Mars-analog sites bring the cost of this research down significantly, to the point where high school students are in the Utah desert at MDRS testing their robots and learning how we will grow vegetables in Martian soil. The pace of this research is accelerating; today I learned there are plans for Mars-analogs in the Australian bush and the Gobi desert of Mongolia.

4 days left. With every leg of the journey we’ll get further away from home and my comfort zone. Every stop requires different tasks that need to happen with little room for error for the next leg to be successful. I will rely on my crew, as they’ll rely on me. I know I’ll feel better when we’re on the crater.

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