Getting Humans to Mars, Maybe Beyond

"This is the time. This is our time. This is your time. Let’s go for it.”

Those were the words of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin at this week’s Humans to Mars Summit (H2M), sponsored in part by Dell.

Aldrin performed the world’s first successful spacewalk and was one of the first two humans to set foot on the moon in 1969, but the 86 year old has really impressed me with his embrace of social media to encourage us to #GYATM (look it up).

H2M is an annual conference that addresses the major technical, scientific, and policy challenges that need to be overcome in order to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. But sponsorship of that discussion is only one way Dell supports space exploration efforts around this big blue marble.

Many organizations involved in space exploration are leveraging Dell technology, and collaborating with each other, to push the boundaries of our celestial knowledge. And, with more and more countries running space programs, there is a growing demand for astronaut training.

The Center for Space Simulator Development and Personnel Training (CSD&PT) in Russia focuses on the development of simulators and training systems for trainee astronauts worldwide. It’s developed more than 30 specialized training solutions, including hardware and software systems for supporting Russian and international astronaut crews. They turned to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to make their infrastructure more power efficient and less time-consuming to manage.

“It was clear to us that a VDI was a good option. We are a small team and we wanted to minimise administration and concentrate on developing our training systems,” said Valentin Shukshunov, general manager of CSD&PT.

When China’s Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) needed a high performance computing platform to take very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) measurement and determine orbit positioning for the Chang’e-3 probe as it prepared to support the first lunar soft-landing, they also turned to Dell.

“Dell was able to provide a complete end-to-end solution involving the hardware, software and specific support services required during the intensive period involving the lunar soft-landing,” said Zhong Chen, deputy director and designer, VLBI Command and Control Center, SHAO.

The European Space Agency is testing Dell laptops for use on the International Space Station, and the European Gravitational Observatory uses a Dell end-to-end enterprise solution to explore 1,000 times more of the universe. They recently completed a comprehensive upgrade of their data center that included Dell Networking switches, a Dell PowerEdge converged platform and Dell Storage.

The University of Cambridge is using Dell high performance computing to see the edge of space and detect signals 50 light years away by processing and collecting vast amounts of data captured by the world’s largest radio telescope.

Many of these countries and agencies are working collaboratively, so to have Dell as a partner to all is a significant benefit. This cooperation means we’re once again living in an exciting time for space exploration. And according to Explore Mars President, Artemis Westenberg:

“Looking at the progress that has occurred over the past year as indicated in our 2016 Humans to Mars Report, I am happy to say that October 6th, 2033 is looking better than ever as the date for the first footsteps on Mars.”

But the first African-American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison, has her sights set even further into the cosmos. Mentioning the challenge of showing practical benefits and using the example of the Superconducting Super Collider that first brought me to Texas, she wants us to look beyond Mars to interstellar travel.

“The big difference is the distance, the time, and what you have to do independently,” she says. “I think we know how to do Mars.”

And I think Dell is ready to help get us there and beyond.

Image of Mars by Kevin Gill via Creative Commons 

Laura Pevehouse

About the Author: Laura Pevehouse

Laura Pevehouse was profiled as one of five “social media mavens” in the March 2009 issue of Austin Woman Magazine and named an AdWeek’s TweetFreak Five to Follow. She has been part of the Dell organization for more than 15 years in various corporate communications, employee communications, public relations, community affairs, marketing, branding, social media and online communication roles. From 2014-2018, Laura was Chief Blogger/Editor-in-Chief for Direct2DellEMC and Direct2Dell, Dell’s official corporate blog that she help launch in 2007. She is now a member of the Dell Technologies Chairman Communications team. Earlier in her Dell career she focused on Global Commercial Channels and US Small and Medium Business public relations as part of the Global Communications team. Prior to that, she was responsible for global strategy in social media and community management, as well as marcom landing pages, as a member of Dell’s Global SMB Marketing, Brand and Creative team. When she was part of Dell’s Global Online group, Laura provided internal consulting that integrated online and social media opportunities with a focus on Corporate Communications and Investor Relations. She managed the home page of Dell.com, one of the top 500 global web sites in Alexa traffic rank, and first brought web feeds and podcasts to the ecommerce site. In her spare time she led Dell into the metaverse with the creation of Dell Island in the virtual world Second Life. Laura has earned the designation of Accredited Business Communicator from the International Association of Business Communicators, and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Louisiana State University. Before joining Dell Financial Services in 2000, she worked at the Texas Workforce Commission and PepsiCo Food Systems Worldwide.