Q & A



This page records frequently asked questions and answers. Note that the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA or any other organization with which I have been affiliated. 

Question: Why did you have Mars Journal published on line rather than by a more traditional publisher like your other books?

Answer: This method is quicker and easier, but my primary reason is that I believe that the "print on demand" method of publishing is the wave of the future.  Mars Journal will never be out of print! I believe that many traditional publishing houses will follow the lead of BUY BOOKS ON THE WEB because it allows them to publish more books, and it cuts their inventory of unsold books down to zero. INFINITY PUBLISHERS has upgraded the cover to full color and plans to make all of their books available for downloading at a moderate cost.

Question: Why do you think NASA had such a string of failures trying to land unmanned spacecraft on Mars?

Answer: Most people do not realize how difficult it is to soft land an unmanned spacecraft on another planet. Doctor Stan White, NASA's first flight surgeon, recently reminded me of how Jim Henry, another space medicine pioneer, responded when he was asked about unmanned missions in the late fifties. He said it was about as hard to land an unmanned spacecraft on another planet as it was to stand on the back side of the moon and try to tell a blind man how to cross a Los Angeles freeway safely.

Question: Do you really think NASA could become self supportive?

Answer: Yes! What would NASA's bottom line look like today if they had been allowed to charge royalties on communication or weather satellites or on some of the many thousands of inventions that have resulted from the space program? If those revenues had been added directly to NASA's operating budget they would be able to finance any space project they could dream up. It is not too late, but will it happen? I don't know. I spent a good part of my professional career in NASA and fully realize their problem. It's much easier to make changes when writing fiction than when you are tackling problems in real life. The key is public awareness and public support.

Question: How can we meet the challenge of weightlessness on long duration space missions?

Answer: Over forty years of serious research has failed to give us a satisfactory answer to this problem. Weightlessness effects every system in the human body and countermeasures have been devised to counteract it's effect on various systems, but this is a band-aid approach. I believe that the only way to solve all of the effects of weightlessness is artificial gravity. We have to fool the body into thinking it is still on Earth or, at least, on Mars. 

My co-author for MARS EXPLORATION, THE CHALLENGE OF WEIGHTLESSNESS, Astronaut Duane Graveline shares this view. In his words: "Countermeasures will not protect man from the effects of weightlessness on a mission to Mars. We must devise a way to provide dependable artificial gravity during the trip."

Question: Do you think that man will go to Mars?

Answer: Yes! Man will go to Mars. I don't know when and I don't know how, but man will inhabit the planet Mars. 

Question: What do you think of the International space station?

Answer: I am excited about the possibilities of a microgravity environment in space. NASA and it's international partners are to be congratulated on their remarkable progress against so many fiscal and engineering obstacles. The space station offers a unique opportunity to continue to study the effects of weightlessness on man. It also offers the possibility of studying and proving methods of solving the challenge of weightlessness by controlled experiments with artificial gravity.  Unfortunately, such experiments are not planned at this time. This problem must be solved before we go to Mars.    

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