Jeremy Rabineau, Commander of Crew 275
If you want to reach Mars one day, you do not simply need to build a great rocket and expect that everything will be fine. Instead, space exploration involves a whole diversity of actors and their relative disciplines.
At our own scale, and to ensure the success of the mission, our crew includes members with complementary responsibilities ranging from sciences and engineering to safety, communication, and management.
While preparing the mission, the aim was to build a crew of seven individuals who will be able to address the majority of planned and unplanned events occurring during a simulation of life on Mars, with very limited external assistance.
However, just like any other mission, you cannot build the best possible crew by simply gathering the best individuals in their field. Instead, you need to take care of many other parameters, including soft skills and inter-crewmembers compatibility.
Looking back at the last months and all the energy that we have all spent in the preparation of the mission, I can say with confidence that Crew 275 has all the potential to have a very successful stay at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). However, even though everything is done to anticipate what could go wrong, when you take part in such missions, you also need to accept that you do not have a full control on everything that can happen.
With my previous experience at the MDRS in 2016, I may have a small advantage over my fellow crewmates, because I have a better idea of what to expect here. However, every single mission is different and it would be very bold to claim that I am protected against any potential adverse event. I need to remain aware that the station has changed a lot in the last years, and that we will be staying here twice as long as during my first mission.
After taking our last steps as Earthlings, we are about to close the airlock. Tomorrow, we will wake up as Martians. It is the end of a real marathon during which we spent a lot of energy training for all the experiments that we are about to perform and preparing all the logistics around them. However, we made sure to keep enough energy for another marathon, a very different one that will start tomorrow when we "land" on Mars. In fact, if you also include the post-mission period dedicated to data analysis and push the sports analogy a bit further, the whole experience could almost be described as a triathlon: three very different periods of long-duration effort and of equal importance. None of them is sufficient to ensure success, but if you fail one of them, you fail everything!
The whole picture may look impressive but, as in a long-distance race, we need to take one step after the other. Now, the next step will be to spend our first night in this new environment. It is almost romantic to think that Mars has been in our dreams for so long, and now we are just one dream away from Mars. Whether it is because of the excitement or because we need to get used to the relative comfort of our new beds, one thing is is sure: most of us will have trouble falling asleep!
Per aspera, ad astra!