SETI Scientist wants to you to drive the Journey to Mars.
A new company, Made of Mars, is launching a new age of citizen driven Space Exploration. Founded by J.R. Skok, PhD, a planetary geologist at the SETI Institute, Made of Mars will address a key challenge for humanity to thrive beyond Earth — how to build products from the materials in Space.
On October 10th, Made of Mars launched a Kickstarter campaign which unveils the first line of products constructed from one of the most common material found in Space — volcanic basalt. By developing and building from materials already known to be plentiful in Space, Made of Mars aims to create products to put the journey to Mars in the customer’s hands.
“The challenge of launching people, supplies and structures is one of the key limiting factors to a future in Space,” says Dr. Skok.
NASA often spends $20,000+ per kilogram of payload to launch into orbit. New innovations look to improve this cost to about $2,000 per kilogram through reusable rockets, mass production and competition. However, Dr. Skok argues that this progression is not enough to drive a self-propelling future in Space. The solution lies with developing the technology to build locally.
“If we can transform the rocks, minerals and ices that can be found throughout the Solar System, then we can build wherever we are,” says Dr. Skok, “this future would require only launching the people and initial production technology, then rest can be created as we go.”
This effort, known as In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) has been under development by NASA for years with substantial progress in mapping the minerals of Space and working with their analogs on Earth.
Dr. Skok has spent his career working with NASA to map out the minerals of Mars, the Moon, asteroids, and exploring their closest mineral analogs on Earth. He founded Made of Mars to work with these terrestrial minerals to engage the public while learning how to build everything that we might need from the materials we know are in Space.
Made of Mars’ initial product lineup features wallets and laptop cases made of volcanic basalt. Basalt is the most common rock on Mars, it covers the near side of the Moon and asteroids throughout Space. It is an abundant, versatile resource on Earth where it can be mined, melted, pulled into threads and woven into fabrics.
The Made of Mars product launch will feature the Deimos fold wallet, Phobos full wallet and SpaceCase laptop sleeve.
“These products were selected to create something stylish, something useful and something that would put the Journey to Mars into your hands. Supporters will allow Made of Mars to perfect the process of building with basalt on the product level,” says Dr. Skok.
Transforming basalt in this way will not be easy. No current factory has experience working with basalt fabrics for consumer goods. Solving this challenge will be only the first on the long journey toward Mars.
“This effort will lead to new innovations in material properties that will allow the development of more types of increasingly complex products made from more exacting mineral analogs with Space-ready hardware. This innovation cycle will lead to the technology we need to build a future on and beyond Earth.”
A future Made of Mars begins now, with a volcano in your pocket.