somewhere deep within a vast system
preparing for a launch in two decades or
so. An order for metal fixtures for work
on the capsule itself was much more tangible.
These check fixtures are used on tubes
that are going to support the astronauts
on the journey to Mars Yes, Mars.
From Moon to
Mars in 70 Years
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the plan to send an astronaut to the Moon before the end of the
decade. The Soviet Union had launched
into space the first artificial satellite,
Sputnik I, in 1957, which took the U.S.
by surprise. On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union achieved another breakthrough
when it launched the first man into outer
space. Although the U.S. had been sending animals into space since the 1940s,
successfully sending insects or a monkey
into outer space doesn’t have the public
relations impact of a human being orbiting Earth.
Although the Mercury and Gemini
programs suffered a few setbacks, they
didn’t suffer many, and they ushered in
the Apollo era, which put the first man
on the moon on July 20, 1969, just a little
more than eight years after the initial announcement. The space race was so ambitious that, to date, just one additional
nation has developed a space program
that launched a person into space (
China), and no other country has ventured
to the moon.
How long will it be until the Mars
mission is ready? It’s hard to tell. Prepar-
ing for a Mars mission in the modern era
doesn’t have a lot to do with planning a
moon mission in the 1960s decade. Al-
though the space shuttle program and
the International Space Station have
provided continuous improvements and
additions to NASA’s knowledge about
space travel, a trip to Mars is an entirely
different venture from a lunar landing.
The moon is 239,000 miles away; at its
closest, Mars is 34. 8 million miles away.
Apollo 11 made the trip to the moon in
a little more than three days; the orbiters and landers sent to Mars take around
300 days to make the trip. It’s an ambitious goal, certainly more grand than the
mission to the moon. Like the lunar landing, NASA’s plan to visit Mars has distinct
stages, this time just two: an initial visit to
Phobos or Diemos, the moons that orbit
Mars, by 2025, followed by a manned
spacecraft sent to orbit Mars before 2040.
What will that success hinge on?
Thousands upon thousands of manufactured products, big and small, sophisticated and simple, flashy and plain, each
made to precise standards and needed
to perform a critical role, from the most
sophisticated and advanced central processing unit in the spacecraft’s computer
system to the simplest tubes and tubular
assemblies throughout the spacecraft.
And one thing is sure: From the computer systems to the tubular assemblies,
everything will have been tested, measured, checked, and verified before it
goes into the spacecraft and sent into
Eric Lundin can be reached at ericl@
Clark Fixture Technologies Inc., 410
North Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green,
Ohio 43402, 419-354-1541, sales@
At Fabtech Booth B10018
and solutions for
Backed by a team of
experts who will put
them to work for you.
These check fixtures are used on tubes that are going to support
the astronauts on the journey to Mars Yes, Mars.