A Mission to Mars? Every University Should Have One!

Rodney Buckland

Open University, UK

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Abstract: Why have missions to Mars cost so much? Space agencies have always planned to get the most out of the taxpayers dollar. High reliability has been a consuming goal. Spacecraft have been large in order to achieve a lot from each opportunity. Is this the way to do it? Not, if you are a University Research group wanting to be the first to find out if there was life on Mars. Beagle 2 may have ended up as little more than the first interplanetary ‘hole in one’, but it leaves behind the legacy of a new way of exploring the Red Planet.

PROFILE: Rodney Buckland is a Fellow in Concurrent Engineering at the Open University. Having graduated with a BSc in Physics from the University of Western Australia, he joined NASA as an electronics engineer working on the early Pioneer and Mariner Mars deep space missions. He was then invited to be Expedition Physicist on the 1971 Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to MacRobertson Land, but had to come home after 15 months because the penguins were beginning to get good looking. After taking a postgraduate diploma course in space science and engineering at University College London, he joined British Aerospace and worked on Europe's first geostationary communications satellite. In 1976 he applied to become Britain's first astronaut, but was told he was too young. He then became Manager of Future Project Studies in the Science Directorate at the European Space Agency in Paris. He returned to the UK in 1981 and developed a satellite insurance business at Lloyds. In 1989, he saw an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph - "Astronaut Wanted: No Experience Necessary". He applied, was told he was too old, but instead became Engineering Manager for the Juno Mission that launched Britain's first tourist into space. In addition to his research post at the Open University he is a tutor for the third level course `Computer Aided Design', a Trustee of the National Science Centre , Director of European Space School , a Visiting Lecturer in Physics at the University of Kent and Consulting Editor of `Satellite & Space Business' published by Euromoney PLC.