Updated: Oct 15, 2018
A SETI Institute scientist wants the public to drive the journey to Mars.
Mountain View, CA - On October 10th, Made of Mars launched its Kickstarter campaign and enter into a new age of citizen-driven space exploration by unveiling the first line of products constructed from one of the most common materials found in space: volcanic basaltic rock. By developing and building from materials like volcanic basalt, Made of Mars aims to create products that put the journey to Mars in the hands of everyday citizens on Earth.
Founded by J.R. Skok, Ph.D., a planetary geologist at the SETI Institute, Made of Mars is addressing one of the key challenges facing humanity in the quest to thrive beyond Earth: how to build products from the materials available in Space.
“The launching of supplies and structures is the line in the sand when it comes to a future in space for humans,” says Skok. “To overcome this challenge, we must learn how to transform raw materials on Mars by utilizing those currently found on Earth into the necessary fibers and structures that can sustain life in space.”
NASA often spends $20,000 or more per kilogram of payload to launch into orbit. New innovations look to reduce this cost to about $2,000 per kilogram through reusable rockets, mass production and market-driven competition.Skok argues that this progression, however, is simply 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 Skok, “this future would require only launching the people and initial production technology, the rest can be created as we go on Mars.”
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 analog counterparts 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,” says Skok. “Supporters will allow Made of Mars to perfect the process of building with basalt on the product level.”
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 increasingly complex products made from more precise mineral analogs,” says Skok
Please visit Made of Mars Kickstarter campaign for more information including a brief video and how to provide support. A future Made of Mars begins now.