Student Researched and Developed High Power Rocket; Public Sentiment in the Wake of Private Dreams: Evaluating the Fallout of a Private Sector Mars Mission Failure on Space Exploration Support

Author: ORCID icon
Abraham, Ardan, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Dong, Haibo, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Mcpherson, Michael, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

As we embark on the next era of interplanetary exploration, it is imperative to address not only the technological advancements but also the socio-technical impacts these missions entail. The technical research report, "The Role of Autonomous Systems in Managing Astronaut Psychological Health during Mars Missions," explores innovative solutions to support astronaut mental health. In parallel, the STS research report, "Public Sentiment in the Wake of Private Dreams: Evaluating the Fallout of a Private Sector Mars Mission Failure on Space Exploration Support," investigates the repercussions of Mars mission failures on public support for space endeavors. Together, these research projects provide a comprehensive understanding of the intersections between technological innovation and societal perceptions, highlighting the dual challenges of maintaining astronaut health and public confidence.

The technical research investigates autonomous systems designed to monitor and respond to the psychological needs of astronauts during Mars missions. This research is motivated by the significant communication delays with Earth that make traditional psychological support methods infeasible. The methods employed involve the integration of advanced machine learning algorithms and virtual reality, providing real-time adaptability and therapeutic environments to astronauts. Results from simulations and prototypes indicate that these autonomous systems can significantly mitigate stress, isolation, and psychological strain, enhancing overall mission performance. The discussion revolves around the potential of these technologies to revolutionize not only space travel but also remote psychological healthcare on Earth, demonstrating their broader applicability and significance.

The STS research focuses on the public and media reactions to hypothetical failures of privatized Mars missions. Utilizing a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods, this study delves into historical data, public opinion polls, and media analysis to understand how these failures could shift public sentiment and influence policy-making in space exploration. Evidence from social media, public forums, and news outlets suggests that while there is resilient support for space exploration, failures significantly impact trust and enthusiasm. The conclusions emphasize the need for transparent communication and robust risk management strategies to maintain and potentially increase public support after mission failures.

Both research projects underscore the necessity of addressing both the technological and socio-psychological aspects of space missions. The technical report demonstrates the potential of autonomous systems to safeguard astronaut mental health, while the STS report highlights the critical role of public perception in the sustainability of space exploration efforts. Together, they reflect the intertwined paths of technological advancement and public engagement essential for the future of interplanetary exploration.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Fallout of a Private Sector Mars Mission, Public Sentiment in the Wake of Private Dreams of space, Private Sector Mars Mission Failure

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Technical Advisor: Dong Haibo; McPherson Michael

STS Advisor: Francisco Pedro

Technical Team Members: Abraham Ardan, Delgado Andy, Miskinyar Duraan, Tran Dylan, Bales Jake, Edinger Tim, Morse Miriam, Zappia Peter, Barnard-Davignon Alexandria, Hassett Noah, Nguyen Jason, Bashaw Leo, Hicks Jordyn, Ogle Aiden, Benton Tucker, Holle Niklas, Ortega Thomas, Brightwell Marc, House Dylan, Osborne Aaron, Burton Joe, Kent Claire, Quapil Johannes, Camacho Christopher, Lothrop Connor, Sawyer Shane, Daud Aymon, Lyall Olivia, Tohti Daniel

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