The report that documents research conducted under Cooperative Agreement 80NSSC18K0042 presents the results of a three-year study to identify the abilities and skills that will be required among the crews of the first human expeditions to Mars. The final report was submitted to NASA in December 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8’s historic voyage around the Moon; the research team received notice from NASA that the report was published on 16 July 2019, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s launch; and, a PDF of the report was sent to nearly 200 subject matter experts who contributed to the study on 20 July 2019 as the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon.
The report begins with historical information that establishes the context of the research and is followed by a summary of Mars mission planning, from von Braun’s Das Marsprojekt to the present. The report then presents an analysis of 1,125 tasks identified by the research and the cognitive, physical, and social abilities needed by crew members to perform the tasks during a 30-month, conjunction-class expedition. The report concludes with data-driven recommendations concerning equipment, procedures, and crew size and composition. A list of 647 tasks that are likely to be performed during a Gateway mission is presented as an appendix.
The research was conducted for the Human Factors and Behavioral Performance Element, Human Research Program, located at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Johnson Space Center. The research addresses the Risk of Inadequate Mission, Process, and Task Design and the Risk of Performance Errors Due to Training Deficiencies during exploration-class space missions by identifying the tasks that will be conducted by human crew during an expedition to Mars and the abilities, skills, and knowledge that will be required of crew members. By focusing on an expedition to Mars, we have considered the extremes of what is possible for human space exploration during the first half of the 21st Century and accommodated the human requirements for missions to asteroids, Cis-Lunar orbit, and a return to the Moon.
The study uses research methods that were developed to analyze the work performed by a variety of civilian and military occupational specialties and is consistent with Human Factors methods. The work began by developing a comprehensive inventory of 1,125 tasks that are likely to be performed during the 12 phases of the first human expeditions to Mars, from launch to landing 30 months later. Sixty subject matter experts (SMEs) rated expedition tasks in terms of (likely) frequency, difficulty to learn, and importance to mission success; a fourth metric was derived by combining the mean ratings of the three dimensions. Seventy-two SMEs placed the physical, cognitive, and social abilities necessary to perform the tasks in order of importance for specialist domains identified by the task analysis. The research team then identified, 1) Abilities, skills, and knowledge that can be retained and generalized across tasks; 2) Optimum training strategies; and 3) Implications for crew size and composition. Study results also led to recommendations concerning equipment, habitats, and procedures for exploration-class space missions. The report describes why the study was conducted, describes the research tasks performed and study results, and concludes with a discussion of operational implications and recommendations based on those results. Appendices present details of the procedures used, a complete list of Mars expedition tasks (by mission phase), a list of tasks that are likely to be performed during expeditions to a Cis-Lunar Gateway, and the names of SMEs who contributed to the study.
Note: The full-mission task inventory presented in the report was developed during a comprehensive review of documentation and concepts of operations. It is understood by the study team that the tasks are based on currently-available information and that the tools, equipment, propulsion methods, and/or other aspects of actual human expeditions to Mars might be different from those described, as a consequence of technological development and evolving Mars Design Reference Missions.