Mars Society Partners with Mars Ocean Analogs

Wilmington to Mars: One Small Sail, One (potentially) Large Leap for Space Exploration

By Allison Ballard, Wilmington Star News, 01.01.21

The comparisons between the exploration of oceans and space are endless. But Reid Stowe still says he is met with disbelief about how long-term sea voyages can be useful and necessary when it comes to planning missions to Mars, for example.

Stowe, long-time captain of the 70-foot Schooner Anne, has a history of adventuring at sea, and fascination about humans traveling to other planets.

He holds a record for the longest sea voyage at 1,152 days, or more than three years with no stops or re-supplies, which he began as a way to better understand how people could prepare for and survive such long-term isolation and self-reliance.

“If you don’t think I can do this,” Stowe said. “How do you think a group of astronauts can live this same amount of time on a mission to Mars?”

Now, 10 years later, he is adapting that belief into a Mars Ocean Analogs program, in partnership with The Mars Society, founded by aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin.

The first such voyage leaves from Wilmington to begin 2021 with a small crew aboard his “starship schooner.” They will have to work together for three weeks in potentially life-threatening circumstances on their way to Boca Chica in Texas, the SpaceX launch site.

“This is the test run, the proof of concept,” said John Wolfe, Wilmington-based writer who is also a captain and part of Anne’s crew for these analogs. 

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