University teams from across the U.S. gathered at Duke University on April 10-12 to accomplish a major technical milestone for an historic student space mission to Mars, called Time Capsule to Mars™ (TC2M).

TC2M, an Explore Mars BE BOLD technical project, is a student-led non-profit project that is designing, building, launching, and landing the first privately-funded mission to Mars by 2019. The spacecraft will carry digital content uploaded by individuals from around the world for a small fee. That content will be sent through space and will land intact on Mars for future human explorers to recover.

After months of case studies and research, the teams successfully met the review criteria to move into the next major phase of the project: design of the actual spacecraft. The goal of the series of meetings – entitled a “System Requirements Review” (SRR) – was to review the readiness of systems requirements that have been developed by each university team that is responsible for a specific portion of the mission.

“This is the first of our reviews that will allow us to proceed with our conceptual design and validate the different design options,” said Cassidy Chan, TC2M’s Lead Systems Engineer and senior at the Florida Institute of Technology. “Our student teams have really come together around this milestone and we’ve built some great momentum. We’re now setting our sights on the next major technical review in January 2016.”

TC2M teams are developing and testing cutting-edge aerospace technology that will pave the way for new applications in both manned and unmanned spaceflight. The mission will be the first interplanetary “CubeSat” mission. CubeSats are miniaturized satellites used for space research at low costs. It will also be the first interplanetary mission to utilize ion electrospray propulsion being developed at MIT. TC2M also plans to use groundbreaking data storage technology to carry the digital content uploaded from around the world.

University teams physically and electronically present at the SRR meetings this weekend hailed from Duke, MIT, UConn, Florida Institute of Technology, and University of Colorado at Boulder. Other university teams involved in the TC2M mission include Georgia Tech, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Boeing members of the TC2M advisor team supported the SRR over the weekend. Tamika Jones and Jessica Zotta, both members of the Boeing advisor team, attended the meetings at Duke University. “It was a wonderful experience to be part of the student-led review of the TC2M mission this weekend. The students are making great progress, and we look forward to continuing our support of their requirements definition and subsequent reviews in the future.”  

The TC2M mission is headquartered and led out of Duke University, and was founded by Duke senior Emily Briere. 

About Time Capsule to Mars™

The world’s first student-led interplanetary mission, Time Capsule to Mars™ (TC2M), will design, launch and land intact a time capsule on Mars containing digital messages representing a snapshot of humanity on Earth. The mission will inspire today’s generation to commit to sending humans to Mars who will recover the capsule. TC2M intends to be one of the largest crowdfunded endeavors, aiming to raise $25 million. TC2M is a project of the non-profit Explore Mars, Inc. Read more about our mission here, follow us on Twitter @TimeCapsuleMars or #TC2M, and on Facebook.

About Explore Mars 

Explore Mars was created to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. To further that goal, Explore Mars conducts programs and technical challenges to stimulate the development and/or improvement of technologies that will make human Mars missions more efficient and feasible. In addition, to embed the idea of Mars as a habitable planet, Explore Mars challenges educators to use Mars in the classroom as a tool to teach standard STEM curricula. Explore Mars, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.