The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) has become a major sponsor of the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) and Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station projects.

The MDRS, whose external structure is currently in fabrication at the Built on Integrity facility near Las Vegas, Nevada, will be a simulated human Mars exploration station that will be deployed to a series of Mars-like desert locations to support space exploration operations research in the American southwest over the fall, winter, and spring seasons of the next five years. During the summer months, when the desert is too hot for such activity, the station will be placed on public exhibit in various prominent exhibition locations across the United States. There it will provide an avenue for daily public interaction with the crew of the Mars Society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, who will be operating during that season in the high Arctic desert on Canada’s Devon Island. Taken together, the two stations will thus enable a year round program of Mars exploration operations research.

In addition to their research role, the Mars stations will also serve an important public outreach function, making the vision of humans exploring other planets real for millions of people, and inspiring countless numbers of youth to get technical educations in order to have a part in humanity’s coming great adventure.

Commenting on UA General President Martin J. Maddaloni’s decision to sponsor the project, UA Director of Training George Bliss said; “We’re doing this to make clear to young people that you don’t have to be a fighter pilot to be a space pioneer. Members of the building trades built the great cities of this country, and when it comes time to build cities on Mars, we are the ones who are going to build them.”

The UA’s message will be reinforced by the content of an exhibit tent that will accompany the MDRS on its public outreach tours. In addition to a number of interactive exhibits, this tent will include a specially commissioned set of paintings by noted space artist Robert Murray that depict the growth over time of a small Mars base into a true settlement, highlighting the role of working men and women in making that happen. Members of the UA will serve alongside Mars Society members as facilitators in the traveling exhibit tent, and a member of the UA has been invited to serve as part of the crew of the Mars Desert Research Station after it becomes operational this fall.

The UA was founded in 1889 and has 320,000 members throughout the United States and Canada.

Responding to the UA’s sponsorship decision, Mars Society president Robert Zubrin said; “We are extremely proud to have the UA as a sponsor of our project. This is an alliance of pioneers in labor and science. The UA was one of the first American unions, and the men and women it represents built the hearts of the steam engines that powered the industrial revolution, drove the trains that opened the west, and moved the ships that brought millions of immigrants to this country and helped win two world wars. They’ve plumbed the arteries of the skyscrapers that adorn our cities, and built much of the launch complexes that are now opening the new frontier of space. They’re not just the right stuff, they’re the real stuff.”

For further information from the Mars Society, contact Robert Zubrin, (303)980-0890

For further information from the UA, contact George Bliss, (202)628-5823