HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – After a week in the Rio Grande Valley, the Mars Ocean Analog (MOA) crew will depart from Port Isabel for their next mission, accompanied by four Latin American analog astronauts.  

A group of sailors lead by the man who set the record for the longest sea voyage, docked on Port Isabel last week after completing the second MOA aboard the ‘Starship’ Schooner Anne.  

Each member of the crew was a Capitan of their own vessel and capable of sailing on their own, but they boarded the Schooner Anne to learn from Captain Reid Stowe, 69. 

‘Starship’ Schooner Anne docked on Port Isabel. [KVEO]

Stowe has a unique set of skills that few possess and those hoping to one day go to Mars want.   

While Stowe holds the record for the longest consecutive days at sea, which was 1,152 days; the record for the most consecutive days spent in space is held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov for his 438 days aboard the Mir space station. 

During his three years out at sea, Stowe used survival and psychological skills that he believes can be applied during a voyage in outer space.  

Stowe is now passing on the knowledge to those hoping to make the journey to Mars. 

The MOAs are intended to simulate what it would be like to be aboard a spacecraft, with no one to call to for help and only your crewmates to rely on for survival.  

The perils of space travel are once again in the public consciousness as it becomes more apparent that humans may land on Mars within the next decade.  

At the forefront of those endeavors is SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, who recently made headlines this week for saying that “a bunch of people probably will die” at the beginning of Mars exploration, during an interview.  

But analog astronauts are well aware of those dangers, and that is why they are trying to prepare as much as possible.  

Four Latin American analog astronauts arrived on Port Isabel this week to join Stowe and Captain Oliver Parody on the third MOA mission.   

Analog astronauts, Stowe and Parody at Boca Chica Beach. [Courtesy: Reid Stowe]

Luis Dias, 28, from Peru, Marcos Bruno, 25, from Argentina, Danton Bazaldua, 27, from Mexico, and David Mateus, 25, from Colombia, have all taken part in other analog missions around the world, some funded by NASA. 

“This is my fourth analog mission,” said Bazaldua. “The first one was in Poland in Lunares Station, second was in Mars Research Desert Station, third was in NASA’s funded Inflatable Lunar Mars Habitat in North Dakota University.” 

Of all the analog missions, they feel this may be the one that best simulates a voyage to Mars.  

“In the Mars Ocean Analog, we will be facing one of the most hard analog experiences until now because the environment will be more complex and the risk will [be] more real like a real travel to the red planet,” said Diaz.  

“This is different to the other analogs that I have visited because this will simulate our journey to Mars; the others simulated our life on Mars,” said Mateus. 

After arriving, the analog astronauts took the time to visit the SpaceX launch site with Stowe and Parody.  

“Visiting SpaceX was a dream come true, and I am really happy I had the opportunity to see in front of me the gateway that will make us a multi-planetary species,” said Bruno.  

Leaving for their analog mission from such close proximity to the SpaceX facility made the crew feel like they were truly on a voyage to Mars, said Bazaldua.  

They will be out at sea for two weeks and will sail to Palm Beach, Florida, where they will take the next analog crew to sea.  

Aside from Stowe, the fourth MOA will consist of all females, among them will be space enthusiast Alyssa Carlson and astrobiologist Michaela Musilova

To learn more about the MOA you can visit their website and follow their Facebook page.