Miami to South Texas: sailors hope to train future Mars astronauts, dock near SpaceX

SpaceX

"Seafarers of today provide a remodel for spacefarers of tomorrow," Reid Stowe.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (KVEO) — A group of sailors traveled through the Gulf of Mexico, from Miami to South Padre Island an ambitious goal in mind: to get the attention of the man that will likely send humans to Mars.

The crew of the “Starship” schooner, Anne, believes that they can provide astronauts with vital training that will help them in the voyage of a lifetime.  

Aboard the 70-foot schooner Anne sails the man with the record for the longest sea voyage ever recorded.  

In April 2007, Reid Stowe, 69, sailed the ocean for three years on the schooner he built himself in the 70s. He never resupplied or came ashore. 

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

Stowe’s wife, Sonia Ahman, joined him for part of the trip until they found out she was pregnant with their now 12-year-old son, Darshen Stowe.  

By July 2010, Stowe had spent a total of 1,152 days out at sea on the vessel; a good majority of it by himself.   

Over ten years after that momentous endeavor, Stowe has a new goal: to use his knowledge and experience to train the first astronauts to go to Mars through his Mars Ocean Analogs (MOA).  

Analog missions, according to the NASA website, “are field tests in locations that have physical similarities to the extreme space environments.” These analog missions can be held in a variety of environments to test variables in human behavior and technology.  

Stowe said that the experience and psychology behind sailing in the ocean can be comparable to a trip to Mars in many ways.

Sailors, just like astronauts, live in confined spaces, in dangerous environments, with limited resources, and must be adaptable, creative, and stay calm under pressure.  

“It’s training for tough people. It’s training for people who are not afraid,” said Stowe. “It’s training for people who can handle some physical challenges and some difficulties, so it’s not for everyone. But if you’re going to send people to Mars, the people who [go] to Mars should have training in every sort of environment.”

Capitan John Wolfe and Oliver Parody inside the Starship Schooner Anne. [KVEO]

Stowe’s analogs are already underway. On January 3, he and his crew departed from the Cape Fear River in North Carolina and spent 17 days at sea while on their way to West Palm Beach, Florida for the Mars Ocean Analog I-Demo.  

The demo was a success, as it presented many challenges and learning experiences for the crew. 

Captain of the Schooner Anne, John Wolfe, said bad weather in North Carolina broke spars on the boat that had to be repaired while at sea.  

“It’s definitely been challenging but it’s been very rewarding. It’s been a growth experience for everyone involved,” said Wolfe.  

A “Voyage to Starbase” was the next MOA. Stowe along with Captain Wolfe, 29, Gwen Whitney, 31, Oliver Parody, 31, Kate Wycks, 36, Andrew West, 30, and Eric Goss, 34, departed from Miami, Florida on April 1 and docked on Port Isabel on April 15.  Each member of this crew is a captain of their own vessel as well.

Their destination: SpaceX at Boca Chica, right at the doorstep of the launchpad that will one day send people to Mars. Stowe believes all he needs is 10 minutes in front of Elon Musk to convince him that he can train the future astronauts for their trip to Mars.  

“We are here targeting SpaceX, to say, ‘we have the knowledge and experience that no one else has, and we want to be a part of the training program that trains humans to go to Mars,’” said Stowe.  

Crew selfie with SN15 at SpaceX, Monday. [Courtesy: Reid Stowe]

Stowe and his crew visited the launch site and were able to take pictures with Starship SN15, Monday.

He is glad his crew was able to reach Boca Chica and see the flying counterpart to their Starship Schooner.  

The MOA will depart from South Padre Island this week and the crew will be joined by four professional Latin American analog astronauts.  

Stowe said that they will also soon be joined by space enthusiast, Alyssa Carlson, who has made it her lifelong mission to be the first person on Mars.  

If the program is picked up by SpaceX, Stowe said he will make South Padre Island and Port Isabel the home of their analog missions that will bring potential astronauts to the area.

“No one really knows what happens next, but the more prepared you are, the better the outcome is,” said Parody.  

You can read more about the Mars Ocean Analogs here.

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