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3 April 2015 Commander Report

Last night, our team enjoyed a dinner of Karen's homemade breakfast enchiladas. They were as wonderful as they sound. Karen also made a ginger-snap crust caramel pie with whipped cream topping for dessert. The team devoured the pie.

During comm window, the team enjoyed a game of Cards Against Humanity. Everyone felt caught up enough with their projects to have a more relaxed evening.

The team enjoyed a lights out at 10:30.

The team awoke today at 7 am to Drew's selection of some Texas country music. Everyone enjoyed a breakfast of homemade blueberry and apple-cinnamon pancakes. We forwent the yoga this morning to enjoy a sit-down breakfast together.

After breakfast, the team cleaned up and started to plan the day. After a short planning meeting, Luis, Lori, and I went outside to do the engineering report. Luis and I wore the “bubble helmets”. Lori tested Sam's revised helmet.

After the engineering report, Karen, Luis, and Sam went on the EVA led by Karen. Karen tested her ham radio repeater with limited success. Lori worked to interpret her raw data results from her soil tests. I helped Lori look over her data. Drew worked on lunch. He made macaroni and cheese, spinach, and carrots.

Karen's EVA crew returned and the team enjoyed a lunch together. After lunch, crew members separated to analyze the data from their projects.

Drew and Karen will be worked on making Shepherd's pie for dinner. They will be using a recipe they found at MDRS and everyone is very excited about it. After dinner, the team will clean the hab in preparation for the news crew that will be coming out here tomorrow. We will also practice our “MDRS sound bytes”.

After comm window, the crew may watch a movie together, as we start to pack our things and make sure the hab is in order to do the hand over tomorrow with crew 152B.

We have advised crew 152B that they may need to purchase trash bags and powdered eggs. However, all other supplies are fully stocked.

Tomorrow, our crew will stay through comm window and leave the hab at 9 pm. The other crew may elect to start sim at 9 pm or elect to start sim on Sunday.

Thoughts on the stay:

All in all, it has been a fantastic stay. Crew members performed their research projects. Most crew members are satisfied with the data collected on their research.

Drew has been an invaluable commander-in-training for next year. He has already expressed an interest in bringing students out for next year's rotation, if his schedule allows. Several of the crew members have also expressed an interest in returning in subsequent rotations and extending their projects.

The team morale has been excellent. Having down time in the evening after comm has very much helped with this. Playing “silly” card games has really allowed team members to open up with each other, and this has made the overall experience fantastic. I think part of MCC's success with MDRS missions thus far has been because we explicitly place an interest in the team environment and on team building. I have seen the results of this and have been amazed, both this year, and in past years, at how successful our missions have been. I rate the mission success, both in terms of projects performed and also on how everyone feels after the mission.

The crew does have some concerns they would like to bring up to Mission Support. There are concerns with how much actual time our crew was alloted in sim. Our crew spent the entire day Saturday out of sim, learning from the other crew what was expected of us. Our crew spent the entire day Sunday out of sim, doing chores around the hab that needed to be done (and that we were very happy to help with). It was very difficult to get any work done on Thursday because the Australian news crew spent the majority of the day with us. We are not going to get much, if any, work done tomorrow because we will be working with the other news crew and with the hand-off to crew 125B.

This left basically Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday in full-sim. This has been a drastically different experience for me; the past two times I have been, our crew spent 6 or 7 days in full-sim.

We did have some trouble with the engineering report. However, after I was directed to the template, this made the reports much easier on us and much less of a problem for Mission Support.

As always, the food was excellent. MDRS does a fantastic job providing us with all different types of foods to keep us well fed and happy.

Lori's research went very well. She collected all the samples she needed. Half of her samples have already been analyzed for phosphorous, nitrate, potassium, and pH levels. The other half will need to be analyzed back in Waco, TX (we only brought one soil analysis kit). She has some really good preliminary data, which she will expand on when we get home.

Luis was able to collect all 27 samples that he needed. This was a particularly large challenge for him, as physically collecting the samples was a difficult task. Also, finding the waypoints where the samples were located also proved quite challenging. However, Luis prevailed. He has samples we will ship back to Waco tomorrow, where he will analyze them with our GC/Mass Spec.

Sam was able to retrofit a motorcycle helmet to the MDRS space suit. This helmet proved to be much more comfortable, less cumbersome, and more practical than the current bubble helmets. Sam's design included a built-in radio system which also proved very helpful. We are very excited about Sam's design and are interested in seeing how this design may be implemented in future MCC missions, due to the safety nature of riding ATVs in bubble helmets.

Karen's project did not work as anticipated. She speculates her repeater was damaged on her first EVA. She plans to repair the repeater back in Waco and conducting additional tests to see if the ham repeater could help extend communication while in sim.

Drew has been a very helpful commander-in-training. He has been so excited/happy to be on Mars and has really been the heart of the team. He has worked very hard at his role as journalist and has made sure pictures have been taken. He hopes to be able to come back to MDRS (if his schedule allows). I think he will make an excellent commander.

As stated previously, this rotation has been highly successful, in terms both of projects completed and team morale. We are all tired and happy at the success of our mission. We are looking forward to showers (nobody has had a full shower since we have been in sim) and seeing our families on Easter.


1. There are a whole bunch of mac books that are under the "computer table" in the upstairs portion of MDRS.  Do these mac books belong to MDRS?

2. We wanted to confirm for crew 152B: we are only alloted on EVA per day?