The Martian, Fact vs. Fiction

Philip R. Wilkinson

DENVER – The first science fiction movies depicted men flying to the moon in a cannon shell, over time this idea transformed into massive star ships that could travel across galaxies.  However, in recent years’ audiences have become more interested in the reality of space travel and not a fantastical, unrealistic, vision of it.

Oct. 8, 2015, Hollywood director Ridley Scott released his latest work The Martian just three years after the release of his previous film Prometheus in 2012.  Prometheus is a more classical depiction of science in film with ships that can cross vast interstellar distances with no issue. 

On the other hand, The Martian stays strictly based in reality with technology that is currently being developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for a manned mission to Mars.

The Martian is based off of the 1990’s plan, Mars Direct, by Dr. Robert Zubrin for an inexpensive and currently achievable mission to Mars.  This plan calls for two launches to Mars, the first being a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) which lands on the red planet two years before it’s crew arrives.  The vehicle immediately begins producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere which is combined with stored hydrogen to fuel the craft for the crew’s return to Earth.

Two years later the first crew arrives at Mars after their six-month journey through deep space, just as a second MAV for the next mission also arrives.  The crew then lands on Mars in their habitat near the first MAV and begins exploring the surrounding area.

After their short stay on the surface is over the crew then packs into the MAV for the six-month voyage to Earth.


The details of this plan are available on courtesy of NASA’s Ames Research Center:



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