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MarsDrive Agenda

Tim Volkert has compiled the following "To-Do" list for MarsDrive. The list can be ammended or corrected over time.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 2

The List 2

Ideas for MarsDrive: Marsman. 2

More Ideas: Tim Volkert 3

To-Do: 4

Public Relations and the Media. 4

Who to contact: Red1. 4

To-Do: 4

Booklists. 5

Points to consider: MirariNefas. 5

To-Do: 6

Newsletter 7

To-Do: 7

Mars Media Presentation. 7

To-Do: 7

The MarsDrive Book Project 8

To-Do: 8

Future Mars Exploration Designs. 8

Mars Rail Sim: milw.. 8

To-Do: 8

Magazine. 8

To-Do: 8

MarsDrive Conventions. 9

To-Do: 9

Funding Campaign Think-Tank. 9

Money for Mars: Marsman. 9

To-Do: 9

Membership Dues and Expanding the Red Colony Store. 10

To-Do: 10

MarsDrive Organization. 10

The Focus Groups: Tim Volkert 10

Resource Management 10

Public Awareness. 11

Website Management 11

Contact and Coordination. 11

Philosophy. 11

To-Do: 11

MarsDrive Survey. 12

MarsDrive Survey: Red1. 12

To-Do: 12

Streamline MarsDrive Forum.. 12

To-Do: 13

Conclusion. 13


MarsDrive is a very apt name for our new committee.  Our goal and our main tool comprise the word, constantly reminding all involved of both.  In getting to Mars, we need drive.  Simple.  So in an effort to streamline all the creative drive and energy of Red Colony, I have composed a list of projects that MarsDrive can start working on right away, in response to the goals it has outlined so far in the forum.

Each section begins with a small explanation, such as this, and may include a relevant link from the forum, sometimes with a quote below it.  The quote is a part of the a member’s post, and is copied in its entirety.  I have not changed anything, including spelling, grammar, etc.  These represent the core ideas behind each section.

A crucial thing to remember is that MarsDrive is limited to no one.  Everyone can participate, by making suggestions about the site or the committee, posting ideas in the forum, writing articles, referencing friends, etc.  We are a community-based team, and we welcome input from everybody!

Our eventual goal is, of course, getting the public to understand what Mars can offer us, in terms of exploring our solar system, searching for life, developing technologies that will allow us to live there, and ultimately understanding our place in the universe.  By making the leap to interplanetary travelers, we are beginning a new chapter in the book of life on Earth.  Finally we are capable of journeying to another planet, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t happen now.  It is in our capability.  All we need is the drive.


* * * * *


The List

Marsman has put out a very comprehensive list of objectives for MarsDrive that can now be adopted more formally.  All these goals are rough-edged and mere outlines, so I have attempted to flesh them out in more detail in each following section.  Marsman and the rest of the committee can feel free to add to any of these at any time. 




Ideas for MarsDrive: Marsman

1.Media relations and promotions- Letters and emails, phone calls, etc to newspapers, movie makers, publishers, T.V stations, radio, etc outlining to them our purpose and asking them if they have any Mars related issues coming up and submitting to them our vision for their part in this campaign.
2.School Books program. With the aim to get sci fi and non fiction Mars and space books into school programs, through letters, emails, etc We will need a recommended list for all age levels to submit that has credibility.
3.Newsletter- A monthly paper with say 3 to 5 small articles on Mars and Mars related news, plus our contact details we can all print out at home. Tim would be good at that.
4.Work on making our own Mars documentary/presentation to go out on DVD and powerpoint, etc This is a project that will excite many of all ages.
5.Make efforts to publish our own book of short stories which are already on Red Colony and any others that want to contribute. The Book project.
6.Future designers program where people can submit their own images and drawings of space ships, Mars bases, cities, terraforming, etc
7.A magazine published say every 4 months to start with filled with good articles and images to inspire people to get involved in the Mars efforts.
8. Organize a convention with as many space and Mars groups as possible that can present their ideas to the general public- This would be very popular.
9. The funding campaign think tank. People coming together to adress the issue of how can we privately fund Mars missions, and how could we help the current explorers like JPL, NASA, ESA, etc
10. A membership option like all the other Mars/space groups where people pay a small fee yearly to be a part of all this and to help fund our efforts. You could start this at any time but probably later would be better after we have got things moving a bit.
11. Increase the Store with some books, and new slogan T shirts we can work on also.”


Some of these points blend into each other during the start.  For example, the newsletter, book project, and magazine all require Red Colony members’ articles and short stories to begin with, so I have less to-do’s for the latter two.

Also, with our current resources and abilities, some just aren’t very feasible right away.  The magazine takes money and contacts that we don’t have right now, and the need for a convention is currently satisfied by other and much larger Mars groups (the Mars Society).  And it doesn’t help that our members, being part of an online forum, are spread out across the world.


More Ideas: Tim Volkert

  1. Efficiently organize MarsDrive to be as little of a bureaucracy as possible
    1. NASA is a perfect example of a glorious and well-structured space organization that became too structured and suffered as a consequence
    2. Stay clear of most hierarchies (no need for a president, vice-president, etc.).  No one needs to be told what to do, but certain tasks need to get done
    3. Determine what jobs are needed, and create loose “focus groups” for those only

                                                              i.      Resource management group- determines what resources (money) are needed for certain projects

                                                            ii.      Public awareness group- gets Red Colony and MarsDrive to the public through advertising, word of mouth, etc.

                                                          iii.      Website management group- takes care of RedColony.com (currently, by gracious default, its creators) and expands it as necessary

                                                          iv.      Contact and coordination group- possibly the most critical group, makes contact with other Mars and space advocacy groups/important persons and tries to join together with them in coordinating activities such as listed below

                                                            v.      Philosophy group- seriously, it is a good way to be grounded in what we are talking about when we discuss to outsiders why we should go to Mars.  Knowing the actual philosophical reasons behind space exploration is key to convincing others it is worthwhile.

  1. Create a survey to hand out to normal people to gauge public interest in Mars exploration
  2. Streamline the MarsDrive forum in Red Colony
    1. Right now, the forum is haphazard, with booklists being discussed in “MarsDrive,” two different topics with the word “petition,” etc.
    2. Make official MarsDrive Topics to deal with each idea presented in this list.  A single easy-to-find 5 or 6 page topic is better than 5 or 6 scattered short topics



  1. Submit ideas for our to-do lists
  2. Add to and expand


* * * * *


Public Relations and the Media

On this point, our primary goal is to make contact with other space advocacy groups that deal with the media extensively.  We will be sending them a standard format letter of introduction outlining who we are, what our goals are, and how we plan to achieve them.  The MarsDrive committee will decide on the letter’s contents and appearance, based on what is decided in the forum.  This letter will be sent to numerous affiliations and space advocacy groups like ours, including other online forums, high schools, and universities across the world.

It is also important to make our presence known in the more “official” arena of politics.  This is a murky area for everybody, and it will be entered into with the most extreme caution and after much delegation on the part of MarsDrive.  Essentially, before sending out anything to a politician, we will discuss who to contact, what to say, and how to say it.

In the meantime, feel free to continue directing people at any level, of any age, and from any area of interest to Red Colony and MarsDrive, as we welcome input from all sources.




Who to contact: Red1

-I am currently drafting letters to some key officials/people regarding coordination efforts within the various groups, including Ann Druyan of Cosmos Studios, Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society, Kim Stanley Robinson, Buzz Aldrin, and the Planetary Society.”



  1. Create a “blank” letter as a standard format.
  2. Define how to explain aspects of MarsDrive and Red Colony to outside groups
    1. Goals
    2. Plan to achieve goals
    3. Members
    4. Structure
  3. Make letter easily and quickly understandable, “PR friendly”
  4. Decide who to send to
    1. Cosmos Studios (http://www.carlsagan.com/)
    2. Mars Society (http://www.marssociety.org/index.asp)
    3. NewMars.com (http://newmars.com/)
    4. Local TV news stations
    5. Radio (NPR, more powerful than one would expect)
    6. Local/national/global newspapers
    7. Politicians: CAUTION…
    8. Any others?
  5. Ask for assistance
    1. Publication (newspapers)
    2. Media coverage (radio/TV)
    3. New information
    4. Local support (link to site, articles)


* * * * *



The idea of creating a science fiction/Mars-related book list has gained quite a bit of momentum, with a lot of support all over the forum.  This list would then be sent to school boards, both national and regional, for review and inclusion in district curriculum.  We will first compile a list of possible books and try to find as much information on them as possible (yes, this means book reports), through our own reviews and others we can find online and from book clubs, newspapers, etc.  Then we will pick those that seem like likely/important candidates to send in for consideration to the school boards.

By adding science fiction into school’s teaching, we will be opening up the minds and sparking the imaginations of literally thousands of children and teenagers across the nation, and eventually the world, in much the same it happened with many of us.  These books fill the spirit with longing for everything from knowledge to freedom from gravity.  By spreading the same inspirations that led a great deal of us to where we are now, we give that inspiration to others to help take us to Mars.




Points to consider: MirariNefas

“Popularity. This increases their effectiveness. Best-sellers are a good idea.

Realism/feasibility. Primarily a better trait for older students. Younger grades just need things to stimulate the imagination.

Reading-level. (goes without saying)

Political correctness. We shouldn't step on toes with books that depict alternative views of religions and such. If you've read the Hyperion series, that's an excellent example of what we have to sadly avoid.

Cultural impact. If the best-sellers of yesteryear are thought to have better literary merit, than why not the sci-fi books of yesteryear that profoundly affected the genre/society? Think Ringworld, or Asimov's Robots books.”



  1. Send in suggestions for book list to MarsDrive board
  2. Create list of all suggestions
  3. Gather data on all suggestions
    1. Full title
    2. Author
    3. Publisher
    4. Publishing date
    5. Short summary (pointing out features schools would like to see)
    6. Full reviews- for MarsDrive- from either Red Colony members or outside sources
    7. Suggested reading level
  4. Decide which ones would be acceptable for schools
  5. Compile final list of accepted books (remember, we are not book banning, we are book accepting for schools)
  6. Send uniform lists in to various school boards for consideration
    1. National
    2. State
    3. Local
    4. District


In addition, here are all the books I could find that were suggested in the forums.  We can start from these.

[Name, author, (publishing date)]


Cosmos, Carl Sagan (1980)

Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson (1993/1995/1996)

The Real Mars, Michael Hanlon (2004)

A Traveler’s Guide to Mars, William K. Hartmann (2003)

Are We Moving to Mars?, Anne E. Schraff (1996)

Dune, Frank Herbert (1981)

First Landing, Robert Zubrin (2001)

1984, George Orwell

2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke (1968)

2010: Odyssey Two, Arthur C. Clarke (1982)

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

Ringworld, Larry Niven

I, Robot, Isaac Asimov

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

Clade, Mark Budz (2003)

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

Moving Mars: A Novel, Greg Bear


* * * * *



A newsletter containing updates on Red Colony’s and MarsDrive’s progress would be a great way to keep all of our members up to date on what we have accomplished.  It could have current news articles about Mars and its exploration, as well as other explorations of our solar system.  Articles and short stories written by members of Red Colony that they have sent/continue to send in could be included, as well, in addition to being on the site.

I know personally that we have many options regarding a newsletter.  The Mars Society uses Yahoo! Groups, the Marquette High Astronomy Club uses an email account created solely for its newsletter, etc.  If the extra work doesn’t kill our site’s already franticly busy administrators, we may even find a way to send it from the site.



  1. Determine the best source for a newsletter
  2. Name it!
  3. Develop a nice-looking standard newsletter format
  4. Decide on frequency of publication
    1. Weekly?
    2. Monthly?
  5. Brainstorm possible columns.  Suggestions:
    1. This _____ on Mars (updates on the rovers, new information etc.)
    2. Astro Facts (random astronomical tidbits)
    3. Opinions
    4. Hot Topics in Red Colony
    5. Article/Short Story Highlight


* * * * *


Mars Media Presentation

This can be a number of things, such as a documentary, a slide show, or even just a list of features that can be found at Red Colony.  Our options our very open here.



  1. Think of possibilities for our own media presentation on Red Colony and MarsDrive.
  2. Decide what format the presentation should be

The MarsDrive Book Project

A compilation of pertinent articles, short stories, etc.



  1. Create a list of MarsDrive-related material
  2. Send in more articles, short stories
  3. Format


* * * * *


Future Mars Exploration Designs

Have members submit their own sketches or 3D renderings of technologies for the exploration of Mars.  These may include rovers, “walkers,” communications equipment (handheld, wrist-based or larger), surface transportation, rocket boosters, orbital stations, etc.  Any and all ideas are accepted, and these can be added to Red Colony’s “Art & Screenshots” page for everyone’s perusal.  These images will inspire people and give them a real picture for what the future of Mars may hold.




Mars Rail Sim: milw

“I've been making some modelled items for a rail sim program (TRS2004) using MOLA terrain models and some of the Mars Direct ideas. Here's a screen shot of some initial pieces.”



  1. Encourage members with legally-owned, computer-based art programs OR scanners for their sketches to submit them to Red Colony
  2. Expand the current Red Colony “Art & Screenshots” page to accommodate the new pieces, with greater emphasis on the page


* * * * *



An official magazine for Red Colony and MarsDrive would be great for a mature organization.  We still have some work to go before we can afford the resources it would take to have one on a regular basis, but for now, we can start thinking up ideas for such a magazine.



  1. Ideas for a magazine
  2. Ways to generate funding



MarsDrive Conventions

Again, more suited for a better-known, mature organization with lots of resources and even more people, since ours are few and scattered.  Still, something to keep in mind for the future.  The Mars Underground, the most popular and well known (it’s not really underground at all) Mars conference, covers the bases fairly well, for now at least.



  1. Topics for such a convention
  2. What sets it apart from others?
  3. Setting
    1. Frequency
    2. Time
    3. Location


* * * * *


Funding Campaign Think-Tank

This could be another “focus group” under MarsDrive: the funding group.  They will decide on ways to generate funding from the public and get NASA, ESA, etc. to spend their respective budgets towards Mars in a cooperative way.  This is not just brainstorming, we will be actively researching current budgets and expenditures by national governments and space agencies, and seeing if we can’t suggest feasible budgets that would allow an aggressive Mars program to happen.




Money for Mars: Marsman

“We all want to go to Mars sooner rather than later but has anyone put serious thought into how we can realistically fund a manned mission to Mars? I have heard a lot of crazy ideas but I think what it comes down to is inspiration. The average people and business people must see Mars for what it could be in a way that hits their emotions and moves them to want to fund a Mars mission. They need to see the benefits with their own eyes but at present they cant. This will involve a massive media blitz using every format we can. If we do this, then people will consider funding a mission to Mars, what do you think?”



  1. Obtain annual budgets, past and present, of the international superpowers of space (U.S., Russia, Europe, etc.)
  2. Obtain annual budgets of national space agencies (NASA, ESA, etc.), and relative expenditures towards Mars exploration
  3. Create visual chart of some type, using Excel or another charting utility, showing each
  4. Adjust to allow for Mars missions, as alternative budgets


Membership Dues and Expanding the Red Colony Store

Charging members of Red Colony for the services of the website, although hypothetically a great way to solve our resources problem, would drastically decrease our potential.  Less new members would sign up, and existing members would drop out.  The expenses wouldn’t be so exorbitantly high, and would go to a great cause, but just introducing the hassle of online payments would only complicate things and alienate people from Red Colony’s previously open and communal feel.

We should, however, encourage people to share from the beginning, their own resources.  I would personally be happy to give to/buy from Red Colony and MarsDrive, whether or not my donation/purchase made a real difference, as would many other members.  Remind people from time to time about the Red Colony store, and that every donation helps; in a sense, advertise.



  1. Adjust site to place more emphasis on store
  2. DO NOT charge membership dues, but remind people of the option to donate
  3. Expand selection of items from store
    1. Instead of buying a Mars product through Amazon.com or eBay.com, buy it through Red Colony, where some of the proceeds go towards the site’s resources.
    2. Free prizes from store for contests, to spur on member participation


* * * * *


MarsDrive Organization

While I appreciate the need for order and regulation in any group of people over two, I also see very clearly the dangers of too much structure.  Highly bureaucratic groups are too rigid and formal to operate at their full potential, as evidenced by NASA’s smothering pecking order.  Becoming too enmeshed in titles, positions, and chains of command that are, at the end of the day, totally unwarranted, is a big temptation.  Wanting to be the president or administrator of something always comes second to actually getting something done.

We are not NASA.  We are not the Mars Society.  Where a position is not needed, we wont create it.

That being said, we should take a look at what positions we should have.  What jobs need to be taken care of?  Do they even really need an administrator?  Must we report on every mundane detail in a secret information sheet, or should the results be accessible for everyone right there in the forum?

Here’s what I’ve come up with.  These are the essential roles that MarsDrive should fulfill as I see them, and we can add to or subtract any of them.


The Focus Groups: Tim Volkert

Resource Management

Public Awareness

Website Management

Contact and Coordination



Since different groups will specialize in different areas, they will share work on individual tasks with other groups.  For example, to accomplish the newsletter, the Philosophy group can contribute articles on the ethics of terraformation, the Contact and Coordination group would have a list of what other organizations to send it to, and the Website Management group could be in charge of distributing it.

Note also that one does not have to be in a particular group to help!  The groups are simply ways to streamline a task by gathering people of like minds, interests, and abilities together to work towards a common goal.  Someone in the Philosophy group can chip in on the Public Awareness group’s discussion on advertising, while a Website Manager can help the Contact and Coordination group contact Ms. such-and-such about this-and-that.  The groups only allow people to identify with what particular area of Mars exploration advocacy they would like to focus on.



  1. Put up these focus groups in the “Leaders” section of Red Colony
    1. Make the “Leaders” section accessible from the front page
    2. Stay clear of group leaders
  2. Members join formally
    1. Add their status to their profile, maybe under username
    2. Members may join more than one group
  3. Get to work on various projects!
  4. After seeing who has volunteered in what focus groups, Frank, myself, and the RC team can then see what groups still need volunteers, and request help in certain areas, posted in the forum


* * * * *


MarsDrive Survey

One for the Public Awareness group mentioned above.  We are still mostly in the dark about what the public really thinks about going to Mars, and can only judge based on how much attention it is given to by the media.  A formal study conducted by MarsDrive, using real research principles and guidelines set down by the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/), would be a great way to find out for ourselves what the public thinks of going to Mars.




MarsDrive Survey: Red1

“The committee should be able to decide on this right away. I vote we start submitting questions here, then vote on which to put on the survey. I have Adobe Acrobat, so I or anyone else could create a PDF file with the survey, to be put up on the site. People from the whole site could then download, print a bunch off, and distribute them to friends, family, schools, etc. We can discuss where to distribute them and here also.”



  1. Submit questions for survey to the above link
  2. MarsDrive (mainly Public Awareness group) will review questions and pick the best
  3. Create survey
    1. Format (survey.pdf, survey.doc, etc.)
    2. Submit to Red Colony for people to print out
  4. Determine where/how surveys should be collected


* * * * *


Streamline MarsDrive Forum

As any online forum tends to be, the MarsDrive portion of Red Colony is a bit hectic.  Topics are addressed under different names, and many good ideas are lost to future ones because they are in obscure regions of the forum.

Here I only suggest creating topics for each of the ideas above that needs one.  Almost all should be discussed by the MarsDrive committee and members of Red Colony, but it would be best if each had its own topic right from the start.



  1. Create specific topics for each idea above (Booklists, newspapers, etc.), or stick to the topic already created and labeled correctly
  2. Try to keep relevant posts in the topics they are meant for


* * * * *



The point of MarsDrive is to take the ideas presented at Red Colony and put those ideas into action to get results.  We are taking all the what ifs, what abouts, and wouldn’t it be nice?s and making them how can we?s.  Ideas are still essential, but now we are focusing on making our ideas reality.

Remember to take these for what they are; a whole slew of suggestions to get MarsDrive going.  We need to get to work to get to Mars.  Here’s just some things for starters.  This will take more than a few nights, more than a few weeks, more than a few semesters.  Getting humans to land on Mars will take the continuous effort of everyone involved over many years.  Starting now is our best bet.

Let’s get to it!

Intro | What We Do | How to Help | Who we Are

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