NASA SP-AR3

ADVANCING 
THE FUTURE OF 
HUMANITY

CDR Melissa Lewis will 
lead the Ares III on a 
long-duration mission 
to examine Martian 
gullies and sediment 
deposits for evidence of 
subsurface ice.

THE COMPLETE MISSION GUIDE / 2035 - 2036

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The Ares space program represents the best of our 
aspirations, and its success will forever stand as an 
unforgettable reminder about what we can achieve with 
effort, imagination and teamwork.
 
Perhaps it’s the innate human desire to explore that 
propels us to venture so far from home, but I’ve always 
suspected that it has more to do with our innate desire 
to know who we are and where we come from that drives 
our actions.
 
Ultimately, that curiosity about where we’ve been is 
more about knowing where we’re headed.  
 
With that same sense of destination in mind, NASA will 
once again send a team of brave, dedicated explorers 
to Mars to further explore the past in the hopes of 
ascertaining our future.
 
By examining the Martian terrain and its geological 
history, we hope to learn more about why it wound up a 
desiccated, inhospitable world lest we find one day find 
our own planet on the same path.

Theodore Sanders
Director

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PICTURED  (L TO R FROM TOP):

   

CDR Melissa Lewis, Alex Vogel, Mark 

Watney, Dr. Christopher Beck, Beth 

Johanssen, and Rick Martinez.

Ares III will continue our investigation into the 
biological, atmospheric and geological history of 
Mars in an effort to learn what it was that depleted 
the planet’s atmosphere and dried up its oceans.  
 
To that end, our team of scientists will embark upon 
a 31-day surface mission to examine Martian gullies, 
pseudocraters and sediment deposits for evidence of 
subsurface ice. Samples will be put through a range 
of chemical analyses to look for clues of an ancient, 
oxygen-rich atmosphere.  

The gullies found near the Acidalia Planitia landing 
site have long been thought to be the result of erosion 
from steady flows of surface water. This mission will 
be the first time a team of researchers will be able to 
directly examine this particular site in the hopes of 
testing longstanding theories about the region.
 
Based upon their findings, we may not only 
learn about the planet’s past but its potential for 
engineering and sustaining life for longer-duration 
missions and nascent colonies.

Mission Overview

M I S S I O N   R OA D M A P

MARCH 23, 2033

 

Mission 

Directive

After Congressional approval, 

NASA formally announces 

goals and objectives for the 

Ares III mission.

Based on mission goals, the 

crew is screened and selected 

from a large pool of NASA and 

international astronauts.

Training for an Ares 

mission can take up to two 

years and is comprised of 

an array of scientific and 

technical exercises.

Provisions, artificial 

habitat and other vital 

equipment begins shipping 

to Mars through a series of 

unmanned supply drops.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2033

Crew 

Training

MAY 4, 2033

 

Crew  

Selection

SEPTEMBER 16, 2033

 

Presupply 

Missions

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June 29, 2035

 – Crew Launch

JULY 6, 2035

 

Hermes  

Departure

After performing the final 

round of safety and procedural 

tests, the team begins the 124-

day journey to Mars.

Once the journey is complete, 

the Ares III descends via 

MDV to the artificial habitat 

awaiting at the Acidalia 

Planitia site.

The crew will make a series 

of departures from the HAB 

to complete their primary 

scientific expedition beginning 

with soil samples.

Primary mission tasks 

complete, the crew preps 

the HAB for decommission, 

returns to the Hermes via MAV 

and sets sail for home.

NOVEMBER 8, 2035

Surface 

Operations

NOVEMBER 7, 2035

 

Mars  

Arrival

DECEMBER 5, 2035

 

Return  

to Earth

Crew readies for transport via traditional shuttle launch to 
rendezvous with the main vessel harbored in low orbit.

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C D R .   M E L I S SA   L E W I S

 

 
Commander Melissa Lewis will be 
the first woman to lead a mission to 
Mars. She brings a diverse range of 
experience and achievement to the 
role of Mission Commander.
 
Lewis graduated with honors from 
the US Naval Academy with a degree 
in oceanography and would go on to 
serve as an officer in the revamped 
Submarine Arctic Science Program.
 
After her time in the Navy, Lewis 
began working on her PhD at 
CalTech’s Division of Geological and 
Planetary Sciences. It’s there that she 
connected with the Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory and was encouraged to 
join NASA.
 
Soon after, she found herself 
completing a series of in-space 
missions, including several trips to 
the 

SpaceX Station

.

 
Recently, CDR Lewis spoke at a 
global technology conference hosted 
by UN Women and advocated for 
better access to STEM programs in 
developing nations and encouraged 
a new generation of women leaders 
across the world.

SELECTION

NASA Group 25 - 2026

HOMETOWN

Missoula, MN 

JOB SPECIALTIES

Commander, Geologist

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M J R .   R I C K   M A R T I N E Z

 
Rick Martinez joins the Ares III 
mission to Mars as pilot after eleven 
decorated years of service in the 
United States Air Force. 

Originally trained as a fighter pilot, 
Major Martinez eventually worked 
his way to the USAF Test Pilot School 
at Edwards Air Force Base where 
he made his mark as a top-notch 
pilot and continued to earn the 
respect and admiration of peers and 
commanders throughout his career. 

By age fifteen, the Major knew 
that his ultimate goal was NASA. 
His first step towards making that 
dream come true was earning a 
bachelor of science in astronautical 
engineering at the United States 
Air Force Academy. While at the 
academy, he also established himself 
as an amateur boxer and won a gold 
medal while leading the Falcons to a 
national championship. 

As he gets ready to embark on the 
mission of a lifetime, Martinez has 
the full support of his family and 
wishes that everyone will one day 
have the chance to visit space.

SELECTION

NASA Group 26 - 2029

HOMETOWN

Brooklyn, NY 

JOB SPECIALTIES

Pilot, MDV/MAV Specialist

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M A R K   WAT N E Y

 
Botanist Mark Watney spent eleven 
months working at NASA’s Goddard 
Space Flight Center before being 
selected for the Ares III Mission. 

A Chicago native, Watney attended 
the University of Chicago for his 
undegrad before moving on to 
Northwestern University where he 
earned a PhD in Plant Biology and
Conservation with an emphasis in 
hydropedalogy and environmental 
engineering. While a graduate 
student, he had his first experience 
with NASA by becoming a research 
fellow with the Graduate Student 
Researchers Program (GSRP). 
His work focused on hydrologic 
flow paths and sustainable water 
resources management within the 
Earth’s Critical Zone.

Mark then spent two years in the 
Peace Corps engineering sustainable 
agriculture and water irrigation 
systems for developing nations. 

Upon returning, he applied to the 
NASA Astronaut Candidate Program 
and was selected for his outstanding 
academic accomplishments, 
dedication and service to 
community, and an exemplary record 
of professional achievement.

SELECTION

NASA Group 27 - 2032

HOMETOWN

Chicago, IL 

JOB SPECIALTIES

Botany, Mechanical Engineering

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D R .   C H R I STO P H E R   B E C K

 
Dr. Chris Beck, flight surgeon for 
Ares III, graduated cum laude from 
the Yale School of Medicine. He 
was also a recipient of the Norma 
Bailey Berniker Prize, awarded 
to graduating students that best 
exemplify the disciplines and 
precepts of the Hippocratic Oath.

As a Captain in the United States 
Air Force Reserves, Dr. Beck 
completed extensive training in 
aerospace medicine. His record of 
accomplishment includes the Air 
Force Commendation Medal and the 
Meritorious Service Medal. 

Since joining NASA, Chris Beck has 
made two trips to the 

SpaceX Station

 

and completed five spacewalks 
(EVAs). He also furthered his 
training with a master’s degree 
in biomedical sciences and has 
published numerous journal pieces 
in collaboration with the National 
Space Biomedical Research Institute. 
His research has focused on 
musculoskeletal alterations and the 
effects of deep space travel.

For the upcoming mission to Mars, 
he will serve as the crew’s EVA 
specialist and biologist in addition to 
his flight surgeon duties.

SELECTION

NASA Group 26 - 2029

HOMETOWN

Hartford, CT 

JOB SPECIALTIES

Flight Surgeon, EVA Specialist

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A L E X   VO G E L

 
Alex Vogel joins the Ares III crew 
through a partnership between 
NASA and the European Space 
Agency. A noted scientist and 
experienced astronaut, Vogel will 
serve as the navigator on the Hermes. 
He will become the first German to 
go to Mars. 

He holds master’s degrees in both 
chemistry and astrophysics from 
The University of Bonn as well as 
a doctorate in chemistry from the 
University of Tübingen.

For his doctorate, Vogel spent six 
months in Antarctica performing 
research in conjunction with 
the Alfred Wegener Institute for 
Polar and Marine Research in 
Bremerhaven, Germany. The study 
examined ancient ice samples 
and measured chemical traces of 
greenhouse gases in ice cores. 

While in the field, he passed the 
time by volunteering to help with 
efforts to measure cosmic microwave 
background and has published 
dozens of papers in international 
journals. 

A family man, Vogel hopes that one 
day his daughter can follow in his 
footsteps.

SELECTION

2030 ESA Group

HOMETOWN

Künzelsau, GER 

JOB SPECIALTIES

Chemistry, Nav Systems, Astrophysics

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B E T H   J O H A N S S E N

 
Beth Johanssen displayed a 
prodigious aptitude for technology at 
an early age. Graduating high school 
at just sixteen, she’d go on to win 
NASA’s largest hackathon when she 
was seventeen before moving on to 
MIT for dual undergraduate degrees 
in math and computer science. 

Johanssen started a private software 
company prior to starting graduate 
school at Stanford University. Drawn 
to Silicon Valley, she was intent on 
becoming a software engineer and 
CEO. However, during this time 
she would come into contact with 
SpaceX executive Brett Parker at 
a conference on advanced systems 
theory. Impressed by her work, 
Parker recruited Johanssen to help 
develop the software that would 
later become an integral part of the 
Hermes operating system. Her work 
on the project inspired her decision 
to switch paths and join NASA. 

Fueled by her desire to make the 
trek to Mars, she was able to leverage 
her experience with the Hermes 
and secure a spot on the Ares III as 
its System Operator and Reactor 
Technician. Her knowledge and skill 
set make her an invaluable addition 
to the mission. 

SELECTION

NASA Group 27 - 2032

HOMETOWN

San Jose, CA 

JOB SPECIALTIES

SysOp, Reactor Tech