The thrilling journey to reach Mars spans between six and nine months from Earth. The travel seems to be quite lengthy at first glance, but it pales in comparison to the Hypatia’s trip to the Mars Research Desert Station (MDRS), which required more than two years of dedicated effort to become a reality.
Hypatia is the first Catalan female-led mission composed of seven primary and two back-up members, from different ages and scientific disciplines. They garnered much attention during their mission presentation in Barcelona some days before heading to the Utah desert, in the United States.
On Monday 17th April, the crew members officially entered simulation around 2PM, before their first lunch as astronauts. Despite arriving 24 hours prior, adjusting to the new planet-like environment far from home took some time. Sergii Iakymov, the MDRS Assistant Director, conducted an exhaustive training session to familiarize the crew with the main facilities and restrictions that would be in place for the next two weeks.
Finally, with a sense of excitement the Crew Commander and Astronomer Hypatia I, Mariona Badenas-Agustí, exclaimed: “Welcome to Mars, girls!”. The crew then wasted no time and proceeded to plan its first two extravehicular activities (EVA) around the base. They put on their spacesuits, designed by the NASA rocket scientist and atmospheric physicist Sabrina Thompson, the woman behind Girl in Space Club.
The crew never put fun aside. For instance, during the three-minute time spent in the airlock, crew members inside the base played some music through the radios for the astronauts waiting to go outside for an EVA, turning it into a joyful moment. American and Catalan women artists were played, adding a touch of empowerment and celebration to the feminine crew’s experience.
One of the main goals of Hypatia is to inspire the next generations, particularly young girls interested in pursuing STEAM-related careers. The crew consists of one astrophysicist, two engineers, one mathematicians, and two biologists, who serve as role models for aspiring women in these fields. Additionally, there is a science journalist on board who documents all the scientific mission and the exciting adventure on Mars.