The Tiw program is the name of an ambitious H2M (Humans to Mars) program loosely based on the Apollo program, which I hope to develop and explain on this blog.
See: Why “Tiw”? if you’re curious about the name.
Here’s a mistake that I think many people in the Mars community seem to be making: They look at H2M as a single mission.
The attitude is one of: “Let’s just achieve that. Let’s just get humans to Mars. That’s the main goal, let’s focus on that, and not worry about anything that comes before or after.”
This mindset is understandable. Because funds are limited, we could only ever hope to afford a single H2M mission, hence why consider others? But such an approach is unlikely to succeed.
The goal of this blog is Mars settlement, and it’s therefore mostly about what happens after we begin sending humans to Mars. It’s not just about getting some people there and coming back. That kind of goal may be appropriate for a cold-war space-race in which one alpha tribe wants to display its technical superiority to another. But it’s not appropriate for the 21st century, where we recognise that we’re all one people sharing a single biosphere, the days of nationalistic competition is over (or soon will be), and we’re beginning to realise the importance to our future of expansion into space.
We need to look beyond just sending humans to Mars. To view H2M as a single mission is short-sighted, and should not be our goal. The goal is really to make humanity multiplanetary. In that context, perhaps Apollo is not the optimal example to follow, since it was indeed about simply winning a race and not about any kind of ongoing program of lunar settlement. However, Apollo was the greatest success in space exploration history, and there’s a reason for that: it was a program and not just a mission. The Apollo program was originally planned as a series of 20 missions. The first 10 missions were designed as preparation for the Moon landing. The second 10 missions were all planned as Moon landings; except, as we all know, Apollo 13 aborted and the last 3 missions were cancelled.
It’s not only about what happens after that first H2M mission, but also what happens before. Apollo 11 was a success because of what was achieved by the earlier missions.
The Tiw program is an H2M program designed to carry us through Stage 1 of Mars settlement: human exploration. The first series of missions (Phase 1) are designed to develop the necessary capabilities and experience for the first H2M mission to be a success. The second series of missions (Phase 2) are designed to develop the necessary capabilities and experience to take us to Stage 2: permanent settlements and infrastructure.
Phase 1 of the Tiw program includes a series of exercises in Mars analog environments on Earth (including places such as the Arctic and Antarctic, Utah, Arkaroola and Atacama), Earth orbit, the Moon, and perhaps Mars orbit. Some missions will be robotic.
Phase 2 obviously focuses on Mars.