Boeing engineer practices Mars trip in Utah desert

Apr 18, 2011

Despite having to endure a broken toilet, lousy food and fifteen days in a cramped research station in the Utah desert, a Boeing engineer says she's still enthusiastic about one day making a trip to Mars.

"It was a very collaborative environment," Manyapu said. "We're all working toward space exploration but are working on our own contributions."

The engineer, Kavya Manyapu, told The Daily Herald that the location of the Mars Desert Research Station really looks like Mars. And the adventure through the Mars Society presented some of the same experiences astronauts are expected to face on a two-year space mission.

The Mars Society was established to help identify and solve problems associated with a mission to Mars - a trip that would take about two years.

The six astronauts had to repair their toilet and conserve water while they conducted tests on growing bacteria. They also put on space suits to venture outside to gather soil samples. Crew members shared a space that's just 26-feet in diameter.

Manyapu's dreamed of being an astronaut since her childhood in India. Since coming to this country, she's earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech and a master's degree in aeronautics and engineering at M.I.T. Now she works on the Boeing 777 in Everett. The Utah research trip is another step toward her goal of space exploration.

And at the end of the fifteen days?

"We were all wishing we could stay for another fifteen."