Last Wednesday, rocket scientist and Lockheed Martin Deputy Programs Manager Jim Paradise made Mars seem, well, almost inviting.  Showing photos of the history of Mars exploration and recent discoveries, Jim laid out the current Mars exploration schedule, calling for an American landing on the red planet in 2033.  Explaining that Mars takes two of our earth years to make a single sun rotation, the 7-month trip to Mars is only practical every two years, when Mars and Earth are at their closest.  Imagine the challenge of traveling with 3 of your ‘new best friends’ for 7 months, each way, in a space no larger than a camper van.  The total mission will require approximately 3 years.    

In one of our more popular programs, Jim also spoke to our club in 2010 as a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador.  In addition to being Deputy Programs Manager, Jim is responsible for the Engineering Leadership Development Programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.  He has worked in Space Exploration for 34 years, and been involved in engineering of the Space Shuttle, the Atlas and Titan Launch Vehicles, the Manned Maneuvering Unit, dozens of satellites, and most space probes launched in the past 30 years. 

Jim grew up in rural Iowa and Nebraska, graduating from high school in a class of 30.  He was the first NASA Solar System Ambassador for the state of Colorado, visiting schools and other groups in that capacity for more than 18 years.  He has degrees in Electrical Engineering and Systems Engineering, a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering.