Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > Future Mars Missions and Societal Issues

Future Mars Missions and Societal Issues


This learning module and related exercises will expose students the issues of space exploration and the other NASA-partnering agencies and institutions as well as private companies engaged in space-related technology. Students address socio scientific issues and apply the nature of science to real-world decisions regarding human space flight.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:
  • Become aware of NASA partnering agencies and private companies engaged in space-related technology.
  • Design a mission and experience the panel review/decision process.

Context for Use

This particular module does not apply any Earth analog approaches, but rather exposes students to the philosophy and ethics of privatized vs. government-funded research programs. Students practice with the realities of a cutting a budget in preparation for the Mission to Mars project.

Description and Teaching Materials

Compiled In-Class Activities and Homework

In-Class Activity


Teaching Notes and Tips

  • Homework 1 should be given prior to the Mission to Mars Project due date to give students experience.
  • Become aware of the issues yourself before engaging in a discussion with students regarding privatization.


Each In-Class Activity and Homework has its own measure of Assessment. 

References and Resources

  1. Lesson 22: Space X Press Release (Acrobat (PDF) 177kB Oct16 12)
  2. Mission to Mars Rubric (Acrobat (PDF) 56kB Oct16 12)
  3. Manned-Space flight News Article (find most recent):
  4. NASA Human Space Flight Goals:
  5. NASA roadmap for Astrobiology:
  6. Space-X CEO Interview:
  7. Space X's Dragon spacecraft docking with the ISS: