Homemade Mission to Mars by Tom Sachs

Uploaded by vice on 09.06.2012

TOM SACHS: My name is Tom Sachs.
I'm 45 years old.
This is my Space Program.
Scientists will be analyzing Mars soil samples, determining
whether it's safe to inseminate the Mars surface.

VAN NEISTAT: The same energy and the same skill that NASA,
the other NASA, used to get their people to the moon, we
are using here.
And we're using all the money we can get our hands on.
We're using all the hours we can get out of ourselves, all
of our brain power, all of the research, to
accomplish this mission.
And in that respect, we are going to Mars.
LT SAM RATANARAT: There's a real buzz in the studio.
And everyone's always working on something different.
And if people are helping each other, and there's always
people coming in for studio visits.
And it's just kind of--
it's really alive, and it's really great.
It's the best job I've ever had.
TOM SACHS: The space program ended in October with the
closure of the shuttle program.
It's clear that companies like SpaceX, Elon Musk's private
thing, or Richard Branson or the Google guys, everyone's
got their own space program now.
And that's where the money's at.
And I think that my space program has as much teeth as
theirs do because mine wins hearts and minds.
MALE SPEAKER (OFFSCREEN): Three, two, one, main engine
start, zero, and lift off of the Atlas V with Curiosity,
seeking clues to the planetary puzzle about life on Mars.
TOM SACHS: The Mars Science Laboratory, MSL, Curiosity's
landing on Mars on August 4 is the greatest scientific
machine we've ever created.
It's a fantastic rover that has a mass spectroscopy
machine, laser emulation, great cameras.
And a rover, it runs on like a nuclear-power battery.
It's the most miraculous thing.
But you might not even know about it.
And your viewers might not know about it because it
doesn't have any people on it.
And, as sexual, reproducing beings, it's important that we
go to other planets to encourage people.
I mean, when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, you
imagined yourself in his shoes.
When that robot does laser emulation, it's really hard
for you to even imagine what that idea is.

I think we have to go to Mars.
It's an important place to go from a scientific perspective.
If you want to look at the big question--
where did we come from?
Mars has evidence of that there used to be water there.
If you took one semester of sedimentology in college, you
will believe that water was there, if you just study the
facts, the pictures, and understand how
water erodes rock.
And why is that important?
Well, wherever there was water, there was life.
GORDON MILLSAPS: This is the only--
not even NASA has like a completely freestanding LEM
module like this, aside from the ones that are on the moon.

What we've got in here is everything that the two
astronauts will need for the full mission, and then some.
Everything from--
I mean, we might put a little more emphasis on vibe than the
normal space program because we have the DJ mixer over here
with the CD player and an iPod dock.
We have the tequila, vodka, and whiskey bar, including
blunt pumps running through our own homemade dispensers.
MALE SPEAKER (OFFSCREEN): Seven, six, five,
four, three, two, one.
Lift off.

VAN NEISTAT: That's like the master.
And then you have all of the different cameras that are
spaced out.
So this is a chronological order of the things that are
going to happen.
So this is where you suit up, in the quarantine, this is
where the astronauts will suit up.
And then, eventually, we get to the launch
pad is right there.
That's the rockets, et cetera, et cetera.
And what this is basically a time line of the mission.
GORDON MILLSAPS: What I've learned
about the space program--
partly through our own work, but also through our
partnership with the folks at Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
with whom we've had a bit of a back and forth think tank over
the past two years-- where they fly over to us, drink
tequila, and talk about art.
We fly over to them, drink vodka, and talk about science.
It's really that it's just some dudes
in a glorified garage.
When they come over to our studio, and we talk about the
steering on the rover, where we took a golf
cart, cut it in half.
And the winch, mounted it to the steering so that you could
have push-button steering in your right hand.
We all sat around and just kind of fucked around with
ideas with our buddies from JPL.
And then we were like, man, how did you put those airbags
on the Pathfinder mission to Mars?
And he was like, I don't know.
We just tried some stuff, just like we're doing now.
And once it stopped popping, we thought it might work.
So we kind of realized there's a greater affinity between the
work that we have and their work than we'd
ever thought before.
GORDON MILLSAPS: This isn't just plywood and some artists,
like, trying to tell you that we're definitely going to Mars
on the Park Avenue Armory.
Like, we're actually dealing with our friends at NASA and
Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
We're actually figuring out real systems and talking about
existing systems.
And it's our hope that some of that little stoke, little bit
of excitement-- if one five-year-old comes out of
here with an idea that sticks with him for a few years, long
enough to get him to go and study things a little bit
deeper, every little bit of it's worth it.
TOM SACHS: I think what I've learned from NASA is stay out
of headquarters.
Don't ask permission from government.
Do it yourself because they will only mire you in
They will crush your spirit.
Don't get a motorcycle license.
That's what I learned.
Ride safe, but don't get involved in the system.