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first_imgFor the past eight years, Diaz has worked at Boeing Co. in Huntington Beach, supporting the Space Exploration Division. He recently began work in a different division – the Space and Intelligent Systems. “Ever since I was a child in Peru, I have been interested in space,” said Diaz. Diaz came to California when he was 10. After high school he attended UCLA, where he studied aerospace engineering. Diaz said in participating in the Mars project, he wants to bring back more than technical knowledge and hands-on experience. “I want to bring back a greater appreciation for the intricacies involved in developing planetary procedures,” he said. In the next 20 to 30 years, Diaz said he expects that humans will be sent to Mars. Muscatello said The Mars Society was founded on that belief, and that the first step after the approximate six-month mission would be called a settlement, where humans would live a year and a half on the planet. It might not be too far out in his future when the day comes, and Diaz said he would love to be part in helping develop those missions. As for the daily living in Utah’s desert, Diaz said, “Once you’re there – you’re there.” No cell phones, television or fast food will be accompanying the crew, although they will have access to e-mail (which on Mars will not be instant but have a five-minute delay). The day begins with personal time and breakfast, then the crew reviews what they will be doing outside the habitat. “Every time you go out of your habitat you have to wear your spacesuit,” he said, which can take up to an hour to prepare for because they even go through an airlock after they are suited. On a lighter note, but not a lesser one, Diaz hopes to be an inspiration to children. “I want to motivate kids to continue studying, and \ that with determination you can accomplish many things,” he said. [email protected] (909)483-8555 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We’ll simulate being hit by a solar storm,” he said. “You can die if you can’t get into a shelter,” Diaz said. “We’ll have a gauge, and before it even hits, satellites would tell us a flare is going to hit.” It’s his second foray to the research station. “Alex has already served on a crew,” said Tony Muscatello, director of MDRS for the Mars Society. “He did a good job and helped improve the realism of our simulated spacesuits by putting duct tape around the fingers of the gloves. “A space suit is essentially a balloon,” he said. “The pressure inside is 14 pounds per square inch, making it tough to bend your fingers.” In 10 days, Alejandro Diaz will be making his second trip to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, where the 1993 Walnut High School graduate will be part of a crew that spends two weeks simulating life and work on Mars. The barren landscape of Canyonlands desert is similar to Mars-like terrain and appearance, where a two-story, 30-foot-wide cylinder mimics a space habitat complete with sleeping quarters, a kitchen, bathrooms and airlocks. Six crew members ranging from a biologist, geologist and engineers will be participating on the central theme of emergency preparedness for work on Mars. Diaz, 32, of Chino Hills, was chosen to lead the crew’s outdoor experiments. last_img read more