"We want to help with human expansion into deep spaces on Earth, Mars, and beyond."
Mars is having a moment. The success of science fiction blockbusters like The Martian, combined with the real-life spaceflight ambitions of luminaries like SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and former President Barack Obama, have made the Red Planet a major target for human exploration within the next generation. But as demonstrated by astronaut Mark Watney, the protagonist of The Martian, it's one thing to voyage to Mars, but quite another to live off the land for an extended period of time.
Morgan Irons, a senior at Duke University, wants to help bridge this interplanetary gap with her newly launched company Deep Space Ecology. Founded jointly with her father Lee Grant Irons, the business aims to pioneer closed ecological systems that can support human communities in inhospitable settings, both on our own planet and others. The company aims to target a wide variety of customers including space agencies and companies, commercial farmers, Earth analog research groups, and local communities and governments.
"Our vision is a business that not only serves to help human expansion into space, but helps humans on Earth as well," Irons told me over the phone. "We commonly say that the company is making food available in space by solving food security on Earth."
"It's the environmentalist side of me," she adds. "I can't simply abandon one place and go to another. I need to help everything."