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MIT PhD Candidate Develops Technologies to Enable Humans to Live on Mars

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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George Lordos, an MIT Ph.D. candidate in Aeronautics and Astronautics, has planned to work on technologies to enable humans to live on Mars. Lordos graduated from Oxford University with a degree in economics and possessed an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

He returned to school once more to study aeronautics and astronautics at MIT because of his lifelong fascination for space, especially the idea of creating a viable society on Mars.

Since high school, Lordos has been fascinated by space, especially the prospect of residing on Mars. He organized a trip to observe Halley’s Comet as the head of the astronomy club at his high school, bringing more than 100 students. The excursion, however, did not proceed as expected because there was no chance of seeing the comet due to the overcast weather.

Lordos attended Christ Church College at Oxford University and obtained a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics after considering studying engineering or economics. He values the perspective his education gave him.

In 2015, Lordos started giving a PhD in philosophy some serious thought after seeing SpaceX’s reusable rockets.

One of his Sloan economics instructors urged him to apply to the System Design and Management (SDM) program, intended for mid-career professionals, even though he had missed the deadline for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.

Beyond Lordos Doctoral Research

Lordos enjoys prototyping, which he pursues through a number of NASA contests, such as the Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge and the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts (RASC-AL). A tall, lightweight lunar tower and an ice mining device for effective water retrieval on Mars were among the designs produced by teams under his leadership or guidance that had won 11 NASA awards during the last five years.

Lordos established MIT’s Space Resources Workshop to assist his teams. He now serves as lab director there with guidance from Olivier de Weck, the Apollo Program Professor and professor of astronautics and engineering systems, and Jeffrey Hoffman, a professor of practice and former astronaut. Three teams totaling more than 40 people, including 10 participants from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), are now housed in the workshop.

Lordos’s Awards So Far

At NASA RASC-AL In June, a team that Lordos coached took home the top prize overall for developing vehicles that can reliably create, store, and deliver rocket propellant on Mars. He is leading a finalist team developing WORMS, a field-reconfigurable robot designed to navigate rough lunar terrain, for the upcoming BIG Idea Challenge in November (short for Walking Oligomeric Robotic Mobility System).

Lordos and his colleagues have also received honors from the Mars Society and the AeroAstro department in addition to the NASA competitions. For instance, in the 2019 Mars Colony Design Prize competition, his team’s concept for a sustainable metropolis on Mars, Star City, took first place.


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