Impact of air base reaches Mars

The sprawling Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township has long served as a valuable asset to the Mahoning Valley with its $120 million annual impact on the local economy. It also has served as a critical cog in the interests of military defense, national protection and cutting-edge research.

Members of its 910th Airlift Wing have won honors for playing skillful roles in the nation’s War on Terror, for responding to national disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and for assisting in such humanitarian missions as providing medical care to 10,000 residents of the Dominican Republic.

Now the impact of YARS is about to extend much farther – deep into outer space.

Specifically, U.S. Air Force Reserve Capt. Casey Stedman, a navigator with the 773rd Airlift Squadron at YARS, will spend the next four months in a simulated Martian environment inside a 993-square-foot geodesic dome on the slope of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Inside the tight quarters Stedman and his crew members will test the social, interpersonal and cognitive factors that affect astronaut-team performance over time in such a confined space . Outside the dome, they will simulate Mars surface expeditions, test spacesuits and other tools designed as prototypes for future NASA missions to the Red Planet.

We congratulate Stedman for winning the honor of commanding the mission after excelling in a rigorous selection process that included physical and mental tests akin to those required of astronaut candidates.

We also wish him well as he proudly represents YARS and reinforces the image of the Valley’s air base as a significant force in our military defense and our vital national interests.

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