Last night I went to a lecture by Dr Alexander Martynov and Colonel Alexander Volkov organised by [Space Connections](http://pace Connections “") on the Russian space efforts in both the Soviet and current era.

The thing that struck me was the often spoken of different  between the US/NASA technology based solution and the the Russian ‘simple first’ philosophy e.g. the cosmonaut should be able to fix it themselves with the tools to hand, a philosophy the Mir space station repeatedly showed

This can also be seen in there supposed story of the huge cost that NASA incurred designing a space pen, while the Russians just took a pencil. Though I have heard this is an urban myth as the free floating graphite from a pencil is problem in zero-g for electronics, so both sides used grease pencil.

This said the Russian proposed Mars mission (interesting I cannot seem to find any pages to link to here) they discussed is based on an electric engine, very clean (no nuclear) and state of the art, like the ESA Smart1. However, when you look deeper it is still the idea of very reliable and simple replicated system designed for the long haul. The proposed ‘Mar station’ making up to seven Earth to Mars and back trips over fifteen years period.

I have to say this all appeals to my luddite side, technology is great in its place but I do like the simple ‘pencil like’ solution if possible; the simplest thing that will do the job. Now that it a very Agile way of thinking isn’t it! if you can say such a thing over a space program.