Last week we brought you preliminary information on a proposed mission to Mars that is being spearheaded by Dennis Tito, the American multi-millionaire who became the world’s first space-tourist back in 2001. At the time, Tito’s plans were a bit nebulous but he promised more information was coming soon. On Wednesday of this week, he shared more details, including the possibility of sending a husband and wife team on a flyby of the red planet.
Tito’s new non-profit organization, Inspiration Mars, was launched with the expressed purpose of mounting a manned mission to Earth’s neighbor in just five years time. Tito believes that we have a unique window of opportunity early in 2018 when the Earth and Mars will be aligned with one another, making the flight path relatively straightforward and simple. He is aiming to launch his currently unknown spacecraft on January 5 of that year on what is expected to be a 501-day journey.
To combat the loneliness that could come from a prolonged space voyage of this type, Tito is proposing that the crew consist of two members – a man and a woman. He went on to say that it would be preferable if they were a husband and wife team to prevent issues of incompatibility along the way. After all, the two people selected to go will be sharing small, cramped quarters for well over a year. It would make sense that they have a solid relationship and know each other well before they depart.While it would be easy to simply dismiss Tito’s plans as being too ambitious to succeed, he is taking an approach that may allow him to achieve his goals. Unlike other commercial space programs that are looking to turn their ventures into a profitable business, Tito says this is a one-shot deal. He plans to use technology that either already exists or is close to completion to build his rocket and spacecraft, and he plans to fund much of it with his own money. As the mission gets closer to becoming a reality, however, he expects to solicit sponsorships and other funding as well.
As noted above, this journey to Mars will just be a fly by. The spacecraft would pass within 100 miles of the planet before beginning the long journey back to Earth, although it wouldn’t enter orbit at all – nor would it touch down on the surface. The crew would still get one heck of a view as they pass by, however, becoming the first humans to visit an alien planet in the process.
That is about the extent of what we know on this project at the moment. Inspiration Mars isn’t expected to announce the process for selecting a crew for at least six months or more. But they plan to move ahead with their plans to select a rocket and space capsule that can accomplish the mission.
In the meantime, I’m looking for a girl who wouldn’t mind taking a honeymoon to Mars.
[Photo Credit: Inspiration Mars]