An artist’s concept of a proposed Mars flyby spacecraft equipped with an inflatable habitat module.
(Credit: Inspiration Mars)
A wealthy space tourist announced plans today to launch a high-risk manned flight to Mars in 2018, sending a man and a woman on a bare-bones 501-day round-trip flyby, passing just 100 miles above the Red Planet before heading back to Earth.
Dennis Tito, the first private citizen to fly aboard the International Space Station, said he will provide two years of funding to support the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a nonprofit he started to execute the proposed venture. Additional money will be raised from private sources.
“We have 50 years of experience,” he told reporters during a news conference. “We can do things a lot faster, we just need a commitment. I’m not worried about getting this done from that standpoint. The vehicles are there, we have time to get it together.”
In a statement, Tito said his organization is “engaging the best minds in industry, government, and academia to develop and integrate the space flight systems and to design innovative research, education, and outreach programs for the mission.”
“This low-cost, collaborative, philanthropic approach to tackling this dynamic challenge will showcase U.S. innovation at its best and benefit all Americans in a variety of ways.”
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Mars, the Red Planet, is actually pretty drab underneath