Millionaire Dennis Tito, 72, became the first private citizen to fly into space in 2001. Now the entrepreneur, who made is fortune as the founder of California-based investment firm Wilshire Associates, is reportedly planning to send two astronauts to Mars in 2018, according to NBC News’ Alan Boyle.
According to a press release, The Inspiration Mars Foundation, a non-profit organisation led by Tito, will “launch an [sic] historic journey to Mars and back in 501 days, starting in January 2018.”
There are few details otherwise on the mission right now, but Tito is holding a press conference next week. Presumably, we’ll get more information on his plan then.
Until then, the NewSpace Journal obtained a copy of a paper that Tito plans to present at the IEEE Aerospace Conference on March 3, which offers more specifics. Here’s what we know based on NewSpace’s report:
- The mission would be manned
- A crew would fly by Mars, but not actually land on the surface or orbit around it
- It would launch in January 2018, possibly using a modified SpaceX Dragon spacecraft
- There are no details about cost
The plan seems pretty flimsy right now. But then again, it’s not the first time in the last few years that someone has proposed a mission to Mars.
Last June, a company called Mars One, founded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, announced it was planning a one-way trip to the Red Planet in 2023.
NASA also has ambitions to send astronauts to Mars by 2035. Their Curiosity rover is currently up there exploring the dusty planet, beaming back tons of information every day — like how much radiation hits the planet’s surface — that scientists hope will aid in a future manned trip.
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