Tito is eyeing a January 2018 launch window for his historical mission to Mars, as Earth and Mars won't be in the same kind of alignment again until 2031. (Photo : Reuters)
We may still have a long way to go before a human walks on Mars, but if one millionaire's plan for a mission to the Red Planet in 2018 pans out, everyone from tourists to astronauts could be visiting much sooner than expected.
Millionaire Dennis Tito is leading an effort by the nonprofit Inspiration Mars Foundation to charter a private 501-day "roundtrip" mission to Mars, and will conduct a news conference Feb. 27 to formally announce his ambitious plans, according to Space Ref.
"This 'Mission for America' will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration," wrote Inspiration Mars officials in a statement, according to Space.com. "It is intended to encourage all Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring youth through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and motivation."
Tito is expected to present his plans for the mission in when he presents a paper March 3 at an aerospace conference in Montana titled, "Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free Return Mission in 2018," Space.com reported.
The paper reportedly examines the viability of "a crewed free-return Mars mission that would fly by Mars, but not go into orbit around the planet or land on it. This 501-day mission would launch in January 2018, using a modified SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket," according to the NewSpace Journal.
Tito's mission will reportedly be privately financed, and he claims the entire project will cost less than estimates others have made for separate manned Mars missions in the past. The official cost of the project has yet to be released.
While the mission to the Red Planet is certainly technologically groundbreaking, that doesn't mean the astronauts will be traveling in style. The craft the team plans to use will transport a team of two in "Spartan conditions."
"Crew comfort is limited to survival needs only. For example, sponge baths are acceptable, with no need for showers," the paper reads, according to The Space Reporter.
While Tito isn't a professional scientist or astronaut, he already has plenty of experience to prepare him for the long journey to Mars. Tito was Earth's first space tourist; he traveled aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz to the International Space Station in 2001 for a cool $20 million, according to The Space Reporter.
Tito is eyeing a January 2018 launch window for his historical mission to Mars, as Earth and Mars won't be in the same kind of alignment again until 2031, according to DVICE.