Wanted: a married couple able to coexist peacefully for 501 days cramped inside a tiny space capsule hurtling around Mars on a potentially deadly mission.
Listening to Dennis Tito, that might be the most difficult part about his planned trip to Mars in 2018.
At a press conference today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Tito and his partners revealed details about “Mission for America” and a possible fly-by of the red planet in five years time.
"When nations boldly follow opportunities, rooted in curiosity and guided by technological innovation, they grow, prosper, learn and lead. And this is what makes a nation great,” Tito, chairman of the Inspiration Mars Foundation, said in a news release.
“Human exploration of space is a critical catalyst for our future growth and prosperity,” he added. “This is ‘A Mission for America’ that will generate knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration."
He hopes to depart Jan. 5, 2018 for a trip around Mars and back to Earth. The to-be selected astronauts — preferably a married couple to help endure the cramped quarters and challenging duration — wouldn’t land but would pass within about 100 miles.
NBC News reported the couple should be "beyond child-bearing years" to avoid sexual friction.
At first blush, this doesn't appear to be a pie in the sky whim of an eccentric rich guy.
Tito has some respected space sidekicks. Alongside him are Taber MacCallum, CEO of Paragon Space Development Corporation, and Dr. Jonathan Clark, associate professor of neurology at Baylor College of Medicine.
Paragon has provided supplies to 70 spaceflight missions and has worked closely with NASA on life-support systems.
“I wouldn’t be involved if I didn’t think that there was something to it. I don’t want to pre-empt the announcement, but it’s a very in-depth study that has gone into it,” Clark told The Independent.
Clark is a six-time Space Shuttle surgeon who acted as medical director to Felix Baumgartner's world-record parachute jump with Red Bull.
Tito was the world’s first “space tourist” who founded Inspiration Mars Foundation, USA Today reported.
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The Mars orbit is closest to Earth in 2018, or about 36 million miles.
The trip could cost anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion and Tito is reportedly soliciting investors and organizing sponsorship and media deals.
“The beauty of this mission is in its simplicity,” Tito said, according to USA Today.
Tito flew to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket in 2001, CNN said.
He’s a former NASA engineer who made his fortune in finance, spending $20 million on his jaunt to the ISS.
“It’s incredibly feasible. It’s not crazy talk,” MacCallum told CNN.
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