The Associated Press reports Dennis Tito, a man who funded his own trip into space in 2001, wants to send other people there.
He’s going to pour cash into a nonprofit called Inspiration Mars, which is planning a budget trip around the red planet in 2018. NASA isn’t involved; it’s a completely privately planned operation. But the government space agency has said the nonprofit’s experiment is audacious and they may be interested in collaborating.
The trip will take 16 months and will cram a married couple in close quarters – a space half the size of an RV – taking a path that comes within 100 miles of Mars.
The group wouldn’t estimate the cost, but other experts suggest the trip could cost a billion dollars. They probably have a lot more planning to do. An expert formerly from NASA, Scott Hubbard, said the information presented so far doesn’t seem to have a lot of technical detail.
The participants haven’t been picked yet, but Inspiration Mars wants a married couple to go, for emotional support and for symbolism. They won’t be landing on the surface or getting out at any point during the trip, since they won’t have spacesuits. Food and water will be very limited, with urine being recycled into drinking water because of the space limitations. Sounds romantic.
If all goes according to plan, the couple will leave on Jan. 5, 2018 and return to Earth on May 21, 2019.