By Chris Gill
February 28, 2013
So how many of you have ever dreamed of seeing Mars up close? Well a chance to do so may be nearer in your future than you might think. According to CNN, a nonprofit organization founded by Dennis Tito called Inspiration Mars Foundation is planning a trip by 2018.
The mission would be a 501-day trip to Mars; however, it will not be landing, but flying within 100 miles of the red planet. Not having to land simplifies some of the logistics of the mission and also makes things much cheaper for the foundation.
This whole mission is apart from NASA and is a public-private initiative. The mission will use an existing rocket and capsule.
Even with a simplified flight plan, there are many issues that still need to be addressed before the flight. One of the major points is the current heat shielding technology hasn’t been tested for a high-speed reentry, and the earliest that even NASA is looking to test it is next year, if not later. The other crucial point is the life support system. The astronauts selected for this mission will have to survive on recycled water and air for the entire trip.
The foundation is planning on selecting a man and a woman, preferably a married couple, to make the historic journey. Now, before you get your hopes up, you should know they are looking for a couple of a more advanced age, “out of the childbearing years,” said Taber MacCallum (CEO of Paragon Space Development Corp). The reason for this is due to the possible radiation exposure on the mission.
MacCallum believes that mission could be achieved for less than one billion dollars and that “this is a philanthropic effort to be done for America.” The group is looking into selling the media right and finding-sponsorship as well as other fund-raising efforts.
The mission’s goals are to inspire a new generation of space explorers just as the first men on the moon did for previous ones.
As Tito says, “This is a challenging but attainable goal for advancing human…knowledge. Now is the time.”