A rich space tourist who earlier payed $20 million to visit the International Space Station, is now working to promote an even more ambitious project – a manned flyby around the planet Mars in 2018. Much like the Apollo 10 mission which proceeded the famous Apollo landing, this mission would be only intended to make a quick flyby of the red planet, in fact only spending about 10 hours at its closest point 100,000km above the planets surface.
Dennis Tito is the ambitious man behind the project, although he’s not actually planning to go this time. Instead the group he founded, Inspiration Mars, is looking for an older couple to make the long 501 day flight:
“The plan was to choose a middle-aged couple because their health and fertility would be less affected by the radiation they would be exposed to during such a long space mission,” the BBC reports.
The trip is being planned using existing technology or that which is easily within reach. According to a recent document from Inspiration Mars, a panel of scientists including many from NASA are saying the mission is possible. SPACE.com recently interviewed Tito asking him about the scientific value of the manned mission, especially if the crew isn’t landing on the planet:
“At first, I thought this is not a science mission,” said Tito. “This is for inspiration; it’s a test flight to show we can get there. You’re going to learn a lot about the engineering problems.
But then as I started learning more about the life sciences, apparently [the benefits] are huge. There hasn’t been really any information on human behavior in this kind of environment. The impact of radiation, the isolation — the academics are all very excited. It’d be a huge scientific value in the life sciences.
Here we bring you Space.com’s infographic detailing the the challenging mission’s route to Mars and the technology it plans to use to get there. Regardless of how long it takes to arrive there, or how brief the encounter with the distant planet, it would certainly open new frontiers of the distant space travel we’ve long dreamed of.