Tags: rocket | launch | mars | agency

Multimillionaire Mulls 501-Day Manned Mars Mission

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 12:41 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A newly formed space agency says it hopes to launch a manned rocket to the planet Mars in five years.

The ambitious plan by the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a nonprofit group funded by New York multimillionaire Dennis Tito, wants to begin the mission in January 2018.

That month, both Mars and Earth will be in the best positions in their orbits for an ideal trajectory for the space shot.

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The mission is expected to last 501 days, returning to Earth in the spring of 2019.

More details are expected to be announced at a press conference next Wednesday.

“This ‘Mission for America’ will generate new knowledge, experience, and momentum for the next great era of space exploration,” the group said in a statement.

“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 . . . mathematics, education and motivation.”

Tito, an engineer who made his millions with his investment managing company Wilshire Associates, made history in 2001 as the world’s first space tourist — shelling out $20 million of his own money for a trip aboard a Russian rocket ship to the International Space Station.

Others involved in Tito’s project include Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, who were members of the Biosphere-2 project and work for Paragon Space Development, creator of life-support systems.

Also connected to the project is Jonathan Clark, a medical researcher at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

Eric Berger, a science blogger for The Houston Chronicle, said he hopes the Tito project will work.

“To have private spaceflight eclipse what government agencies are doing with human spaceflight would truly change the game in terms of opening up space to more people, including myself,” Berger writes.

“However, with that being said, five years is a wickedly short time when it comes to designing, building, testing and flying the hardware needed to get humans to and from Mars.”

According to UniverseToday.com, which reported on the Tito project, there is another proposed mission in the works known as the Mars One project.

Mars One wants to reach the Red Planet and establish a human settlement there by 2023.

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