Dennis Tito

 
TUESDAY, MARCH 05, 2013

Laying Odds on Tito’s Mars Mission

by Brian Orlotti

Dennis Tito, the engineer and multimillionaire entrepreneur who founded Wilshire Associates, an investment firm with $12.5 trillion dollars of assets currently under management, and became the world’s first space tourist when he paid his own way into orbit in 2001, has announced plans for a crewed flyby past Mars in 2018.

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Tito said he’s tired of waiting for NASA to send humans to Mars, and that he’d help finance the between $1 and $2 billion needed to complete the mission, according to the March 1st, 2013 US News and World Report article “Expert: Dennis Tito’s Mars Flyby Has ’1-in-3′ Chance of Succeeding.”

The article also quoted Mars Society president and author Robert Zubrin as stating “I give them a 1-in-3 chance, but not for the technical reasons. It’s a question of can they raise the money,” he says. “This raises the question to NASA—’How come you haven’t done this?’ NASA has had a billion dollars before.”

Tito, who acknowledged that the most difficult part of the mission will be the fundraising, will be doing so through a A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called Inspiration Mars. According to the Inspiration Mars’ initial press release:

This “Mission for America” will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. 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 and Mathematics (STEM) education and motivation.

Tito has engaged a team of individuals from NASA and various aerospace firms including NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden, former Biosphere II crew members Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, and former NASA crew surgeon Jonathan Clark.

Read more: Commercial Space: Laying Odds on Tito's Mars Mission.

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