Dennis Tito announces crewed Mars flyby – requires technical advances

February 28, 2013 by Chris Bergin

Millionaire Dennis Tito has announced plans to send a human couple on a 501 day flyby mission to Mars, via an optimistic schedule that will require several major advances in long duration space flight capabilities. The project will receive two years of initial funding via Tito, with an aim of launching in January, 2018.

Inspiration Mars:

The announcement on Wednesday introduced a non-profit foundation called “Inspiration Mars”, an organization that will also serve as the primary contractor for the mission, overseeing planning, training, systems development, processing and operations.

The plans are notional, not least from the hardware standpoint, with no launch vehicle or spacecraft selected.

The mission’s hardware will consist of a modified capsule launched out of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) using a single propulsive maneuver to achieve the Mars trajectory, heading for a 100 mile altitude flyby of the Red Planet. An inflatable habitat module will be deployed after launch and detached prior to re-entry.

Inspiration Mars’ overview notes the flyby architecture lowers risk, with no critical propulsive maneuvers after leaving Earth vicinity, no entry into the Mars atmosphere, no rendezvous and docking, and represents the shortest duration round trip mission to Mars.

The January 5, 2018 launch opportunity also coincides with the 11-year solar minimum providing the lowest solar radiation exposure. The next optimal opportunity will be in 2031.

Mr Tito is no stranger to space flight, even becoming the first space tourist, following his six day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) back in 2001, launching and landing via the Russian Soyuz. As such, he will be aware of the ISS’ continuing advances in key space technologies, such as life support.

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