Image: Inspiration Mars Foundation

 

Private Plan to Send Humans to Mars in 2018 Might Not Be So Crazy

BY ADAM MANN
02.27.1312:15 PM

An ambitious private manned mission to Mars aims to launch a two-person crew to fly around the Red Planet and return to Earth in 501 days, starting in January 2018.

This bold undertaking is planned by the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a non-profit company founded by millionaire and space tourist Dennis Tito that was officially unveiled on Feb. 27 after early details leaked. Though the spacecraft would not land humans on Mars or even put them in orbit, it would bring people within a few hundred kilometers of the Martian surface — roughly the same distance between the International Space Station and Earth — and represent a major milestone in human spaceflight. If successful, the mission would go down in history as the first time a private company accomplished something government agencies were unable to do in space.

The mission is extremely ambitious, well beyond anything previously accomplished by the private sector and it faces plenty of obstacles. The company has an aggressive schedule to keep if it wants to hit its 2018 mark and needs to make sure the necessary technology is developed and well-tested. Despite its deep-pocketed backer, the mission has nowhere near the funding it needs to launch and will require raising greater sums than have ever been done for a private space endeavor. Its designers also need to figure out exactly how to keep the crew healthy, both physically and psychologically, for the 501-day duration of the flight as they face dangers from radiation, bone and muscle loss, fatigue, and depression. Mission designers will have to ensure they can get the crew safely to the ground when the capsule returns to Earth at a screaming 30,000 mph.

Yet despite these hurdles, of all the bold announcements from private spaceflight companies in recent years, this one seems the most achievable.

Read more: Private Plan to Send Humans to Mars in 2018 Might Not Be So Crazy | Wired Science | Wired.com.

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