Organization announces plans for human Mars flyby mission
Posted: Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 7:37 AM ET (1237 GMT)
A nonprofit organization formally announced plans on Wednesday to fly a privately-funded human mission past Mars and back to Earth starting in 2018. The Inspiration Mars Foundation said it is in the early planning stages for such a mission, which would carry two people, preferably a married couple. Under the plan, the mission would launch from Earth in January 2018, fly past Mars that August, and return to Earth the following May. One mission concept involves the use of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket and a modified Dragon spacecraft, but other concepts are under study, those involved with the project said. The foundation plans to raise an unspecified amount of money to pay for the mission through donations, media rights, and sponsorships, and doesn't plan to make this a for-profit venture. The foundation is backed by Dennis Tito, the first space tourist to visit the ISS in 2001, who believes this challenges of carrying out such a mission will be an inspiration for future generations.
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