US millionaire Dennis Tito, who became the first private space tourist when he paid Russia $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001, wants to send a married couple on a round trip to Mars when planetary alignment is favorable for this 2018.
The trip will take advantage of the alignment of heavenly bodies in January 2018 to fly around Mars and return to Earth in the relatively short time of 501 days. This opportunity will not arise again until 2031.
The planned launch date is January 5th, 2018. It will take the couple on a flyby to within 100 miles of the Martian surface, and return them safely to Earth. Once fired into space, the capsule will swing around Mars and come back to Earth regardless of what happens to its occupants. Tito is looking for a married couple because he feels they are most likely to remain compatible in such a small space for an extended period of time.
In the February 27th edition of the Guardian, Ian Sample quotes Anu Ojha, director of the UK National Space Academy, as saying, "The science return in terms of understanding Mars will be minimal, but the science return in terms of understanding human physiology will rewrite the textbooks."
Tito plans to finance most of this journey himself. Sample quotes him as saying, "Let me be clear, I will come out a lot poorer as a result of this mission but my grandchildren will come out a lot richer for the inspiration it will give them. There is no time to lose. Now is the time."
We should have a colony on Mars right now–why are we still stuck on Earth? In 1998, a mysterious man that Whitley Strieber calls the Master of the Key burst into his hotel and told him why: he said that we’re stuck on this planet because the parents of the child who would have given us the ability to travel into space was killed in the holocaust!