A new mission could see a male-female couple set off on a trip to Mars within the next five years.
Partially funded by multi-millionaire Dennis Tito, the Inspiration Mars mission will cost up to $2 billion and aims to send a two-person crew to Mars in what would be the first ever manned voyage to the Red Planet. Tito is using some of his own money to get things started but will be looking to raise the rest of the funds via donations and also through television and media rights. A "space act" has been signed with NASA and a number of industrial partners have come forward in the hopes of collaborating.
"I will come out a lot poorer because of this mission, but my grandchildren will come out a lot richer in terms of inspiration," said Tito. On the proposal to send a male-female couple on the trip he added - "the requirements are going to be so high. It’s going to be quite a crew-selection process."
The planned mission would last 501 days in total, sending the astronauts on a flyby of the Red Planet and straight back home again using as little fuel as possible. If it succeeds it would not only go down in history as the first manned space voyage beyond the Moon but would also teach us a great deal about the technical and psychological aspects of long-haul space travel.
"The first humans to visit Mars could be a married couple, after organisers of an ambitious manned mission to the Red Planet said that only a “tried and tested” male-female partnership could cope with the close confinement of a return trip."
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