Clock Ticking for 2018 Private Manned Mars Mission
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer | November 21, 2013 06:00am ET
A private manned Mars mission won’t get off the ground as planned in January 2018 unless it secures the support of the federal government within the next few months, officials say.
The nonprofit Inspiration Mars Foundation aims to partner with NASA to send two astronauts on a flyby mission to the Red Planet in 2018. Inspiration Mars has little chance of making this launch date unless it receives assurances very soon from Congress and the White House that the mission will be a NASA priority, officials said.
“We have a just a couple of months to get some signals that would indicate that there’s serious interest developing,” Inspiration Mars founder Dennis Tito, who became the world’s first space tourist when he paid his own way to the International Space Station in 2001, told reporters during a teleconference Wednesday (Nov. 20). “So, not much time.” [Private Mission to Mars Explained (Infographic)]
Inspiration Mars’ “Mission for America” would launch a married couple on a 501-day flyby mission to the Red Planet in January 2018. The astronauts would not land on Mars, but would streak within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of its surface before beginning the long trek back to Earth.
The mission would lay the foundation for even more ambitious exploration efforts in the future and help cement the United States’ status as a global leader in science and technology by inspiring the next generation of researchers and engineers, Inspiration Mars officials say.
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