US millionaire tycoon Dennis Tito, who in 2001 became the first space tourist, has launched an ambitious project to send two civilians on a historic 501 days return journey to the Red Planet in January 2018.
Tito has unveiled the plan to launch the first manned mission to Mars in 2018, a voyage that could include an adventurous married crew, SPACE.com reported.
The project, announced on Wednesday, aims not to land people on the surface, but to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment that would allow a relatively easy, quick flyby around the Mars.
Tito hopes to choose a space capsule and rocket from among those already on the market, and modify them to carry two people.
And to combat the loneliness and isolation that would doubtless set in during such a mission, Tito is proposing something that has never been tried before: sending one male and one female , preferably married.
"When you're out that far and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you're going to need someone you can hug," Tito said. "What better solution to the psychological problems you're going to encounter with that isolation?" Though Tito admits the plan faces challenges, he says it's doable.
"I've seen others come out with fantasy missions that in no way will actually occur. I didn't want to fall into that," he said.
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