Married Couple Wanted for Private Mars Voyage in 2018

A new nonprofit led by the world’s first space tourist is mounting an ambitious plan to launch the first manned mission to Mars in 2018, a voyage that could include an adventurous married crew.

The project, led by American millionaire Dennis Tito — who paid his own way to space in 2001 — aims not to land people on the surface of the Red Planet, but to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment that would allow a relatively easy, quick flyby of Mars.

Tito announced the private Mars voyage plan today at the National Press Club, where he held a press conference to launch his new organization, the Inspiration Mars Foundation, to back the mission.

Tito hopes to choose a space capsule and rocket from among those already on the market, and modify them to carry two people to Mars and back in 501 days.

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And to combat the loneliness and isolation that would doubtless set in during such a mission, Tito is proposing something that’s never been tried before: sending one male and one female, preferably a married couple.

“When you’re out that far and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you’re going to need someone you can hug,” Tito told SPACE.com. “What better solution to the psychological problems you’re going to encounter with that isolation?”

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