Space continues to beckon U.S. billionaire Dennis Tito. He was there in 2001 as the world’s first space tourist, having spent a fortune to buy a ticket to the International Space Station. Now he is planning a further expedition – to Mars. However, this time the billionaire will not fly to space himself: two volunteers – a man and a woman – are invited for this mission. For this purpose, Tito established a fund Inspiration Mars and called the project Mission for America.
The mission is scheduled to start in the period from 25 December 2017 to 5 January 2018, when the Earth and Mars will be at a minimum distance. This convergence – the so-called opposition – happens a once in 15 years.
According to the calculations, round-trip flights will take 501 days. Return to Earth is scheduled for May 2019. However, no on will land on Mars. The crew will only fly around it at a height of 160 kilometers. Tito believes that this will be a good beginning of the era of manned missions to other planets. The billionaire hopes that the U.S. government will help him with money and NASA – with technology, specifically – with the rocket SLS (Space Launch System), capable of transporting heavy loads.
According to the Tito’s plan, SLS will take a spacecraft, which will fly to Mars, and a lander, which will land on the Earth when astronauts return back, to the orbit of Earth. Astronauts will get to the spacecraft on a commercial rocket. They will go into a habitable unit of about 20 cubic meters, will switch on a booster and will start their trip to Mars.
Another American billionaire – Elon Musk, founder and CEO of aerospace company SpaceX, is also making plans for the ‘conquest’ of the red planet. He sent a ship of his own design and construction to the ISS, and the flight was successful. After that, some loads were delivered on the Musk’s ships to the orbit at the request of NASA, which, in fact, opened a new era in space exploration – a private one.
Musk says he can build ships that will fly to Mars. They will deliver the first passengers in 2023 and… leave. That is, the return to Earth is not even scheduled.
The billionaire said that he will take 80,000 immigrants to the Red Planet who will settle and will begin farming – plowing and sowing – under special domes. The analysis of the local soil, by the way, has shown that it can be fertile. It’s hard to believe, but there are already about 300,000 people who want to move to Mars!
At the same time, NASA has plans to go to the Red Planet in 2020. The agency has already selected four women and four men for the flight. Almost all of them are military.