Inspiration Mars Foundation, a new mysterious non-profit organization, is to hold a press conference this week to announce a round trip to the planet Mars. The mission, which the foundation has called “Mission for America,” will launch on the year 2018 of January. In 501 days, they will be going to the Red Planet and back. With the Mars rover Curiosity already expecting in the year 2020 a robotic companion, could humans make it there first?
The mission will be funded by Dennis Tito, a space and tourism pioneer, who was also the first private tourist in space back in the year 2001. Dennis Tito also has worked back in the 1960’s on Mars missions for NASA.
“It is intended to encourage all Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring youth through science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and motivation. The Inspiration Mars Foundation is committed to accelerating America’s human exploration of space as a critical catalyst for future growth, national prosperity, new knowledge and global leadership,” the announcement for the upcoming conference on the mission reads.
To take maximum advantage of the alignment of planet Mars and Earth, which happens roughly every two years and two months, the mission was to be taken in 2018. An upcoming alignment will also occur in the month of November of this year and will be followed by another one early in the year 2016. The planets’ orbits alignments are situated so a spacecraft departing the planet Earth would require less energy to hit the three hundred mile odyssey to the Red Planet. It took two hundred fifty days (November 26, 2011 to August 6 2012) for the Mars rover Curiosity to cover up 352 million miles.
Over at the Cosmic Log of NBC, Alan Bolye dug up a bit of information from a forthcoming presentation by Dennis Tito at the IEEE Aerospace Conference next month of March. The plan is said to be for two astronauts to be riding in a modified capsule named SpaceX Dragon which will pass the planet Mars and will come right directly back by using the planets’ alignment for a free trajectory home. So no landing appears in the plan, according to Alan Boyle. It is not much of a surprise since swinging around the orbit of Mars is a lot safer and cheaper and technically simpler. The landing of the Curiosity, which was about the size of a regular car, to the surface of Mars was a tremendous technical feat but does not even approach the idea of safe delivery and retrieval of human visitors yet.
Russian Roscosmos agency and Space Agency has conducted a test to see if living in closed quarters for almost a year and a half would be possible albeit the gravity of the Earth. The Mars500 experiment has shown that it is possible to stay in closed quarters for a few individuals only so the journey there and back will actually be executable. Astronauts will be protected from major and unaddressed obstacles and challenges such as cosmic and solar radiation by constructing a spaceship and rocket that will get them safely to and from the planet Mars.
Full details will be announced at a press conference on February 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
We expect several more details at the announcement next week–stay tuned.