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Private Mission to Mars? It could happen in 2018

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The plan has “no frills” and will only include a close fly-by of the planet

Multimillionaire Dennis Tito became in the first Space tourist in 2001 when he paid Russia $20 million to send him to the International Space Station for a week. Now, he wants to fund the first manned mission to Mars. More from Discovery News:

Tito will host a press conference on Feb. 27 detailing his “Mars-shot” plan. But what is known is that he intends to hire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, to blast a spaceship beyond low-Earth orbit. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket — that is currently in development — should fit the bill quite nicely. According to a NewSpace Journal report  based on an Inspiration Mars paper detailing the proposed mission, a modified SpaceX Dragon capsule will be the spaceship of choice.
 
Because of the short timeframe to develop the necessary technology to make this mission possible, the mission will be strictly no-frills. It will use existing tech for life support and will not make any attempt to land on the Martian surface or orbit the planet. It will simply be a fly-there, fly-by, fly-back mission. Attempting such a feat would be one for the history books, surely catapulting the hopes and dreams on Earth to the Red Planet where far grander missions will be attempted later on.
 
By Tito’s team’s reckoning, the mission will launch in the January 2018 launch window (when Earth and Mars are in a favorable positions) and last 501 days.

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