Mars mission artist concept.
A press release issued late today indicated that a new organization, Inspiration Mars Foundation, led by the first private space traveler, Dennis Tito, would make a major announcement next Wednesday, February 27th concerning a 501 day mission to Mars.
The press release said the news conference next week would be "detailing its plans to take advantage of a unique window of opportunity to launch an historic journey to Mars and back in 501 days, starting in January 2018. This "Mission for America" will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. 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 (STEM) education and motivation."
With the stated goal of "accelerating America's human exploration of space" one can surmise that the mission is a human mission to Mars.
The other people who will take part in the news conference include:
- Taber MacCallum, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Paragon Space Development Corporation and crew member for two-year mission in Biosphere 2
- Dr. Jonathan Clark, associate professor of Neurology and Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and space medicine advisor for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute
- Jane Poynter, president and chairwoman of Paragon Space Development Corporation and crew member for two-year mission in Biosphere 2
This kind of expertise in closed ecological life support systems lends credence to a human mission to Mars.
Tito is a wealthy man, but he alone would not able to fund such an expensive mission. Details of the mission including the funding will be questions looking for answers during the news conference.
Updated: Word has leaked that the mission is a 501 day crewed free return mission. Specific details to follow at the press conference.