For Mars Fly-By, Married Couples Are Encouraged To Apply

One reason, says the founder of the Inspiration Mars Foundation, is that participants are "going to need someone [they] can hug" given the length of the mission.

What's the Latest Development?

Dennis Tito, who in 2001 paid a reported $20 million to become the first-ever private space tourist, announced today that his Inspiration Mars Foundation is launching an ambitious project to send two people -- a man and a woman, preferably married to each other -- on a Mars fly-by in 2018. Unlike other private space missions currently being developed, this one is philanthropic in nature, and is designed to inspire people as well as test technologies that could be used for a Mars landing in the future. Tito will fund the first two years of development himself, and will seek private donations for the remaining portion.

What's the Big Idea?

The mission will take advantage of an unusual planetary alignment that will bring Earth and Mars close enough to allow for a relatively easy and quick 501-day round trip. For such a lengthy voyage, Tito says a married couple would be ideal: "When you're out that far and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you're going to need someone you can hug...What better solution to the psychological problems you're going to encounter with that isolation?"

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