In January 2018, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will roar off a launch pad carrying the most ambitious human space mission since Apollo 11 nearly 50 years earlier. Two crew members in a heavily modified Dragon spacecraft would break Earth orbit on a 501-day round-trip fly-by of Mars.
This privately-led mission will be unveiled next Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a non-profit group chaired by former NASA engineer and space tourist Dennis Tito.
“This ‘Mission for America’ will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration,” the group said in a media advisory. “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.”
Other participants in the press conference include:
- Miles O’Brien, moderator
- 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.
The media advisory doesn’t mentions any details of the proposed mission. However, Jeff Foust over at NewSpace Journal reports that Tito will present a paper titled, “Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free Return Mission in 2018,” on March 3 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Aerospace Conference in Big Sky, Montana.
Foust reports the describes a two-person mission to the Red Planet using a modified SpaceX Dragon without a landing on the planet. Conditions aboard the spacecraft are described as being Spartan.
Tito’s co-authors include MacCallum, Clark, John Carrico, Grant Anderson, Michel Loucks, and Thomas Squire. Anderson is a co-founder of Paragon Space Development Corporation, which specializes in environmental control and life support systems.