Mars Flyby Congressional Hearing Set for Thursday

Full Committee Hearing
Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and Space Launch System?

2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515Feb 27, 2014 10:00am


Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute, George Washington University

General Lester Lyles (ret.), Independent Aerospace Consultant and former Chairman of the Committee on “Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program” established by the National Academies

Mr. Doug Cooke, Owner, Cooke Concepts and Solutions and former NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate

Dr. Sandra Magnus, Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


The Obama Administration has NASA planning to send astronauts to an asteroid that would be captured by a robotic spacecraft and brought to a location near Earth. Congress, by and large, doesn’t like this plan and has been reluctant to provide money to fund it.

Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars mission had listed 2021 as a backup date to the non-profit organization’s plan to launch two astronauts on a flyby of the Red Planet in 2018. The 2018 mission, which would last 501 days, now appears implausible now due to a failure to raise sufficient funds.

A 2021 flyby would take 88 days longer than the 2018 mission, but it would have the added bonus of a close flyby of Venus.

With NASA Not Interested, Will Tito Approach Russia, China?

Credit: Inspiration Mars
Credit: Inspiration Mars

Dennis Tito’s trail balloon for NASA to devote about $700 million to help his foundation, Inspiration Mars, send two astronauts around Mars in 2018 has landed with a thud. An official response from NASA’s Public Affairs Office included this curt dismissal:

Inspiration Mars’ proposed schedule is a significant challenge due to life support systems, space radiation response, habitats, and the human psychology of being in a small spacecraft for over 500 days. The agency is willing to share technical and programmatic expertise with Inspiration Mars, but is unable to commit to sharing expenses with them.


Vote in Our New Inspiration Mars Poll

Gingrich PollHey everyone.

We’ve got a new poll up about Inspiration Mars. We’re asking whether NASA should refocus its work on Space Launch System and Orion to support Dennis Tito’s ambitious plans to send two astronauts around the Red Planet.  NASA would need to spend about $700 million to support the mission, which would cost about $1 billion overall.

Please cast your ballot today! Remember: vote early. Vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote!

In other poll-related news, Parabolic Arc’s readers have strongly supported the idea that Newt Gingrich should be brought back from his desired trip to space. A full 55 percent of you voted that he should make a round trip to space, with 45 percent in favor of making the voyage one way.

In a political race, that would be a very strong showing of the voters’ preference for one candidate over another. In this case, it’s a tad disturbing that so many people would shoot the former House Speaker off into a deadly environment with no hope of ever returning safely to the Earth. In fact, if only five votes had gone the other way, there would have been a narrow majority in favor of leaving Gingrich out there permanently.

More evidence, in my mind, that Gingrich’s quadrennial efforts to obtain the highest office in the land are doomed to failure. Just too much baggage. Not enough to prevent him from going into space, but sufficient to deny him election to national office.

Mars Society Launches Student Design Competition for Inspiration Mars Mission

Inspiration Mars Vehicle
BOULDER, Colo. (Mars Society PR) –
Today during the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention, the Mars Society announced the launch of an international engineering competition for student teams to propose design concepts for the architecture of the Inspiration Mars mission.  The contest is open to university engineering student teams from anywhere in the world.


Paragon SDC to Develop Inflatable Space Habitat with NASA SBIR Award

paragonsdcNASA has selected Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards to develop technologies for inflatable space habitats and the regeneration of oxygen for crews on their way to the moon and Mars.

“Paragon Space Development Corp (Paragon) and Thin Red Line Aerospace proposes to explore the utilization of inflatable structures by designing a habitation module as an integrated, all-fabric inflatable structural architecture, rather than modifying rigid space structural designs with an inflatable envelope,” according to the proposal summary. “Paragon and TRLA have developed several concepts with the potential to eliminate the need for hard-material support structure within an inflated habitat.”


Inspiration Mars Webcast Set for Wednesday


Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars press conference will be webcast on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m. EST. You can sign up to view the announcement here. The multi-millionaire former NASA engineer turned investment guru is expected to announce a human Mars mission that would launch in January 2018.

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.