New nonprofit foundation to move U.S. farther and faster toward its destiny as world leader in technical innovation, science, exploration and discovery
Full Press Conference:
Press Release from Inspiration Mars:
A unique window of opportunity for humankind will open in January 2018, and the Inspiration Mars Foundation intends to seize it, announcing plans today to pursue a challenging manned mission to Mars and back. This historic 501-day journey around the Red Planet is made possible by a rare planetary alignment that occurs five years from now. Two professional crew members – one man, one woman – flying as private citizens will embark on what is known as a “fast, free-return” mission, passing within 100 miles of Mars before swinging back and safely returning to Earth. Target launch date is Jan. 5, 2018.
Officials with the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a new nonprofit organization founded by private space traveler Dennis Tito, announced their plans to pursue the audacious to provide a platform for unprecedented science, engineering and education opportunities, while reaching out to American youth to expand their visions of their own futures in space exploration.
“When nations boldly follow opportunities, rooted in curiosity and guided by technological innovation, they grow, prosper, learn and lead. And this is what makes a nation great,” said Tito, chairman of the Inspiration Mars Foundation.
“Human exploration of space is a critical catalyst for our future growth and prosperity,” he added. “This is ‘A Mission for America’ that will generate knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. It will encourage and embolden all Americans to believe, again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue their destiny through STEM education.”
The mission will be built around proven, existing space transportation systems and technologies derived from industry, NASA and the International Space Station that can be available in time to support the launch date.
“Investments in human space exploration technologies and operations by NASA and the space industry are converging at the right time to make this mission achievable,” said Taber MacCallum, chief technology officer for Inspiration Mars. MacCallum is also CEO/C TO of Paragon Space Development Corporation, and was a member of the Biosphere 2 Design, Development, Test & Operations team, and a crew member in the first two-year mission.
The mission system will consist of a modified capsule launched out of Earth orbit using a single propulsive maneuver to achieve the Mars trajectory. An inflatable habitat module will be deployed after launch and detached prior to re-entry. Closed-loop life support and operational components will be located inside the vehicle, designed for simplicity and “hands-on” maintenance and repair.
The Inspiration Mars proposal is at a minimum both an audacious and auspicious invitation into a game of intellectual and engineering “stone soup”. We are coming to know all too well that the challenges that would face a crewed mission to Mars are myriad and manifold. The Inspiration Mars proposal dares us to suspend disbelief and engage in the question of given a commitment to a Mars fly-by mission — What would it take to make it possible? What would it take to make it safe? What would it take to actually make it happen? Mr. Tito is be commended for both daring to ask the questions and lending his efforts/resources to breath life into such a mission.
The original proposal for a privately funded Inspiration Mars flyby in 2018 has been abandoned. Tito now advocates for a government-funded Mars flyby with Venus gravity assist in 2021. In my personal opinion, what was good in the original proposal has been completely lost and the alternative proposal should not be supported.