CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla – Dennis Tito recently announced plans to launch a 501-day manned mission to Mars which would conduct a flyby of the planet – but would not land. Reports stated that Space Exploration Technologies would participate in the mission utilizing SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The only problem with these reports is that SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell has publicly stated they are false.
“As far as the Dennis Tito flight, I think his plan is very ambitious, we have been rumored to be in partnership with him, which we are not. But we are a launch service provider and if he can come up with the funding to execute this mission we’d be happy to have him as a customer,” Shotwell said during the Commercial Resupply Services 2 mission briefing held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Inspiration Mars is a nonprofit organization and its announcement that it hopes to send a two person crew, preferably a married couple, around the Red Planet as early as 2018 created a lot of interest within the space community when announced on Feb. 27.
Under the plan, launch would occur in January of 2018, the flyby of Mars would take place that August and the duo of space adventurers would return safely home the following May.
Much like The Golden Spike Company’s announcement to begin sending crews to the surface of the Moon, this one involves a number of different studies, one of which involves a modified Dragon spacecraft atop the yet-to-be flown Falcon Heavy booster. To date, SpaceX’s Dragon has not launched any crew whatsoever.
Also like Golden Spike, Inspiration Mars is working to generate the required funds to accomplish such a lofty objective. According to Space Today, these include donations, media rights and sponsorships.
Tito gained international notoriety for becoming the first space tourist when he flew to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He paid $20 million for the privilege and spent a week on board the orbiting laboratory.