New insights on that private (crewed?) Mars mission

Last night I wrote here about news of a proposed private Mars mission slated to be announced on February 27th, involving Dennis Tito and others. I was skeptical last night that this would be, as some have reported, a human mission, given the technical and financial challenges involved. That original speculation, though, might be wrong.

The IEEE Aerospace Conference is taking place next month in Big Sky, Montana. If you look closely at the conference schedule on Sunday, March 3, you’ll see this session at 9:50 pm (!): “8.0105 Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free Return Mission in 2018″. The speaker listed is none other than Dennis Tito, with several co-authors: John Carrico, Grant Anderson, Michael Loucks, Taber MacCallum, Thomas Squire, Jonathan Clark. MacCallum and Clark are slated to join Tito at the February 27th Inspiration Mars Foundation press conference in Washington.

This publication obtained a copy of the paper Tito et al. plan to present at the conference, discussing a crewed free-return Mars mission that would fly by Mars, but not go into orbit around the planet or land on it. This 501-day mission would launch in January 2018, using a modified SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket. According to the paper, existing environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) technologies would allow such a spacecraft to support two people for the mission, although in Spartan condition. “Crew comfort is limited to survival needs only. For example, sponge baths are acceptable, with no need for showers,” the paper states.

NASA would also have a role in this mission in terms of supporting key ECLSS and thermal protection system technology development, although the paper makes clear this would be a private-sector effort. (The paper’s co-authors include NASA Ames director Pete Worden.) The paper makes no attempt to estimate the cost of the mission, beyond concluding that it “would be significantly less than previous estimates for manned Mars missions” and be financed privately. The paper adds that if they miss this favorable 2018 opportunity, the next chance to take advantage of this favorable trajectory would be in 2031.

80 comments to New insights on that private (crewed?) Mars mission

  • Josef

    I had a funny idea: It would be unbelievable if during the voyage a baby is beget and born. It would make the long trip “diverting”…

    • Aresia

      Indeed. One wonders whether that’s somewhere lurking in Tito’s mind…but from the current state of knowledge on conception in space, I wouldn’t recommend an attempt before maybe the last 24 hours of the voyage. :)

  • Aresia

    If you were sceptical that was because you had been brainwashed by decades of “No Can Do” propaganda from NASA (should be renamed NADA). Yep they were the ones who told us it would take $40 billion minimum to reach Mars.

  • A little snippet…

    During SpaceX’s President Gwynne Shotwell’s pre-flight briefing for today’s Falcon 9 launch of a Dragon freighter to the International Space Station.

    Additional information of note emerged

    SpaceX is not partnered with Inspiration Mars for a human trip to the Red Planet, but if Dennis Tito gets the money he needs, “I’d be happy to have him as a customer.”

    … We all thought as much.

  • pioneer10

    I wish Tito would consider a Venus flyby instead- it could be done anytime Venus and Mars align (every two years or so)-the return trajectory swings within 10 million miles of Mars orbit allowing a good view of it if the mission is timed accordingly. The mission time is the best part-it would only be 360-400 days long, reducing both risk and expense of the trip.

  • [...] rocket — that is currently in development — should fit the bill quite nicely. According to a NewSpace Journal report based on an Inspiration Mars paper detailing the proposed mission, a modified SpaceX Dragon capsule [...]

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