The first man to privately fund their trip into space now wants to be the first man on Mars. In 2001 Dennis Tito spent, a reported, $20,000,000 to the Russian Federal Space Agency to realise a lifetime dream to visit space.
Tito, an entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, plans to launch a privately-funded mission to Mars in 2018, when he will be 77. Initial reports suggest the trip should take approx. 500 days but further details should be released later this week at a press conference Tito is holding titled “The Planets are Aligning for a Once-in-a-Generation Space Journey”.
The announcement will be made on 27th February with Tito participating with Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, part of Paragon Space Development Corp who specialise in life-support systems, and Jonathan Clark who is an expert in space-medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine.
The proposed mission is said to be a crewed flight to Mars but it doesn’t plan to either orbit the planet or actually land on it, just fly by the planet (using the word “just” in the loosest possible form). The mission is planned to take 501 days and to take off in January 2018.
Back in 2011, six men emerged from steel tubes after being locked away for a year and a half to simulate a mission to Mars. The Mars500 project was held at an institute in Moscow to see how humans would fair in “space” for that long and they even carried out a fake Mars landing and “Mars-walk”.
The 6-man team consisted of three Russians, two Europeans and a Chinese man, but the conditions weren’t exactly what Tito and his team could potentially face. Although the study and results will be interesting and useful to the real Mars mission, the test subjects weren’t subjected to potentially harmful radiation exposure or weightlessness.
Earth’s atmosphere protects us from the dangerous radio particles which come from the Sun but there isn’t a shield like that on space flights. There were worries about radiation on the Apollo missions but the Mars trip is much longer and so there is an increased level of exposure to be anticipated.
Weightlessness can have a strange effect on the body and life in zero gravity can deplete muscle strength considerably as their use is near none existent. If Tito and his crew were to undertake this voyage then he would arrive back to earth a weaker man and considering his age, this could be a major concern.