The Inspiration Mars Foundation, founded by millionaire rocket scientist Dennis Tito, plans a manned Mars fly by mission in 2018.
The proposed mission to the red planet will be comprised of a two-person crew – a man and a woman, preferably a married couple who can cope with the close confinement of the long trip. The craft will run a fly by of the Martian surface, coming as close as 100 miles, then will return to safely to Earth.
The mission’s target launch date is January 5, 2018 and will take 501 days round trip. The launch date takes advantage of a planetary alignment in which Mars is in it’s closest approach to Earth. This alignment will not present itself again until 2031.
The mission’s cost is expected to be 1.5 to 2 billion dollars. The first two years are funded by Dennis Tito himself. The rest of the funding is expected to come from corporate sponsorship, donations, and the sale of media rights regarding the mission.