|[February 27, 2013]
"Inspiration Mars" to Pursue Human Mission to the Red Planet in 2018
WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--
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 (News - Alert) 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
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
"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/CTO 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
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 inlatable 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.
Foundation officials are in talks with several U.S. commercial aerospace
companies about prospective launch and crew vehicles and systems.
"Mars presents a challenging, but attainable goal for advancing human
space exploration and knowledge, and as a result, we are committed to
undertaking this mission," MacCallum said. "Experts have reviewed the
risks, rewards and aggressive schedule, finding that existing
technologies and systems only need to be properly integrated, tested and
prepared for flight."
Tito explained that the "beauty of this mission is its simplicity." The
flyby architecture lowers risk, with no critical propulsive maneuvers
after leaving Earth vicinity, no entry into the Mars atmosphere, no
rendezvous and docking, and represents the shortest duration roundtrip
mission to Mars. The 2018 launch opportunity also coincides with the
11-year solar minimum providing the lowest solar radiation exposure.
The foundation serves as the primary contractor for the mission,
overseeing planning, training, systems development, processing and
operations. Several companies and individuals recognized for their
excellence in various aspects of human spaceflight will manage key
program elements. Subcontractors include Applied Defense Solutions,
Paragon Space Development Corp. (Paragon), and Dr. Jonathan Clark with
the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. In
addition, we have formed a partnership with NASA via a reimbursable
Space Act Agreement between Paragon and the Ames Research Center (Ames).
"With the support of NASA and an evolving team of industry partners, we
intend to do everything possible to take advantage of this unique
opportunity for America," Tito said. "We are engaging the best minds in
industry, government and academia to develop and integrate the space
flight systems and to design innovative research, education and outreach
programs for the mission. This low-cost, collaborative, philanthropic
approach to tackling this dynamic challenge will showcase U.S.
innovation at its best and benefit all Americans in a variety of ways."
Those benefits include cutting-edge research and potential discoveries.
The mission validates decades of taxpayer investment in NASA technology,
and strengthens the nation's position as a leader in exploration. It
also serves as a vehicle for inspiring youth through science,
technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and motivation. The
foundation is already collaborating with nationally prominent educators,
organizations and space experts to design a compelling educational K-12
The Space Act Agreement between Paragon and Ames is to conduct thermal
protection system and technology testing and evaluation. Foundation
officials will also seek to tap into NASA's knowledge, experience and
technologies to fine-tune and/or develop some of the more challenging
elements of this mission, including environmental controls, radiation
protection, and human health and productivity plans.
Tito said the Inspiration Mars mission aligns perfectly with emerging
U.S. space priorities and programs, and will contribute valuable
research to accelerate next-generation systems and their missions.
"The mission will help create public awareness, enthusiasm and momentum
for a long-term commitment and vision for space exploration beyond
low-Earth orbit … all the way to Mars," Tito said. "Clearly, there are
risks associated with the mission, as is true of every space exploration
mission. But these are exactly the kinds of risks that America should be
willing to take in order to advance our knowledge, experience and
position as a world leader. We believe the risks and challenges we have
identified are well within the scope of our collective experience and
can be overcome to achieve a safe and successful mission."
The Inspiration Mars mission stems from a year-long effort to develop a
series of similar fast, free-return trips to the Moon and back. After
this fortuitous alignment of planets in 2018, the opportunity will not
present itself again until 2031.
Inspiration Mars will be funded primarily through private, charitable
donations. The foundation will also seek out government partners that
can provide unique expertise, access to infrastructure and other
technical assistance as part of a public-private partnership.
For more information, visit www.InspirationMars.org.
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