First-ever space tourist plans Mars mission
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The world's first space tourist, US multimillionaire Dennis Tito, unveiled plans Wednesday to send a manned mission to Mars and back, targeting a launch date less than five years away.
The two space travelers wouldn't land on the Red Planet - or even enter its orbit - just fly through the vicinity and back, a trajectory Tito said would take 501 days, thanks to a rare planetary alignment.
The US space agency has aimed for the 2030s in its vague projections for a manned mission to Mars, and is focusing in the shorter term on sending robots, like the Curiosity rover that landed with much fanfare last summer.
Tito's non-profit Inspiration Mars, by contrast, is starting essentially from scratch, with neither a vehicle nor a clear source of funding.