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He wanted to use NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) and get some federal aid, too

An ambitious billionaire was hoping to take a trip to Mars with some help from the feds, but it looks like happiness isn't the only thing money can't buy. 

Billionaire Dennis Tito is no stranger to space. In 2001, he became the first space tourist who paid a nice sum to get to the International Space Station (ISS). His latest request was a little more complex, though.  

Tito stood before the House Science Subcommittee on Space during a Wednesday hearing to lay out his mission to Mars. Tito calls it his nonprofit Inspiration Mars Foundation.

The plan calls for use of NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS), which will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center with a four-part payload to place cargo into Earth's orbit. The four parts include an SLS upper-stage rocket to move the spacecraft from Earth's orbit to Mars; a service module containing electrical power, propulsion and communication systems; a Cygnus-derived habitat module where the astronauts will live for 501 days, and an Earth Reentry Pod derived from Orion.

The second launch will take the crew into orbit aboard a commercial transportation vehicle, and then the crew and Inspiration Mars vehicle stack will travel in orbit using docking procedures. 


Tito during his ISS trip in 2001 [SOURCE: cloudfront.net]

From there, the SLS upper-stage rocket then launches the spacecraft toward Mars for a 501-day round-trip. This covers approximately 808 million miles.

Oh, and there's a couple of other minor details Tito threw in: Inspiration Mars will need to launch in late 2017 due to a rare alignment of the planets that would cut the trip's travel time (2021 is another option, but he's pushing for 2017), and Tito wants the federal government to pay for part of the bill. 

So what was the subcommittee's response? You can read the whole statement from NASA spokesman David Weaver here, but the basis of the rejection is this:

"Inspiration Mars' proposed schedule is a significant challenge due to life support systems, space radiation response, habitats, and the human psychology of being in a small spacecraft for over 500 days. The agency is willing to share technical and programmatic expertise with Inspiration Mars, but is unable to commit to sharing expenses with them."

NASA is currently working on a manned mission to Mars in a couple decades. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has said that the schedule is to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030

Source: Space Ref





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