Inspiration Mars, a non-profit headed by American multi-millionaire Denis Tito, is looking for a husband-wife team for the first manned expedition to the red planet.
Tito created the organization with the express purpose of mounting mission to Mars. He believes earthlings have a window of opportunity in early 2018 when Earth and Mars will align, making the flight path relatively straight and therefore as simple as space travel can be. He aims to launch a spacecraft on January 5, 2018 for a 501-day journey.
Because of the long flight, Tito wants a man-woman team in order to combat potential loneliness. It would be best, he believes, for the duo to be married. Because the astronauts will share cramped quarters for more than a year, a solid relationship prior to the launch would help minimize the risks of incompatibility during the journey.
Although the plan may sound crazy, Tito has a few advantages over traditional or profit-oriented space programs. Tito would be funding the one-time voyage himself (although he does plan to seek sponsorship and other funding as his project becomes a reality). His organization will also stick to existing technology, rather than build anything new.
The mission would be a fly-by, with the spacecraft passing within 100 miles of the planet before traveling back to Earth. Although the craft wouldn't land on the surface or even go into Mars’ orbit, the team would become the first humans to visit an alien planet.