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The nonprofit Inspiration Mars foundation was founded by entrepreneur and space tourist Dennis Tito, who flew to the International Space Station in 2001 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Tito said the flyby mission is aimed at inspiring the public about space exploration and accelerating humanity's quest to visit Mars by taking advantage of a rare launch opportunity that allows for a relatively brief 501-day round trip.
"The way we're going, we'll never get started," Tito said of the government's approach to manned missions to Mars Wednesday (May 8) at the Humans 2 Mars Summit in Washington, D.C. "It's time for us to take the first step." [Private Mission to Mars Explained (Infographic)]
At the summit, Tito and his Inspiration Mars colleagues laid out some of the details of their plan, which will send a married male-female couple within about 93 miles (150 kilometers) of the Martian surface. The team hasn't yet chosen a launch vehicle for the mission, but said there are three main options.
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