Wanted: A married couple to fly to Mars

A private space venture is seeking a married couple to take a 501-day space flight, a fly-by to Mars and back.  The couple should be past child-bearing age–since radiation levels could pose a problem to the reproductive system–and be able to function and get along in a living space half the size of an RV for more than 16 months.  The planners are looking for a married couple because of the need for strong compatibility and intimate emotional support during that 16 months flying through the void.

Any volunteers?

From Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press:

It’s a road trip that could test the best of marriages: Mars.

A tycoon announced plans Wednesday to send a middle-aged couple on a privately built spaceship to slingshot around the red planet and come back home, hopefully with their bodies and marriage in one piece after 501 days of no-escape togetherness in a cramped capsule half the size of an RV.

Under the audacious but bare-bones plan, the spacecraft would blast off less than five years from now and pass within 100 miles of the Martian surface. The cost was not disclosed, but outsiders put it at more than $1 billion.

The team of space veterans behind the project hasn’t quite figured out the technical details of the rocket they will use or the capsule the husband-and-wife astronauts will live in during the 16-month voyage. But they know it will be an adventure not for the weak of body or heart.

“This is not going to be an easy mission,” chief technical officer and potential crew member Taber MacCallum said. “We called it the Lewis and Clark trip to Mars.”

The trying circumstances include: no showers, limits on toilet paper and clothing, drinking water made from the crew members’ recycled urine and sweat, and almost no privacy. But the flight also comes with never-before-seen views of Mars. And there’s ample time for zero-gravity sex in space, something NASA doesn’t like to talk about.

As for why a man and a woman will be selected, “this is very symbolic and we really need it to represent humanity,” MacCallum said.

He said if it is a man and a woman on such a long, close-quarters voyage, it makes sense for them to be married so that they can give each other the emotional support they will probably need when they look out the window and see Earth get smaller and more distant: “If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is.”

The private, nonprofit project, called Inspiration Mars, will get initial money from NASA engineer-turned-multimillionaire investment consultant Dennis Tito, the first space tourist.

via Tycoon wants to send married couple on Mars flyby | Statesman Journal | statesmanjournal.com.

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  • Pete

    I gotta think $1billion could be put to better use. Just sayin’.

  • Stuart McKelvie

    You could narrow down the search; just look for couples whose last name is “Robinson”

  • One other qualification; must not mind dying in extreme agony due to radiation poisoning due to the solar wind.


    Other than that little factor, and all the rest, sounds like a great honeymoon!

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    If it were not for the kids, I’d say count the wife and I in.
    The whole radiation thing is why we should be constructing the space craft in orbit anyways. You can build a better craft when you don’t have to worry about lifting the craft off from the bottom of a gravity well.

  • tODD

    Okay, sure, radiation poisoning, blah blah blah, but still … You’re gonna take two-thirds of a year to fly out to Mars and not touch down?

    I realize touching down is the hard part. And, again, health risks, sure. But still. It’s like taking your first trip out of the country to go to France, only the plane just does a circle over the Eiffel Tower and then flies back home.

    “Hey, look, out the window! It’s Mars! It’s like looking at a really big TV monitor with a high-resolution image of Mars from one of our telescopes! Wow! Okay, let’s go home.”

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, Apollo 8 (Frank Bornman & co) did exactly that with the moon. It is a crucial step in the exploration process.

  • Howard

    tODD@5 and Klasie@6 — Apollo 10 more so .. flew to the moon, got in the lunar lander, dropped down to 50000 feet or so .. and then went back home without landing. In this case, the reason for omitting the landing isn’t because this trip is practice for the next trip that will land. The reason is to put a limit on the trip to keep the expense and effort reasonable. If it will cost $1B, I’d say they failed. I’d like to hear how much Tito & Co think it will cost.

  • tODD

    Klasie (@6), sure, but Apollo 8 took six days, round-trip. There has to come a point in our (theoretically expanding) exploration further and further into space where we stop doing fly-bys first. Apparently Mars is close enough to justify a fly-by, because the trip takes only a fraction of a human lifespan. Still, seems a bit of a rip-off for the people involved.

    I mean, it’s one thing if you’re a member of a regimented, quasi-military outfit like NASA. But for true civilians, I don’t know…

  • Well, obviously the reason for spending a billion bucks on the trip and not touching down is so the couple can join the fifty million mile high club and enjoy some “Tang” afterwards. Duh.

    Just before the radiation poisoning sets in. And we’d argue that a billion bucks is a bit steep for this? Come on, Bill Clinton’s favorite blue dress set us back far more than that.

  • REv. C.

    And this on the heels of the topic “Changing Vocations”!!! Sign me up, I need a change!

    Oh, I better ask my beautiful bride first…

  • Seriously, I think that the reason for the fly-by is that without the gravity of Mars spinning the craft back to earth, they’d have to launch and carry about 1/4th the fuel that you’d need to get the whole shebang into earth orbit for the whole trip. Escape velocity from Mars is, at 5km/s, about half that of Earth’s, so you can work the math. The moon’s is about a fifth, so that only requires 1/25th the fuel–a lot more doable.

  • 501 days cooped up in a space half the size of an RV?

    We had a hard enough time in a real RV going out West for two weeks.

    No thanks.

  • R. Hall

    Dr. Veith, why don’t you go? It sounds like the perfect setting for a reader and writer.

  • R. Hall

    Dr. Veith, why don’t you go? It sounds like the perfect setting for a reader and writer. A new kind of publicity, too, for PHC, Lutherans, etc.

  • Gene Veith

    The only person I’d want to spend that much time with would, in fact, be my wife. The thought, though, of being so cooped up for a year and a quarter, not being able to go outside. And yet, it has its appeal!