Someone with a whole lot of money wants to send a married couple to Mars. You need to be beyond child bearing years. Interesting, is that because they don't want any mishaps up there? Say the couple gets stuck and they start populating?
What's the problem is someone else going to be in line to be the next first Adam and Eve in case this trip does work out well?
You will read in the article what I can only guess is supposed to be a selling point about sex in space.
Really, wow, some of us would be happy with just having successful sex here on Earth.
Just when you think you've seen and heard it all.
Millionaire space tourist Dennis Tito's plan to send two astronauts on a 501-day flight that zooms past Mars and swings back to Earth would set plenty of precedents on the final frontier — but the most intriguing precedent might have to do with the astronauts that are to be sent: one man and one woman, preferably a married couple beyond childbearing years. We're talking about sex in space, folks.
And if that's not intriguing enough, consider this: There are already a couple of candidates for the job.
"We'll certainly throw our hat in the ring," said Taber MacCallum, who's a member of the development team for the 2018 mission that Tito has in mind.
MacCallum and his wife, Jane Poynter, were crew members together in Biosphere 2, the controversial two-year-long experiment in long-term environmental containment. They went on to become co-founders of Paragon Space Development Corp., a company specializing in life-support systems for spacecraft. Their expertise in life support is why they're involved in Tito's "Mission for America," which was officially unveiled on Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington. But it just so happens that they also fit the profile for the trip: Poynter is about 50, and MacCallum will turn 49 on July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The couple won't be the only candidates in the running. "When we tell people we're proposing to send a man and a woman on a mission to Mars, as a married couple, people line up. ... That chord gets struck over and over again," MacCallum said.
Taber MacCallum and his wife, Jane Poynter, are part of the planning team for a mission to Mars in 2018. They're also potential candidates to take the trip.
MacCallum explained that Tito wants the crew on humanity's first trip to Mars to be representative of humanity, and because the current concept for the trip calls for two spacefliers, that means a man and a woman. A married couple would be ideal, MacCallum said, because of the "whole issue of companionship." MacCallum didn't refer specifically to sex, but that would presumably be part of the companionship package.
"When you're out that far, and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you're going to need someone you can hug," Tito told Space.com. During Wednesday's briefing, Tito told reporters that he envisioned Dr. Phil giving the couple "marital advice" during the trip.
In addition to their experience with life-support systems (and with each other), MacCallum and Poynter can draw upon their experience with life in isolation during the Biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona, which lasted from 1991 to 1993. The isolation inside a two-room spacecraft for 501 days will be even deeper. Even though the Biosphere 2 crew was separated from the outside world, "we could walk out at any time," MacCallum pointed out.
That's not the only challenge: Even with radiation shielding in place, the round trip to Mars is likely to involve exposure levels higher than NASA's limits, MacCallum said. (That's why the astronauts should be beyond their childbearing years and willing to accept an increased risk of cancer.)
Then there's the exposure to the health effects of long-term weightlessness, including bone loss and muscle loss. The astronauts who fly past Mars will surpass Soviet cosmonaut Valery Polyakov's 437-day record for continuous time in microgravity, set in 1994-1995 aboard the much roomier Mir space station.
"We're definitely pushing boundaries," MacCallum said. "It's definitely going to be hard and challenging. But we can rely on elegance and simplicity."
When, where and how?
The details of the mission plan have come to light just in the past few days, but MacCallum said that Tito has been mulling over the idea for years. Tito started out as an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, helping to design trajectories for the Mariner missions to Mars in the 1970s. Then he put his math genius to work in the investment world, building California-based Wilshire Associates into a multibillion-dollar powerhouse. In 2001, he spent around $20 million of his fortune for a seat on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft traveling to and from to the International Space Station.
After his eight-day space tour, Tito got back to business. But he also started working out a trajectory that could send a spaceship directly from Earth to Mars for a fly-by within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the Red Planet's surface, and then back to the home planet 501 days after launch. Once the spaceship was on its way, only minor course corrections would be needed. There'd be no need for undocking or redocking ... no landing ... no do-or-die engine burn for the return from Mars.
There's one big catch, though: The trip will have to be started when the planets were aligned just right. One opportunity will come in 2016. Then there's another one in 2018. After that, the next chance won't come around until 2031.
Planning for a launch in January 2018 looked particularly attractive, and not just because that could plausibly provide enough time to put the mission together. That's also a time frame when solar activity is expected to be at a minimum, reducing the level of radiation exposure. So Tito assembled a team from Paragon as well as NASA's Ames Research Center and other space ventures to flesh out the mission plan.
The plan calls for launching the two astronauts in a crew capsule with a transfer rocket stage. If the launch vehicle is powerful enough — say, the size of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy — the upper stage and the crew capsule could be launched in one go. If the rocket doesn't have that much oomph, the capsule and the upper stage could be launched separately and then linked up in Earth orbit for the push onward to Mars.
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