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Married Couples! Want To Go To Mars?

Are you interested in a quick trip around Mars and back? Are you married? You might fit the profile suggested by Dennis Tito, a multimillionaire who says he is willing to pay start-up costs for two years to begin development of life-support systems and other technologies for such a voyage.

A nonprofit foundation wants to recruit a man and a woman - possibly a married couple - for a bare-bones, 501-day journey to Mars and back that would start in less than five years, project organizers said on Wednesday. The mission, expected to cost upwards of $1 billion, would be privately financed by donations and sponsorships.

The spacecraft will be bare-bones, with about 600 cubic feet (17 cubic meters) of living space available for a two-person crew. Mission planners would like to fly a man and a woman, preferably a married couple who would be compatible during a long period of isolation.

The capsule would be outfitted with a life-support system similar to the one NASA uses on the space station, which recycles air, water, urine and perspiration.

"This is going to be a very austere mission. You don't necessarily have to follow all of NASA's guidelines for air quality and water quality. This is going to be a Lewis and Clark trip to Mars," MacCallum said, referring to the explorers who set out across the uncharted American Northwest in 1803. If launch occurs on January 5, 2018, the capsule would reach Mars 228 days later, loop around its far side and slingshot back toward Earth.

Robert Heinlein set up the same situation in his 1961 classic Stranger in a Strange Land, which begins with finding a crew for an old-fashioned expedition sent to Mars:

...the physical danger was judged to be less important than the psychological stresses. Eight humans, crowded together like monkeys for almost three Terran years, had better get along much better than humans usually did... A ship's company of four married couples had been decided on as optimum, if the necessary specialties could be found in such a combination.

The University of Edinburgh, prime contractor, sub-contracted crew selection to the Institute for Social Studies...

Captain Michael Brunt, M.S., Cmdr. D. F. Reserve, pilot (unlimited license), and veteran at thirty of the Moon run, seems to have had an inside track at the Institute, someone who was willing to look up for him the names of single female volunteers who might (with him) complete a crew... This would account for his action in jetting to Australia and proposing marriage to Doctor Winifred Coburn, a horse-faced spinster semantician nine years his senior. Lights blinked, punched cards popped out, and a crew for the Envoy had been found...

It seems Grandmaster Heinlein has a useful suggestion for would-be travelers to Mars...

Via Yahoo news.

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