Megamillionaire Dennis Tito, who's already made a trip to space via Russian rocket, supposedly plans a manned mission to Mars by 2018.
More power to him. And rotsa ruck.
In reality? There's almost no way he can get everything ready by that deadline. If he does, the briefness of the actual stay time on Mars will make it of little scientific value. And, assuming he won't be able to shield the spacecraft from cosmic rays, he'll be knocking years off his life expectancy.
More here, in an extended previous blog post, about the reality of the difficulties of a manned mission to Mars. And, now, March 8, we read about how a fair chunk of the memory of the Curiosity rover got zapped by a cosmic ray.
Beyond the technical, psychological and other difficulties, I estimated the cost at possibly reaching $1 trillion. Tito says he can do it much cheaper than many other estimates. If he's telling one-quarter the truth, then he's skimping on three-quarters the safety, psychological safety and other issues I mention.
Part of me actually hopes he goes, and suffers a massive disaster, just so the country as a whole gets real about how serious of a venture this is.
I'm totally serious. If we learn through mistakes, then that's going to have to be part of the learning. And, sometimes we collectively refuse to do such learning. Challenger, anybody?