Space-Traveling Tycoon Launches Foundation for Mars Mission

The wealthy businessman who 12 years ago became the first person to go into outer space as a tourist has started a nonprofit organization that aims to send a couple on a journey to Mars, according to NPR and USA Today.

Dennis Tito, a former aerospace engineer who amassed a fortune in finance, unveiled the Inspiration Mars Foundation at a Washington news conference Wednesday. Mr. Tito, who paid $20-million in 2001 to join a Russian rocket mission to the International Space Station, estimated the Mars effort would cost $2.5-billion, which he plans to raise from donors and commercial sponsors.

The 73-year-old said he would not take part in the planned mission to launch in 2018 but will instead seek to send a couple who can provide each other emotional support during the 501-day journey to circle the Red Planet, coming within 70 miles of the Martian surface, and return to Earth.

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