The private, nonprofit project, called Inspiration Mars, will get initial money from NASA engineer-turned-multimillionaire investment consultant Dennis Tito, the first space tourist. The organizers hope to raise the rest through donations, advertising and media partnerships.
NASA, which has talked about sending astronauts to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s, will not be involved in this project. Instead, its backers intend to use a ship built by other aerospace companies, employing an austere design that could take people to Mars for a fraction of what it would cost the space agency to do with robots, officials said.
Even though some of the hardware hasn’t even been built, Tito said he is confident everything will come together by 2018 with no test flights.