Space tourist Dennis Tito will fund a trip to Mars for a lucky couple.
[It’s] 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.