February 28, 2013

Test your marriage on mission to Mars

A tycoon who became the first space tourist is looking for a couple to make the 501-day trip.

The Associated Press

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An artist’s drawing provided by Inspiration Mars depicts a spacecraft that would be used to send a married couple on a 16-month mission to the red planet and back. The cost of the venture is expected to exceed $1 billion.

The Associated Press

TITO
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American multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who became the first space tourist in 2001, is bankrolling a plan to send a married couple on a journey to Mars.

The Associated Press

"Life is risky," said Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon whose astronaut wife died in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident. "Anything that's worth it is worth putting it all at stake for."

What may be most at stake is the crew members' marriage. The couple will be selected within a year.

MacCallum and his wife, Jane Poynter, hope to be picked. They were a couple when they participated in Biosphere 2, a sort of giant terrarium that was supposed to replicate a mission on another planet. Poynter said it was such a fraught experience psychologically that some participants wouldn't talk to each other for most of the two years.

But MacCallum said it brought him and Poynter closer together. He said the right couple going to Mars, if screened and counseled ahead of time, would come back with a stronger marriage.

Poynter said the husband and wife need to be even-tempered. Clark said they should be post-childbearing age because of exposure to radiation. Poynter is 50, MacCallum 48.

For the 30 years NASA has been flying men and women, it has avoided the question of sex in space. MacCallum said it will happen: "It's a man and wife. Private time. Let your imagination run wild."

In a statement, NASA spokesman David Steitz said the venture validates President Barack Obama's decision to rely more on private sector ingenuity to explore space, and is "a testament to . . . the adventurous spirit of America's citizen-explorers."

 

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