(Credit: Inspiration Mars)

If Dennis Tito has his way, two people will leave our planet in January 2018 and make a trip to Mars and back, with a quick flyby, SpaceRef reports.

The project is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization, the Inspiration Mars Foundation.

Tito’s mission will be facilitated by donors, not investors.

Tito and a group of coauthors from NASA and several aerospace companies have put together a concept study, “Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018,” to be presented at the 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference on March 3.

It will use an upgraded SpaceX Dragon capsule as the habitable volume for the entire mission. This spacecraft would be launched on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy and follows an optimized free-return trajectory to Mars and back.

The closest that the spacecraft would get to Mars would be ~100 km — and the crew would only spend 10 hours within that distance of the planet.

Sources report that it is the intention of Inspiration Mars to have a crew comprised of a man and a woman.

Some insight into the rationale for this mission can be found in the IEEE paper: “Sending humans on an expedition to Mars will be a defining event for humanity as well as an inspiration to our youth. Social media provides an opportunity for people to meaningfully participate in the mission, likely making this the most engaging human endeavor in modern history. The mission will address one of the most fundamental technical challenges facing human exploration of space, keeping the humans alive and productive in deep space.”

Source: Kurzweilai