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Inspiration Mars

The Foundation

A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Inspiration Mars Foundation believes in the exploration of space as a catalyst for growth, national prosperity, knowledge and global leadership. History has shown that strong nations reap these benefits when they boldly follow a path rooted in curiosity and guided by technological innovation.

We created our foundation to inspire Americans to take advantage of this unique window of opportunity to push the envelope of human experience, while reaching out to our youth to expand their views of their own futures in space exploration. Revitalizing interest among our students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is a vital part of our overall mission. Our goal is to provide a platform for unprecedented science, engineering and education opportunities, using state-of-the-art technologies derived from NASA and the International Space Station.

NASA and America’s space program have been a critical part of inspiring our nation and people everywhere to reach for their dreams and dare to invent their future. The Inspiration Mars Foundation is committed to moving America farther and faster toward our destiny as the world leaders in technical innovation, science, exploration and discovery.

The Mission

Mars presents a challenging, but attainable goal for advancing human experience and knowledge. We plan to launch "A Mission for America" that will use existing space transportation hardware and further drive technology development. It will generate knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. It will encourage and embolden all Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring the next generation of explorers to pursue their destiny through STEM education and exploration. Now is the time!


    In 2018, the planets will literally align, offering a unique orbit opportunity to travel to Mars and back to Earth in only 501 days. Inspiration Mars is committed to sending a two-person American crew – a man and a woman – on an historic journey to fly within 100 miles around the Red Planet and return to Earth safely.

    The mission’s target launch date is Jan. 5, 2018. This exceptionally quick, free-return orbit opportunity occurs twice every 15 years. After 2018, the next opportunity won’t occur again until 2031. The mission will provide a platform for unprecedented science, engineering and education opportunities, using state-of-the-art technologies derived from NASA and the International Space Station. It will be financed primarily through philanthropic donations, with some potential support from government sources.

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    This mission will be a flyby passing within 100 miles of the surface of Mars. Additional maneuvers will be minor course corrections only, using the gravitational influence of Mars to “slingshot” the vehicle onto a return course to Earth. An inflatable habitat module will be deployed after launch and detached prior to re-entry.

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    Investments in human space exploration technologies and operations by NASA and the space industry are converging in time to make such a mission achievable. The mission is being designed based on proven Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) systems and technologies that are available on the market today. We are currently in discussions with many of the leading U.S. commercial aerospace companies to tap into their existing launch engines and vehicles. Environmental and life support operations will be directly derived from International Space Station technologies, which have proven design, development and operational lessons to draw from.

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Mission Importance

    This mission will showcase American innovation at its best, generating knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. It represents an unprecedented, long-duration research opportunity that will lead to new, cutting-edge discoveries. It validates decades of taxpayer investment in NASA technology and strengthens the United States’ position as a leader in exploration. It inspires the next generation of explorers to pursue their destiny through STEM education. This mission is the ultimate demonstration of our collective space exploration capabilities to date.

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Rewards & Risks

    The beauty of this mission is its simplicity. The flyby architecture lowers risk, with no critical propulsive maneuvers, no entry into the Mars atmosphere, and no rendezvous and docking. It also represents the shortest duration roundtrip mission to Mars. The 2018 launch opportunity coincides with the 11-year solar minimum providing the lowest solar radiation exposure. The next launch opportunity for this mission (2031) will not have the advantage of being at the solar minimum.

    There are risks associated with the mission, as is true of every space exploration mission. But these are exactly the kinds of risks that America should be willing to take in order to advance our knowledge, experience and position as a world leader. We believe the risks and challenges we have uncovered are well within the scope of our collective experience and can be overcome to achieve a safe and successful mission. In fact, studies by experts have found that the technology and systems are viable with proper integration, testing and preparation for flight.

    We are steadfastly committed to the safety, health and overall well-being of our crew. We will only fly this mission if we are convinced that it is safe to do.

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Role with NASA

    Our "Mission for America" aligns perfectly with our nation's emerging space priorities and programs, and will contribute valuable research to accelerate the next generation of systems and their missions. NASA has a strong plan for taking Americans farther into space and is investing wisely in a new human spacecraft and heavy lift launch vehicle - systems our nation needs for our long-term plans beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO). We're using the proven LEO systems and technology that NASA and the industry have created to seize this unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to create public awareness, enthusiasm and momentum for a long-term commitment and vision for space exploration beyond LEO…all the way to Mars.

    In addition, the foundation has formed a partnership with NASA via a reimbursable Space Act Agreement between Paragon and the Ames Research Center to conduct thermal protection system and technology testing and evaluation. Foundation officials will also seek to tap into NASA’s knowledge, experience and technologies to fine-tune and/or develop some of the more challenging elements of this mission, including environmental controls, radiation protection, and human health and productivity plans.

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Our Partners

This mission showcases American innovation at its best. We will tackle this unique challenge via a low-cost, collaborative, nonprofit approach that has the support of NASA and an evolving team of industry partners. We are engaging the best minds in industry and government to develop and integrate the space flight systems and to design innovative research, outreach and education programs for the mission.

"I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it"

President Barack Obama. Kennedy Space Center, April 15, 2010

It is time for America not to withdraw within itself, but to dream big dreams again. It is time for Americans to unite in accomplishing big goals again and reap the benefits in our educational systems, technical advancement and the economy that were realized when we first journeyed to the Moon.

NASA Astronaut, Jerry Ross, January 28, 2013

Copyright © Inspiration Mars Foundation 2013. All Rights Reserved.