Congress has Mars in its eyes. In the wake of a hearing last week, the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has asked NASA to consider a crewed fly-by of the Red Planet in 2021. The venture's funding and feasibility remain vague, however, and NASA's 2015 budget plan, released today, maintains that an asteroid will be the first destination for astronauts riding the agency's next-generation space capsule.
The Mars fly-by proposal is built on plans for a privately funded mission laid out by Inspiration Mars, a non-profit endeavour formed by multimillionaire Dennis Tito. Barely a year after Inspiration Mars was announced, Tito went before Congress hat in hand, saying the flight wouldn't be possible without the use of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion space capsule, both still in development. He made the case for a NASA-led fly-by of Mars and Venus in 2021, which he argued would cost less than $1 billion.To read more, click here.