Tycoon proposes to send married couple on a flight around Mars in 2018; 16 months in a capsule

Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A tycoon and space experts have announced an audacious plan to send a married couple around Mars in 2018.

They wouldn't land on the planet, just pass by and return.

The mission announced Wednesday would last more than 16 months. Team member Taber MacCallum compares it to the Lewis and Clark expedition that explored the western U.S. two centuries ago.

The non-profit "Inspiration Mars" will get initial money from multimillionaire Dennis Tito, the first space tourist. Outsiders put the price tag at more than $1 billion.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, isn't involved in the project.

The mission would entail minimal clothing, food and water. MacCallum said the couple would use a private rocket and capsule.