Rich Guy Dennis Tito Plans to Almost Send People to Mars in 2017

Dennis Tito. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Isn't it time we sent a person to Mars? Probably, right? It just seems like something we should do. Well, multimillionaire* Dennis Tito, famous for being the world's first paying space tourist, agrees. Today he officially announced his plans to launch a 501-day manned mission (one man, one woman) to Mars in 2017, at a time when the planet happens to be relatively close to ours. Which would be a lot more exciting if the astronauts were actually going to land on the planet. But they aren't — the mission will be of the "fly-by" variety.

We realize that actually landing on Mars and then returning to Earth would be a lot more complicated and costly, but, nevertheless, we can't help but feel like going all the way to Mars without landing is kind of a letdown. It would be like Harold and Kumar finally making it to White Castle, turning around in the parking lot, and driving home without ever stepping foot inside. 

*The Washington Post refers to Tito as a billionaire, but this March 2013 story from the Street says his net worth "is estimated in the low-to-mid hundreds of millions."