Dennis Tito’s echoes of Apollo’s day trip to Venus

I’m fascinated by Dennis Tito’s announcement of a manned fly-by of Mars (if he can find a few more people to co-fund it with him), with the goal of sending two people on a 500 day mission to fly out to Mars, pass round it at high speed, and then come back to Earth again. Because you don’t stop at the other end, it doesn’t need a huge amount of energy. It’s not the first time something like this has been proposed, NASA had a wacky plan to do this with a Saturn V and an Apollo capsule in the sixties… but to Venus.

The proposed mission would use a Saturn V to send three men to fly past Venus in a flight which would last approximately one year. The S-IVB stage would be a ‘wet workshop’ similar to Skylab, first using the S-IVB engine to launch the mission on course to Venus, and then venting of any remaining fuel to serve as home for the crew for the duration of the mission. The Apollo SM engine would be used for course corrections on the way to Venus and back to Earth, and for a braking burn before the Command Module re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.

The amount of science that can be done on the planet is minimal, but that’s not the goal. The goal will include practical experience in a long duration space mission outside of low Earth orbit, but the biggest effect would be on the next generation, who never had a moon-shot or a Space Shuttle to believe in. Imagine how popular that YouTube live stream is going to on the slingshot round the Red planet…