Humans are 1.37 years away from traveling to Mars. No, we're not going to land on the Red Planet in 2014 — rather, that's the amount of time needed to actually travel to, around, and back from our planetary neighbor, according to a joint announcement delivered on Wednesday by the Paragon Space Development Corp., a company that specializes in equipment for space missions, and the eccentric millionaire Dennis Tito, known primarily for being the world's first space tourist. Tito and Paragon's CEO say they're scouting out a man and a woman to prepare for and eventually travel to Mars — an older couple, past their childbearing years, since this is a long and lonely trip: 501 days — or about 1.37 Earth years. The estimate takes into account the "Inspiration Mars" mission's central quirk, that these human specimens wouldn't actually touch down on Mars's surface — rather, they'd simply travel by the planet and eventually return to Earth.
The details on how this mission would work are still being sketched out, but Tito & Co. want to launch by 2018, when Mars will be unusually close to Earth — some 36 millions miles away. But the biggest obstacle has nothing to do with logistics and everything to do with the mission's price tag, which Tito tells CNN is likely to hover around $1 billion. Maybe he and NASA could commiserate, as money has been holding back its manned spaceflight program for years.