Space exploration is going a little Heinleinian. Tito Wants to send Married Couple on Mars flyby mission. [No. Not this Tito.]
Millionaire and space tourist Dennis Tito announced his plans for funding a commercial mission to Mars, and the mission will send two professional crew members – one man and one woman who will likely be a married couple – flying as private citizens on a “fast, free-return” mission, passing within 100 miles of Mars before swinging back and safely returning to Earth. The spacecraft will likely be tinier than a small Winnebago recreational vehicle. Target launch date is Jan. 5, 2018.
I don't know which is more astonishing: that a non-government organisation has a serious proposal for manned space exploration or that they specifically want a married man and woman.
The beauty of this mission is its simplicity. The flyby architecture lowers risk, with no critical propulsive maneuvers, no entry into the Mars atmosphere, and no rendezvous and docking. It also represents the shortest duration roundtrip mission to Mars. The 2018 launch opportunity coincides with the 11-year solar minimum providing the lowest solar radiation exposure. The next launch opportunity for this mission (2031) will not have the advantage of being at the solar minimum.