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U.S. Tycoon Plans To Send Couple On Mars Mission

U.S. multimillionaire Denis Tito plans to send a couple on a mission to Mars.

Tito, 72, became the world's first space tourist in 2001 when he paid $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Tito said the mission is aimed to inspire future generations.

It will take a man and a woman -- preferably a couple with a strong marriage -- on a 501-day journey to Mars and back, but it would not land on the red planet.

The launch date is planned for January 2018.

Tito did not reveal details about the expenses involved, but experts say the mission is expected to cost between $1.5 and $2 billion.

Tito said the money would come from "private, charitable donations."

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP