Millionaire Dennis Tito, 72, is widely known as the first private citizen to fly into space in 2001. But being the entrepreneurial spirit he is, he wants to go even further  – he plans to send two astronauts to Mars in 2018.

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Dennis Tito (left) spent 8 days aboard the International Space Station.

We’re still awaiting for the next week conference in which he will announce the details, but so far, it’s pretty clear that he is planning a manned mission to Mars, one which will not land on the red planet however. The rocket which will fly the astronauts there there will probably be a modified version of the SpaceX rocket.

The idea may seem a little flimsy at the moment, but Tito has some significant experience with outer space exploration, and it feels like he’s adamant about this idea. Last June, a company called Mars One, founded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, announced it was planning a one-way trip to the Mars in 2023.

Meanwhile, NASA has ambitions to send astronauts to Mars by 2035, but if you ask me, the agency has lost so much ground to private ventures in the past years, that if this trend continues, we will pretty soon start to look elsewhere for exploration inside our solar system.