This is what happens when we start relying on the private sector for all of our space exploration — rich people do all kinds of crazy shit. Currently, thanks to an investment by NASA engineer-turned-multimillionaire Dennis Tito, engineers are currently in the process of constructing a spaceship that will take one lucky couple to Mars and back on a 501 day trip. I'm sorry — did I say lucky? What I meant to say was insane because that sounds fucking terrible.
Imagine being on a cruise for 501 days. Only on this cruise, you get no fresh air, you never dock, you only get to communicate with your spouse and you're forced to drink your own filtered pee like Kevin Costner in Waterworld. The cruise ship is half the size of an RV and, oh, your ticket costs $1 billion.
This "bare bones" spacecraft would, if all goes according to plan, launch in 2018 with no test flights. The couple selected will have some space-travel expertise (they do have to navigate a spaceship, after all) and will likely be middle-aged because it increases their chances of being emotionally supportive of one another, "even tempered," patient and past the time to bear children (which is necessary because of radiation exposure). As for why only couples are being selected, "this is very symbolic and we really need it to represent humanity," says chief technical officer Taber MacCallum, who hopes to be selected to make the journey alongside his wife. (No word on how Mrs. MacCallum feels about this idea.)
As for these representatives for humanity, any chance encounters that they have with aliens will be a filthy one, seeing as there are no showers on board, limited toilet paper and, as previously mentioned, the crew members' drinking water will be made from recycled sweat and urine.
Currently, the flight plans are being described by NASA's former Mars mission chief Scott Hubbard as "long on inspiration, short on technical details. What is there is correct." Regardless, the mission will be difficult and dangerous. Not only would the quickly-built ship reenter the Earth's atmosphere at twice the normal speed of a space craft, but it will also be flying at a time when galactic cosmic rays will be high because of the sunspot cycle, an occurrence that will increase crew members' risk of cancer by 3%.
Better two crazy (IN LOVE) pioneers then some poor monkey, I guess.