Boeing CEO Claims They Can Reach Mars Before SpaceX

Saturday, 09 December 2017 - 4:40PM
Mars
SpaceX
Saturday, 09 December 2017 - 4:40PM
Boeing CEO Claims They Can Reach Mars Before SpaceX
NASA
It's been said before, but the next big "space race" will very likely be fought between corporations instead of countries. With the destination of that race being Mars.

After Elon Musk claimed earlier this year that his company SpaceX was on track to send an unmanned craft to Mars by 2022, with plans to send humans to the Red Planet shortly after, other aerospace companies are beginning to throw their hats into the ring. Speaking on CNBC this past Thursday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg claimed that his company will actually be the first to send humans to Mars.

Muilenburg was there to discuss some of Boeing's plans for the future, including their contributions to NASA's 36-story rocket called the "Space Launch System" (SLS), which is being prepped for its first test flight. Eventually, he was asked whether Musk might actually "get a man on Mars first," and he responded:

Opening quote
"Eventually we're going to go to Mars and I firmly believe the first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket."
Closing quote


It didn't take long before Musk heard the news. And since Musk isn't the type of eccentric billionaire who'd turn down a challenge like that, he issued a much shorter statement:

 
Muilenburg has made similar claims in the past, and the two companies have butted heads before. NASA previously gave contracts to both companies to create a reusable "space taxi" which could ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, and both have made progress on that front: the SpaceX Dragon capsule is approaching an unmanned launch to the ISS, and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will soon undergo test flights of its own.

But corporate visions of Mars exploration are steadily growing more realistic. Musk now has a set timeframe for Mars trips, as well as some public schematics for the rocket he intends to send there, named the BFR. And that's just what he's made public, as there's likely much more going on behind closed SpaceX doors.



On the other hand, Boeing collaborates with NASA much more frequently, and Inverse speculated that Muilenburg's phrasing of a Boeing rocket isn't the same as a Boeing mission. It's possible that Boeing is preemptively taking some credit if NASA manages to send the SLS to the Red Planet, which the spacecraft is certainly powerful enough to do (once it's ready, of course). In that sense, Boeing's challenge might have some more weight behind it.

Frankly, it's hard to imagine anybody besides NASA getting there first, as the space agency is only party here who's actually sent anything to Mars in the past. And until Musk declared that SpaceX could send passengers to Mars without any outside help, it was expected that they would stick to working alongside NASA on the matter.

No matter who gets there first, it'll be a few years at least before anybody approaches the Red Planet. And there's bound to be more challengers eventually - Virgin Galactic has spaceflight ambitions of their own, and it's easy to picture Richard Branson deciding he wants in on this.
Science
Space
Mars
SpaceX
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