The race to go to Mars is heating up. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has made the bold statement that the first people to arrive on the Red Planet will get there using spacecraft built by his company. In saying this, the aircraft manufacturer has become the latest contestant in the growing competition between several companies — most notable Elon Musk’s SpaceX — to reach Mars first.
Mars has become a popular subject in recent weeks, thanks to the major conference organized by SpaceX in Mexico in late September and a more recent one, held in Chicago by the Boeing Company.
Indeed, the US aircraft manufacturer has indirectly challenged Elon Musk on its Mars colonization projects expressing its interest in the development of a space travel system that aims to make the famous red planet a relatively accessible tourist destination to the general public (about $ 100,000 per person).
Boeing is not an opponent to underestimate. The company has decades of experience under its wings and has been involved in the most ambitious space programs in the United Stats. Boeing was one of the major players, which helped the United States win the famous race to the moon against the Soviet Union in the 60s.
In addition, the company has been working with NASA to develop a vessel that can be used for space exploration through a project called Space Launch System. Boeing is also working with Lockheed Martin on high-velocity aircraft, namely the Boeing X-51A Waverider, which traveled at 3293 MPH in 2013.
However, what makes the competition between Boeing and Space-X even more intense lies in the decision of NASA to go through these two private companies to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station.
Muilenburg as Musk consider space travel as one of the greatest opportunities of the new century, noting that space tourism “will open in the next few decades, becoming a viable commercial market”.
Both contractors agree that the economy must change to allow the construction of high-end vessels that can realize their project of colonization and tourism. However, their visions of the exploration of Mars deviate much as Musk is carried by a certain idealism, related to science and human survival against Muilenburg’s focus on the more mundane aspects such as the economic benefits.
However, these two views are not necessarily totally opposed. The prospect of making money is actually a very good engine to motivate investors. But finding a good balance between these two aspects will not be easy at all, especially as the competition is becoming increasingly fierce.