The space-race to Mars is heating up, as Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg seemingly calls out SpaceX CEO Elon Musk by saying his company will send the first human to the red planet.
Not one to back down from an opportunity to fire back with some sass, Musk invited the challenge, tweeting back with a simple two-words: “Do it”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2017
This isn’t the first time we’re learning of Boeing’s ambitious plan to colonize Mars and go toe-to-toe with the serial tech entrepreneur behind Tesla, SpaceX and a list of industry disrupting ventures.
Boeing’s CEO said in 2016, at the “Whats Next” tech conference in Chicago, that the first human to land on Mars will travel on a Boeing rocket. “I’m convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket,” said Muilenburg, according to Bloomberg.
Speaking to CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Thursday morning, Muilenburg furthered his claim that Boeing will send the first human to Mar using a “next generation rocket” that its building with NASA.
“Eventually we’re going to go Mars and I firmly believe the first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket,” said Muilenburg. “We’re working on that next generation rocket right now with our NASA customers called ‘Space Launch System,’”
According to Fortune, Muilenburg touched on the company’s plans to test the new rocket in 2019. “This is a rocket that’s about 36 stories tall, we’re in the final assembly right now, down near New Orleans. And we’re going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we’re going to do a slingshot mission around the moon.”
The legacy aerospace company that once served as the primary contractor for the U.S. government’s NASA program has continued to shed business to newcomer SpaceX. Prompted by a cooling in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Russia, NASA shifted contracts that once relied on soviet-era spacecrafts to both Boeing and SpaceX. Boeing and SpaceX were awarded contracts in 2014 to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.
But as the young space company led by Musk continued to make advancements in rocket technology, namely the ability to self-land rockets after flight and hold to a rapid launch cadence through the reuse of previously flown rockets, SpaceX continued to strip lucrative government contracts away from Boeing. Earlier this year, SpaceX was awarded a $96.5 million contract with the U.S. Air Force, beating out Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s joint venture, United Launch Alliance, for a chance to assist on future space missions.
Additional successes by SpaceX in the construction of carbon fiber liquid oxygen tanks to be used in the company’s “Mars engine“, further validates the company’s push to fulfill Musk’s plans to build a civilization on Mars.
Musk presented an update to his Interplanetary Transport System that included a look at SpaceX’s BFR rocket: a massive space transport rocket that intends to house 100 Mars-bound travelers for as long as six months in individual cabins, but also facilitate rapid earth-to-earth travel.