Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg appears to have doubled down on his previous challenge to Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, as both companies hope to be the first to send humans to Mars. But while Muilenburg appeared to be serious when he, like Musk, predicted that he could help send people to the Red Planet in about a decade from now, he was noticeably far more lighthearted when he uttered a particularly memorable quote about wanting to bring Musk’s Tesla Roadster back to Earth.
In a recent interview at a Politico Space Forum, Muilenburg talked in depth about NASA’s Space Launch System, a so-called family of “megarockets” whose unmanned maiden launch is expected to take place sometime next year. As pointed out by the Daily Mail, this first flight will be followed up by a crewed one in 2023, as part of the space agency’s Orion mission. But it might also be used on other, more ambitious missions in the coming years, as NASA is hopeful the SLS will help put the first humans on Mars sometime in the 2030s.
As further noted by the Daily Mail, Muilenburg is confident that Boeing could supply the rocket that helps send the first humans to Mars and, like Elon Musk, hopes that mission would take place sometime in the next 10 years or so. These remarks were made on the same week that SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell offered similar comments at a TED conference in Vancouver, as she predicted that her company will “take humans to Mars within a decade.” Likewise, Muilenburg’s comments were made four months after a December of 2017 interview, where he told CNBC that Boeing “will beat SpaceX to Mars.”
Boeing CEO says he's considering launching a rocket to bring back rival Elon Musk's Tesla https://t.co/3Z8Y6PycFn— TIME (@TIME) April 12, 2018
Although Musk and Muilenburg have similar goals for sending people to Mars, the two CEOs differed in one area — the latter isn’t willing to do what the former did by launching an automobile into space. Instead, he joked, he could try doing the opposite, sending Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster back to Earth.
“We might pick up the one out there and bring it back.”
According to a report from Time, Dennis Muilenburg’s Tesla Roadster quip may have been playful, but that might not be the case when it comes to his rivalry with Musk, one that the publication believes could lead to a new, “ultimate” space race. Time wrote that SpaceX has been making its name in the rocket manufacturing space by “undercutting” companies like the Boeing-Lockheed Martin Corporation’s United Launch Alliance and reducing costs by using reusable rocket boosters, among other features.