The Mars Race: Elon Musk Challenges Boeing To Send Manned Mission To The Red Planet First

The space race pitched the U.S. vs Russia. Now private companies vie to overcome the next big hurdle in space exploration.

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Who goes to Mars first?

In the cold war days, the United States continuously battled with the Soviet Union when it came to space exploration. Although the Soviet Union managed to send the first man to space, America responded with sending the first man to the moon.

Now, almost 50 years after Neil Armstrong took that famous stride for mankind, it is not countries vying to overcome the next big challenge in space exploration, but companies. The question for everyone interested in deep space exploration is: when will be able to send a manned mission to Mars, and who will do it?

Elon Musk, the unambiguously ambitious creator of SpaceX, has been one of the most vocal proponents about his desire to send human beings to Mars. He hopes to send the first cargo mission to Mars by 2022, and the first manned mission by 2024 using an advanced rocket system called the BFR. For him, successfully sending a human to Mars will be the first step toward earthlings finally colonizing the red planet.

Not only Musk, but as we have seen our entire cultural landscape alter drastically with the inception of digital media in the first two decades of the new century, Mars has occupied an elusive space in our understanding of deep space exploration. By all accounts, that is where the next big adventure is going to happen for humankind.

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So it is no wonder that Musk is going to be rivaled when it comes to reaching his dream. And his biggest competitor is going to be Boeing. The airline company is already working with NASA engineers to build a gargantuan rocket space system that is supposed to be 38 stories tall with about 9.2 million pounds of thrust — the equivalent of 207,000 Corvettes.

Dennis Muilenberg, Boeing’s CEO, seems confident that it is going to be his company which sends the first man to Mars. As CNBC reported, when asked if Boeing is on course to send humans to Mars, he had this to say.

“I firmly believe that the first person to step foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket.

“We are working jointly with NASA and our industry team right now. We are building that first rocket space launch system.”

When Elon Musk learned about Boeing’s vision to beat SpaceX to Mars, he had only two words: “Do it.”

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Whether or not Boeing becomes the first company to send people to Mars, the developing rivalry between these two giants is something that will keep space enthusiasts occupied going into the next decade. It is a rivalry that Muilenberg acknowledges, but he also points out about the two companies being partners.

“Well, it’s a rivalry. It’s competitive. In some places we work together. We launch satellites today on SpaceX rockets, but we also compete,” he said.

Muilenberg is absolutely right. In fact, SpaceX and Boeing together were supposed to launch a Falcon 9 (designed by SpaceX) with SES 12 communications satellite (designed by Boeing) today, which, as the Inquisitr reported, has now been moved to Monday.

This is perhaps what is different now from the space race of the mid-20th century. There is an insatiable hunger to reach Mars, and as competing as this vision is for companies, it is also something they want to do together.