Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told an audience at an innovation conference in Chicago that the company plans to be the first to Mars. “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said.
The news comes after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had presented his plans on how to make human beings a multi-planetary species, in specific accomplishing this by sending humans to the Red Planet.
“Over the last 100 years, it is remarkable to think that men and women went from walking on the Earth to walking on the moon, we went from riding horses to flying on airplanes,” the CEO noted during the event, according to ABC News. He added that he envisioned “even greater” and “even bolder” technological advances over the next century.
Next-generation Space Race set to take place in the private sector
Muilenburg went on to tell reporters that he believed the future would bring breakthroughs in the field of “supersonic, hyper-sonic travel” as well as “the ability to connect anywhere in the world in a couple of hours.” He added that space tourism would be “blossoming over the next couple of decades into a viable commercial market,” according to Bloomberg and ABC News.
Furthermore, the Boeing CEO stated that he believed the International Space Station (ISS) could be joined in orbit by space hotels and micro-gravity research and manufacturing facilities. Such a future is “fascinating” to his company, Muilenburg said. When laying out his company’s plans in September, Musk compared establishing a space transport system to “building the Union Pacific railroad.” Using that metaphor, Boeing seems confident it can lay down its tracks first.
Of course, Boeing and SpaceX are not the only aerospace companies competing for a slice of the space travel pie: Blue Origin, the firm established by billionaire Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, passed an in-flight escape test earlier this week after having previously landed a reusable booster rocket after liftoff. SpaceX has successfully completed the latter feat on multiple occasions as well.
Unlike Musk and Muilenburg, Bezos has kept his ultimate space-travel plans “close to the vest,” according to the Los Angeles Times. He has, however, teased a new rocket, the New Armstrong, which the newspaper said is capable of sending a launch vehicle to the moon. While the future remains uncertain for all three companies, one thing is certain – as ABC news put it, “the race to the red planet is on,” only this time the Space Race will be waged in the private sector.