Boeing CEO vows to beat Elon Musk's SpaceX to the red planet days after it unveiled plans for a Mars colony

  • Dennis Muilenburg says first person on Mars will arrive on Boeing rocket
  • Elon Musk's SpaceX has just unveiled its Interplanetary Transport System
  • Both firms are currently developing spacecraft for Nasa to ferry commercial astronaut crews to the International Space Station 

Boeing could beat Elon Musk's SpaceX to be the land humankind on Mars.

The aerospace firm played a vital role in the Apollo moon landings, and has also committed to building a capsule for Nasa's Space Launch System (SLS) to take astronauts into space in future.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said this week that he believes Boeing will win the race to get to the red planet first. 

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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg (left) aims to beat Elon Musk (right) and SpaceX to reach Mars first

ELON MUSK AND MARS 

Last week, SpaceX chief Elon Musk unveiled his most ambitious project yet - an 'Interplanetary Transport System' to take mankind to Mars in 80 days and build a sustainable human colony of a million people there.

'What I want to achieve is make Mars seem possible, to show that we can do it in our lifetimes, and you could go,' he said at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.

However, he warned the trip was likely to be dangerous - and said candidates for the first missions 'must be prepared to die'.  

The Interplanetary Transport System will use a giant rocket booster with a 39 foot (12m) diameter and 49 engines, and a special shuttle with a 56 foot (17m) diameter, making the entire rocket stack 400 feet (122m) high. 

They will launch with empty fuel tanks and refuel in orbit.

Once on Mars, they would make more methane fuel for the return journey. 

'I'm convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,' said Mr Muilenburg at a conference in Chicago, reports Bloomberg.

The company believes that the future of commercial space travel will focus on private firms shuttling people and cargo between numerous locations beyond Earth.

It was even suggested that the International Space Station could be joined by a 'space hotel' along with other microgravity research labs.  

In 2014, Nasa announced that it had selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop the four-person capsules that will launch astronauts into orbit on top of the space agency's new SLS, which is scheduled for its first launch in 2018.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon will be used to ferry the space agency's commercial crew to the International Space Station (ISS).

Like SpaceX, Boeing is also working on technology to transport astronauts beyond the space station, and potentially to Mars. 

Last week, Elon Musk unveiled SpaceX's 'Interplanetary Transport System' which he believes will take people to Mars in 80 days and build a sustainable human colony of a million people there.

The Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), was formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT).

SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), was formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT), artist's impression pictured

'What I want to achieve is make Mars seem possible, to show that we can do it in our lifetimes, and you could go,' he said at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.

However, he warned the trip was likely to be dangerous - and said candidates for the first missions 'must be prepared to die'. 

The Interplanetary Transport System will use a giant rocket booster with a 39 foot (12m) diameter and 49 engines, and a special shuttle with a 56 foot (17m) diameter, making the entire rocket stack 400 feet (122m) high.

They will launch with empty fuel tanks and refuel in orbit. 

Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft will  first be used to take astronauts to the ISS, pictured. However, Boeing also envisages a future where it is used to transport astronauts to private spacecraft such as Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitats

Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft will first be used to take astronauts to the ISS, pictured. However, Boeing also envisages a future where it is used to transport astronauts to private spacecraft such as Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitats

Boeing's mockup of the interior of its CST-100 capsule that will be used to launch astronauts into space in the coming years. The spacecraft is funded by Nasa as part of its programme to develop private spacecraft

Boeing's mockup of the interior of its CST-100 capsule that will be used to launch astronauts into space in the coming years. The spacecraft is funded by Nasa as part of its programme to develop private spacecraft


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