By Staff Writer Hinton Carter
Last week, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced plans to send humans to Mars using technology developed by SpaceX. Musk has released significant plans toward this goal, and he is confident in its potential. Many obstacles remain, including time of travel, fuel for rockets, and least of all, funding. Musk has stated that overall the cost per person would need to come down from 10 billion USD to around 200,000 USD for the project to be possible on a large scale, and 100 passengers per 80 day trip would be the optimal number. This seemingly impossible feat will first be tackled by engineering a reusable rocket system that can be refueled. SpaceX has made great strides towards this accomplishment already with their reusable Falcon 9 first-stage rocket, which saves the company 18.4 million USD per launch. In any case, Musk and SpaceX have stated that the first manned missions could occur as early as 2024, an aggressive timeline for any estimate thus far.
Concurrently, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told an audience at a conference in Chicago, “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket.” Boeing helped to develop the Saturn V rockets for NASA in the 1960s and 70s that helped the US accomplish space travel to the moon. His statements, depending on Boeing’s technological abilities in current space travel, could bring an unprecedented private firm space race to the like that we haven’t seen since the space race between the United States and Russia in the 1950s and 60s. Musk has spoken about Muilenburg’s comments, and he welcomes the competition. “I think it’s actually much better for the world if there are multiple companies or organizations building these interplanetary spacecraft. You know, the more the better,” said Musk.
NASA is also developing plans for human travel to Mars. They hope to have manned travel to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by 2030. However, NASA, unlike SpaceX and Boeing, is only planning on Mars exploration. SpaceX has plans for the colonization of Mars. The race for Mars in on, and only time will tell whether a government agency or a private firm will be the first to succeed. CR