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posted by martyb on Monday December 11 2017, @01:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the competition++ dept.

Who will make it to Mars first?

It was about a year ago that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg first began saying his company would beat SpaceX to Mars. "I'm convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," he said during a Boeing-sponsored tech summit in Chicago in October 2016.

On Thursday, Muilenburg repeated that claim on CNBC. Moreover, he added this tidbit about the Space Launch System rocket—for which Boeing is the prime contractor of the core stage—"We're going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we're going to do a slingshot mission around the Moon."

Unlike last year, Muilenburg drew a response from SpaceX this time. The company's founder, Elon Musk, offered a pithy response on Twitter: "Do it."

The truth is that Boeing's rocket isn't going anywhere particularly fast. Although Muilenburg says it will launch in 2019, NASA has all but admitted that will not happen. The rocket's maiden launch has already slipped from late 2017 into "no earlier than" December 2019. However, NASA officials have said a 2019 launch is a "best case" scenario, and a slip to June 2020 is more likely.

#SLS2020

Also, the next SpaceX flight is an ISS resupply mission and is scheduled for this coming Tuesday (December 12, 2017) at 1646 GMT (11:46 a.m. EST) from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The plan is for the booster to return to landing at Landing Zone-1, also at Cape Canaveral.

Previously: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans
SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner
SpaceX: Making Human Life Multiplanetary

Related: VP of Engineering at United Launch Alliance Resigns over Comments About the Space Launch Industry
ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
SpaceX Unlocks "Steamroller" Achievement as Company Eyes 19 Launches in 2017
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday December 11 2017, @04:16PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday December 11 2017, @04:16PM (#608300) Journal

    I've looked into that. China is ramping up their space program, but their big spend in the near term is going to be on their own space station [wikipedia.org] (originally called Tiangong-3). It may come with a better-than-Hubble space telescope [popsci.com]. Which should be considered a good thing for the world (probably should have been done with the ISS). But it's still Low Earth orbit, nowhere near Mars, "ground" that has already been tread.

    They (CNSA) plan to send a rover [wikipedia.org] to Mars around the same time as NASA's Mars 2020 [wikipedia.org] rover and ESA's ExoMars 2020 [wikipedia.org].

    But none of the national space agencies have announced a plan to land on Mars. That's right, there is no plan to land on Mars. You hear about 2035 being the target date. Current NASA plans [wikipedia.org] would involve a lunar space station in the 2020s followed by a Mars space station around 2033. No manned landing. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are already working [popularmechanics.com] on the Deep Space Gateway lunar space station. Russia and other current ISS partners may join in [popsci.com]. Lockheed Martin's plan [wikipedia.org] would have (NASA) astronauts orbiting Mars around 2028, a bit more ambitious than NASA's current estimate. I think we all know that will slip into the 2030s.

    By comparison, SpaceX plans to land humans on Mars by 2024 [wikipedia.org]. I think that date is likely to slip, but it's the most aggressive plan of them all.

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