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10/05/2016 05:00 pm ET

Elon Musk's SpaceX Has Company In The Race To Mars

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Jim Young/Reuters
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg announced his company will reach Mars before SpaceX does.

Just when you thought Elon Musk’s plan for putting humans on Mars seemed ambitious, or even far-fetched, the world’s largest aerospace company has promised to get there first.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg didn’t say whether his company planned to beat SpaceX’s target date of 2025, only that it would reach Earth’s planetary neighbor before Musk’s SpaceX does.

“I am convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said Tuesday at an innovation conference in Chicago.

And just like that, the race for Mars is on.

Muilenburg’s comments come one week after Musk unveiled plans to make humans a “multi-planet species.”

Musk hopes to eventually build a self-sustainable Martian colony of 1 million people by building a massive “Interplanetary Transport System.” Like something out of a science fiction film, giant spaceships would shuttle upward of 100 people ― perhaps many more in the future ― plus luggage and other cargo to and from the red planet.

It is clear Musk is serious about getting to Mars. In fact, in his announcement last week he said his main motivation for accumulating assets is to make the biggest contribution possible toward becoming interplanetary. 

As for timelines, however, Musk admitted he’s “not the best at this sort of thing.” 

Boeing is working with NASA to build a new, powerful rocket. Known as the Space Launch System, or SLS, it is designed for deep space missions, including Mars and beyond. 

According to goals outlined in the U.S. National Space Policy, NASA hopes to send astronauts to Mars at some point in the 2030s. 

In addition to Boeing’s planned victory in the Mars race, Muilenburg said Tuesday that he envisions the company making incredible technological advances over the coming decades, including supersonic and hypersonic travel and commercial low-Earth orbit space travel.

“Over the last 100 years, it’s remarkable to think about, men and women went from walking on the Earth to walking on the moon. We went from riding horses to flying airplanes,” he said. “When I look ahead to the next century, I think the opportunity for innovation and big change is even greater, even bolder.”

If Boeing’s success in helping the U.S. be the first to put men on the moon is any indication, the company may just beat Musk after all.

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