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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Journey to Mars and Beyond | Mexico IAC Conference at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.September 27, 2016
Elon Musk Unveils His Plan For Colonizing Mars

Boeing CEO Vows to Beat Musk to Mars

by Julie Johnsson
October 4, 2016 — 3:23 PM EDT

Boeing Co. once helped the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the race to the moon. Now the company intends to go toe-to-toe with newcomers such as billionaire Elon Musk in the next era of space exploration and commerce.

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg sketched out a Jetsons-like future at a conference Tuesday, envisioning a commercial space-travel market with dozens of destinations orbiting the Earth and hypersonic aircraft shuttling travelers between continents in two hours or less. And Boeing intends to be a key player in the initial push to send humans to Mars, maybe even beating Musk to his long-time goal.

“I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said at the Chicago event on innovation, which was sponsored by the Atlantic magazine.

Like Musk’s SpaceX, Boeing is focused on building out the commercial space sector near earth as spaceflight becomes more routine, while developing technology to venture far beyond the moon. The Chicago-based aerospace giant is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop a heavy-lift rocket called the Space Launch System for deep space exploration. Boeing and SpaceX are also the first commercial companies NASA selected to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Mars Transport

Musk last week welcomed competitors as he unveiled a SpaceX craft that would dwarf the workhorse of Apollo missions of a half-century ago, hauling 100 travelers to Mars with cruise-ship-style amenities.

“The goal of SpaceX really is to build the transport system. It’s like building the Union Pacific railroad,” Musk told a space conference, as he laid out a plan to bring travel to Mars to a mass market with tickets priced one day as low as $100,000.

Boeing built the first stage for the Saturn V, the most powerful U.S. rocket ever built, which took men to the moon. Nowadays, Muilenburg sees space tourism closer to home “blossoming over the next couple of decades into a viable commercial market.” The International Space Station could be joined in low-earth orbit by dozens of hotels and companies pursuing micro-gravity manufacturing and research, he said.

“I think it’s a fascinating area for us,” he said.

Muilenburg said Boeing will make spacecraft for the new era of tourists. He also sees potential for hypersonic aircraft, traveling at upwards of three times the speed of sound.

Science Fiction

Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. are among the space heavyweights developing experimental aircraft that could fly U.S. travelers at speeds right out of a science fiction movie.

Lockheed’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 is being designed to zip through the sky at Mach 20 (about 13,000 miles per hour), flying between New York and Los Angeles in 12 minutes. Boeing’s X-51A WaveRider, which relied on its own shock waves for compression lift, reached Mach 5.1 in 2013.

Costs will need to drop substantially before these experimental spacecraft can be seriously considered for commercial use, Muilenburg said.

“That business model isn’t closed yet. At some point it will,” he said. “The future of innovation has to include not only the technology, but economic viability.”

SpaceX Tests Huge Fuel Tank for Mars Colony Spaceship (Photo)


By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer | November 18, 2016 07:00am ET
SpaceX tows the prototype carbon-fiber fuel tank for its crewed Mars spaceship out to sea for pressure tests in November 2016.

SpaceX has successfully tested a prototype of the gigantic fuel tank the company is developing for its planned Mars spaceship, company representatives said.

SpaceX towed the full-size carbon-fiber tank — the largest such vessel ever produced, according to company founder and CEO Elon Musk — out to sea on a barge last week, then tested how the tank performed under pressure.

"Hit both of our pressure targets — next up will be full cryo[genic] testing," SpaceX wrote via Twitter, where the company posts as @SpaceX. [SpaceX's Mars Colony Ship in Images]


The enormous tank is a key component of SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), the reusable rocket-spaceship combo the company is developing to take people to and from Mars. Such tanks will house propellant for the Raptor engines that will power both the rocket and the spaceship.

The Raptor, which is also in development, will run on methane and liquid oxygen, both of which SpaceX plans to produce on Mars, Musk has said.

Prototype of SpaceX's huge carbon-fiber propellant tank, which the company will use in its planned Mars spaceship.
SpaceX aims to launch an uncrewed Mars mission as early as 2018, using the company's Falcon Heavy rocket and Dragon capsule. The Dragon will attempt to land on the Red Planet, to test out technologies that will help get the ITS spaceships down safely.

If everything goes well, the first ITS mission could launch as early as 2024, Musk has said. Many more missions could follow in short order; during the unveiling of the ITS architecture in September, Musk said he aims to help establish a million-person city on Mars within the next 50 to 100 years. (Each ITS spaceship will be capable of transporting 100 to 200 people at a time, Musk said.)

Mars colonization is a long-standing goal of Musk's. The billionaire has repeatedly said that he started SpaceX back in 2002 primarily to help make humanity a multiplanet species.

SpaceX Pushes Back Red Dragon Mission to Mars by 2 Years

February 18, 2017 Doug Messier

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company would delay its 2018 Red Dragon mission to Mars at least two years to better focus its resources on two programs that a running significantly behind schedule.

“We were focused on 2018, but we felt like we needed to put more resources and focus more heavily on our crew program and our Falcon Heavy program,” Shotwell said at a pre-launch press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida. “So we’re looking more for the 2020 timeframe for that.”

The mission will land a modified Dragon spacecraft on the martian surface. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he planned to launch Dragons to the surface every two years beginning in 2018, culminating in a crewed mission in 2024.

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO)  report says that both SpaceX and Boeing are running increasingly behind schedule in developing their commercial crew vehicles, which are designed to take astronauts to the International Space Station. Both programs are years behind schedule due to a combination of under funding, technical problems and bureaucratic delays at NASA.

The GAO report concludes that it’s unlikely that either company would be ready to fly astronauts to the station on a commercial basis before 2019. Each contractor must fly two flight tests to the space station — one with crew, one without — and have its vehicle certified before flying astronauts for NASA.

Shotwell expressed confidence that SpaceX would complete the flight tests and begin flying NASA astronauts in 2018. On Twitter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote, “Provided Dragon 2 demo missions go well, SpaceX is highly confident of being able to fly US astronauts in 2018.”

Neither Shotwell nor Musk addressed any of the specific concerns expressed in the GAO report. They might be right, but Musk’s history of perpetual optimism on schedules and SpaceX’s constant delays — – problems the billionaire has acknowledged — raise doubts. They expressed confidence in Crew Dragon even as the company announced a delay in its Mars mission and prepared to launch a delayed resupply flight to the space station on Saturday.

The Falcon Heavy — which has three Falcon 9 core boosters as its first stage — is running about four years behind schedule. SpaceX is planning an inaugural flight test this year with a second flight by the end of the year.

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