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Boeing CEO Vows To Beat Elon Musk To Mars (bloomberg.com) 254

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: 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. 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. 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.
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Boeing CEO Vows To Beat Elon Musk To Mars

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  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @02:17AM (#53015783) Homepage Journal

    Having a plan to survive interruptions in logistical support is literally a matter of life and death -- not just for interplanetary settlers, but even for ones just crossing an ocean [wikipedia.org]. Rushing things when the support services are not yet developed is not exactly a safe plan. Bold, certainly, but quite possibly bordering on suicidal.

    • This is about advertising via bombastic hyperbole, nothing more.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @02:41AM (#53015817) Homepage

        Nope, this represent a major seismic shift in corporate ideology, a humanity saving shift. That shift is the change from a war industrial complex to a space industrial complex. Instead of turning in on ourselves in a egoistic orgy of self destruction through war for profit, that energy is finally starting to shift out into space. Instead of glorifying mass murder and the most brutal engines of destruction, that energy will be focused on better space craft, a full fledged Lunar City, colonies in space and even terra forming mars and that is just the start with hints already coming out about how to get past the FTL barrier. So a change that should be celebrated in every home, a shift from end of the species war to extinction to becoming a galactic species.

        Likely many are just way to shallow, self centred and narcissistic to appreciate things which benefit humanity as a whole, they quite simply can not see it because it is never reflected in the mirrors they stare at every day of their lives.

        • So a change that should be celebrated in every home, a shift from end of the species war to extinction to becoming a galactic species.

          Great - now all we have to do is spend 2% of GDP on it.

        • I've noticed that there are a lot of people on Slashdot who read too much science fiction. Instead of fixing local problems, people get wrapped up in tech porn. It's almost like they escape problems here by thinking of grandiose plans in space and imagine that they will solve anything. If your dog covers your back yard in shit, you clean it up, not buy a new house.
          • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @08:43AM (#53016807)

            Instead of fixing local problems, people get wrapped up in tech porn.

            And they have forever. And that's actually a good thing. Those ships that brought most people's ancestors to where they live now are technology. Wagons are technology. You have to deal with it that not all people are stuck in the mud.

            It's almost like they escape problems here by thinking of grandiose plans in space and imagine that they will solve anything.

            Wanderlust is an integral part of the human experience. Not everyone has it, but aside from people who might be fleeing overcrowding or lack of opportunity, it is something rooted in their psyche. We are not trying to solve anything, we are just doing what we do. It's the difference between someone who wants to go to the Grand Canyon for the experience, and someone who wonders why anyone is interested in a big ditch

            This isn't even an indictment of you. There is a very big place for people who resist change, and don't like risk. The world also badly needs adventurists, people who strike out towards something new.

            In the end, all practical matters aside, a lot of people are interested in going to Mars, even as a one-way trip. Others are happy to not ever venture out of the city the live in. Its just how people act.

            • by g01d4 ( 888748 )

              Those ships that brought most people's ancestors to where they live now are technology.

              And they were built for economic profit. If the same were true of manned space travel we'd have a colony on the moon by now. "Wanderlust" already takes us to the extreme points of our planet and boundaries of the solar system.

          • What are you doing to contribute to the solving of our terrestrial problems?

        • Nope, this represent a major seismic shift in corporate ideology, a humanity saving shift. That shift is the change from a war industrial complex to a space industrial complex. Instead of turning in on ourselves in a egoistic orgy of self destruction through war for profit, that energy is finally starting to shift out into space. Instead of glorifying mass murder and the most brutal engines of destruction, that energy will be focused on better space craft, a full fledged Lunar City, colonies in space and even terra forming mars and that is just the start with hints already coming out about how to get past the FTL barrier. So a change that should be celebrated in every home, a shift from end of the species war to extinction to becoming a galactic species.

          Likely many are just way to shallow, self centred and narcissistic to appreciate things which benefit humanity as a whole, they quite simply can not see it because it is never reflected in the mirrors they stare at every day of their lives.

          That's a nice story, but I'll believe this when you figure out a way to remove the warmongering gene from the human race.

          Look back at one of the most amazing space achievements in human history. We put a man on the moon. And yet even that didn't do jack shit to stop the conflict in Vietnam, which raged on for many years after. I fail to see how another space race would ever change the war-for-profit mentality. Man would have to sacrifice Greed and Control, and that will never happen. Thousands of years

        • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @08:29AM (#53016751)

          Instead of glorifying mass murder and the most brutal engines of destruction.

          This part of our history will serve us well when we encounter other species.

        • Nope, this represent a major seismic shift in corporate ideology, a humanity saving shift. That shift is the change from a war industrial complex to a space industrial complex.

          Yep. I'm sure that ISIS will give up the whole "kill everybody who isn't our kind of Muslim" thing any day now so that they can join the space industrial complex.

  • by klik ( 93694 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @02:29AM (#53015803)

    and Elons plan is working perfectly. he cant build all the necessary tech and infrastructure himself. trigger a space race and the tech WILL get developed by a multitude of startups for those specific needs. It's a a sensible method!

    Klik

  • Musk is way ahead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @03:13AM (#53015909)
    Musk announced SpaceX will try to get something to Mars every other year for the next 20 years.I'm not saying Boeing doesn't have the engineering talent but I seriously doubt it has the will to beat Musk to Mars. Musk said, this is what we're doing, this is when, and this is how. Boeing said, over the next few decades we're going to put tourists in earth orbit. There isn't even a competition at this point.
    • Musk announced SpaceX will try to get something to Mars every other year for the next 20 years.I'm not saying Boeing doesn't have the engineering talent but I seriously doubt it has the will to beat Musk to Mars. Musk said, this is what we're doing, this is when, and this is how. Boeing said, over the next few decades we're going to put tourists in earth orbit. There isn't even a competition at this point.

      And you base these facts off the grandstanding arrogance of a billionaire vs. a company with a proven track record of space exploration?

      If you think having the "will" is all it takes to be successful, then neither Boeing or SpaceX will be first. North Korea will beat us all.

      • He doesn't just have the will, he has the talent, the production facilities, the engine, the launch pad, the plans for the vehicle, the materials, they've already made the first development fuel tank.

        Boeing have nothing. They're barely even supporting development of the Vulcan. They'll have nothing and do nothing until NASA decide they want to go to Mars and contract stuff out to Boeing, and that will only happen with Congressional support. It might never happen.

    • China plans to reach Mars by 2020 and build a moon base.
      Russia will put men on moon by 2030.

      ALL of it (the US claims included) is bullshittery until we at least see the first heavy-lift rocket put a load into high orbit.

  • Boeing CEO Vows To Beat Elon Musk

    Bang! Zoom! Right to the... Mars.

  • by ctrl-alt-canc ( 977108 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @04:46AM (#53016087)
    ...we could send all the CEOs to Mars, maybe we couldn't set up a colony there, but for sure we would make the Earth a better place where to live.
  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @05:04AM (#53016119) Homepage Journal

    1. The Boeing that, indeed, did build the Saturn V first stage was not nowadays Boeing. The former was much smaller, more agile ("agile" not in the software engineering sense, but in the common dictionary sense).

    2. Boeing is indeed heavily involved in the SLS program. That program's pace, however, is set by NASA, whereas Musk's SpaceX, being a virtual start-up, sets its own and dramatically different pace.

    This is not to say that Boeing could not or should not be involved in what might became a "race toward Mars". I am, however, calling bullshit on the Saturn V and SLS arguments.

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )

      the SLS program. That program's pace, however, is set by NASA,

      Correction: That program's pace is set by Congress. Congress set the milestones in the appropriations. Congress at the same time appropriated only a fraction of the money needed to make those milestones. If people are whinging about how SLS will take longer to get off the ground than Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo combined, one can start by examining the amount of money devoted to each of those programs.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @05:12AM (#53016137)
    Boeing/Lockheed/ULA is a textbook example of an inefficient entrenched monopoly. They are for all intents and purposes a part of the federal government. The revolving door means that after a stint at NASA or the USAF people side over to ULA and do the identical job. They end up with two pensions and nobody rocks the boat.

    A telltale symptom is the mind boggling stagnation in rocket technology. Look at main lift engine development: ULA is using Russian engines designed in the cold war. The rocket cartel hasn't invested a dime in big lift vehicles since the early 90's.

    It took two outsiders, Musk and Bezos, to inject life into the US space sector. They were both technologists with no ties to aerospace. They independently realized that new booster technology was the key to 21st century space flight, manned or unmanned. They both spent their own money to build new rockets from scratch. Yes, they got federal funding, but they spent a lot more then that. (ULA has been developing new upper stage rockets, but that is a much smaller effort then building a new launch system from scratch.)

    When ULA woke up and realized they were at least six years behind SpaceX in engine design, they went to Blue Origin. Their next generation main lift stage will based on the Blue Origin design. [washingtonpost.com] That's called being asleep at the switch.

    Don't start whining about NASA, feel sorry for them. They are constrained by politics and budgets. If Congress only gave them rubber band and paper clip money they would still be making a valiant effort to get into space somehow.

    Speaking of Congress, ten House Republicans are trying to squash SpaceX. [washingtonpost.com] They claim to be "greatly concerned" about the recent pad explosion and want the USAF and NASA to cut SpaceX off. What they are actually doing is shilling for ULA. Who gives a rat's ass about US technological leadership or actual capitalism when there are campaign contributions and jobs to protect in their districts? Congress are the real jokers behind the rocket cartel.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      House Republicans have a fiduciary responsibility to their investors!

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Meanwhile, 24 members of congress [latimes.com] wrote a counter-letter :)

      • Meanwhile, 24 members of congress [latimes.com] wrote a counter-letter :)

        Led by a Republican, by the way.

        The fact is that we are again seeing the free market beating government cronies.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          To be clear:

            * The letter against SpaceX was signed by 10 people, all of them Republicans

            * The letter supporting SpaceX was signed by 24 people: 11 Republicans and 13 Democrats

          So I'm not sure how you're turning this into some commentary about Republican support for free markets, because honestly it looks like the opposite.

    • When ULA woke up and realized they were at least six years behind SpaceX in engine design, they went to Blue Origin. Their next generation main lift stage will based on the Blue Origin design. [washingtonpost.com] That's called being asleep at the switch.

      Is that any different from Google buying Keyhole and Quest Visual, which became Google Earth and the Google Translate camera feature? Why expect one company to have all the new and great ideas?

      • Why would you expect a rocket company to design its own rockets, instead of getting them from a shopkeeper?

  • "...we'll take pot shots at their rockets from our rooftop while they're refueling them. (Oops! Did I say that out loud?)"

  • While I can understand the attraction in jetting people across continents at very fast speeds (even though we've seem to forgotten we abandoned that 40-year old technology when we retired the Concorde), I fail to see this whole commercial "race" to Mars.

    Attention Martian vacation peddlers; How about you start with proving you can safely navigate through our man-made asteroid belt of space junk before you start bullshitting investors about Martian getaways.

  • What worries me is how sure he is they will be the first. I read another article about the person heading up the same program at NASA (can't recall her name right off, sorry) and she said pretty much the same thing -- absolutely positive they would be there first. Now, their time line puts that is the 2030s. That's behind SpaceX's schedule, so unless they know something....

  • Good luck with that. Today's Boeing isn't the same company that built rockets in the 1960s, so although that nostalgia is nice, it has nothing to do with Boeing's current potential.
  • They don't have any rockets.
    Even if he's considering ULA's rockets being nominally Boeing's, they're shutting down production of the Delta IV family, the Atlas V is on shaky ground with its Russian engines, and is supposed to be discontinued when the Vulcan starts flying, the development of which they are underfunding and as it stands, even when it's done, would probably not even be competitive with SpaceX's current Falcon 9.

    Or are they planning to buy out LockMart's half of ULA, or compete with their own subsidiary with an undisclosed rocket design?

  • by Junior Samples ( 550792 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @08:59AM (#53016881)

    http://www.drboylan.com/xplane... [drboylan.com]

    The TR3-B 'Astra' is a large triangular anti-gravity craft within the secret U.S. fleet. Black-projects defense industry insider Edgar Rothschild Fouche wrote about the existence of the TR3-B in his book Alien Rapture(10).

    The TR3-B does not depend solely or principally on its hydrogen-oxygen rockets. It is a highly-reduced-gravity aerospace craft manufactured in secret "black programs" by Boeing. The reduced-gravity field it produces reduces the vehicle's weight by about 90% so that very little thrust is required to either keep it aloft or to propel it at speeds of Mach 9 or higher.

    The TR-3B vehicle's outer coating is electrochemical-reactive and changes with electrical radio-frequency radar stimulation, and can change reflectiveness, radar absorptiveness, and color. This is also the first US vehicle to use quasi-crystals in the vehicle's skin. This polymer skin, when used in conjunction with the TR-3B's Electronic Counter Measures and Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM), can make the vehicle look like a small aircraft, or a flying cylinder - or even trick radar receivers into falsely detecting a variety of aircraft, no aircraft, or several aircraft at various locations!

    A circular plasma-filled accelerator ring called the Magnetic Field Disrupter surrounds the rotable crew compartment and is far ahead of any imaginable technology. Sandia and Livermore National laboratories developed the reverse-engineered MFD technology. The plasma, mercury-based, is pressurized at 250,000 atmospheres at a temperature of 150 degrees Kelvin, and accelerated to 50,000 rpm to create a super-conductive plasma with resulting gravity-disruption [reduction of almost all of the pull of gravity and effects of inertia].

    The MFD generates a magnetic-vortex field which disrupts or neutralizes the effects of gravity by 89 percent on a mass within proximity. The MFD creates a disruption of the Earth's gravitational field upon the mass within the circular accelerator. The mass of the circular accelerator and all mass within the accelerator, such as the crew capsule, avionics, MFD systems, fuels, crew environmental systems, and the nuclear reactor, are reduced by 89%. The current MFD in the TR-3B craft causes the effect of making the vehicle extremely light, and able to outperform and outmaneuver any craft yet constructed - except of course those back-engineered total-antigravity craft, which the government does not admit exist.

    The TR-3B is a high-altitude, stealth reconnaissance platform with an indefinite loiter time. Once you get it up there at speed, it doesn't take much propulsion to maintain altitude.

    With the vehicle mass reduced by 89%, the craft can travel at Mach 9 vertically or horizontally. My sources say the performance is limited only the stresses that the human pilots can endure. Which is a lot of reduction, considering that along with the 89% reduction in mass, the inertial G forces are also reduced by 89%. The crew of the TR-3B can comfortably take up to 40Gs.

    The TR-3Bs propulsion is provided by three multimode thrusters mounted at each bottom corner of the triangular platform. The TR-3 is a sub-Mach 9 vehicle until it reaches altitudes above l20,000 feet - then who knows how fast it can go!

    The reactor heats the liquid hydrogen and injects liquid oxygen into the supersonic nozzle, so that the hydrogen burns concurrently in the liquid- oxygen afterburner. The multimode propulsion system can operate in the atmosphere, with thrust from the Magnetic Field Disrupter powered by the nuclear reactor; in the upper atmosphere, with hydrogen propulsion; and in orbit, with the combined hydrogen/oxygen propulsion. The engines are reportedly built by Rockwell.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @09:17AM (#53016985)

    "I'm convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,"

    Informing people that you are deluded isn't the best idea. ;)

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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