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Mars Space Businesses NASA

Boeing CEO Says Boeing Will Beat SpaceX To Mars (space.com) 128

Boeing's CEO says the megarocket his company is helping to build for NASA will deliver astronauts to the Red Planet before billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX. Space.com reports: According to Fortune, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was speaking on CNBC today when host Jim Cramer asked whether Boeing or SpaceX would "get a man on Mars first." "Eventually we're going to go to Mars, and I firmly believe the first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket," Muilenburg said, according to Fortune. Boeing is the main contractor for the first stage of NASA's giant Space Launch System , which is designed to launch astronauts on deep-space missions using the space agency's new Orion spacecraft. (United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne are also SLS contractors.) NASA hopes to build a "Deep Space Gateway" near the moon before using SLS and Orion vehicles to send explorers to Mars. The first test launch is scheduled for 2019. "Do it," Musk tweeted.
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Boeing CEO Says Boeing Will Beat SpaceX To Mars

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  • Meh. M. E. H. Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Friday December 08, 2017 @02:02AM (#55700135)

    Boeing is just "baiting" Musk to spend a lot of time and money on Mars because they - and the rest of the United Space Alliance - are feeling the hurt of all SpaceX's recent successful satellite launches.

    • by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @05:51AM (#55700479)

      It's unlikely to happen, but even if Boeing does beat SpaceX to Mars, I'm sure Elon won't mind one bit. His mission was to get mankind to colonize Mars. If Boeing does it, his mission will be accomplished. Without SpaceX, there wouldn't be nearly as much pressure on companies like Boeing to get there and the mission would keep getting postponed as it has been for decades.

      Same for electric cars: of course he wants Tesla to win, but even if competitors drive Tesla out of business with better electric cars, his goal of accelerating the advent of electric cars will have been accomplished. He's actually encouraging other car makers to go electric.

      Why did he start a tunnel boring company? Because he was sick and tired of being stuck in traffic and nobody was doing anything about it. He doesn't care if he makes money, he just wants to get rid of traffic jams.

      • Why did he start a tunnel boring company? Because he was sick and tired of being stuck in traffic and nobody was doing anything about it. He doesn't care if he makes money, he just wants to get rid of traffic jams.

        Well he should combine his first two ventures and give us the flying car.

        • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
          As long as he can figure out autopilot (like a real actual autopilot). It's 2017 and people still haven't figured out how to merge onto a freeway, no way in hell I'd trust 90% of the people on the road today to fly a car.
        • That's why he's launching a Roadster on the Falcon Heavy.

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        "It's unlikely to happen,"

        Agreed. Its mainly a human survival (physical and mental) problem, not a launcher problem.

        "Because he was sick and tired of being stuck in traffic and nobody was doing anything about it."

        Perhaps Musk is from Mars, because people did something about it in the 19th century here on Earth - they're called underground metro systems. He should try riding one sometime.

        • Perhaps Musk is from Mars, because people did something about it in the 19th century here on Earth - they're called underground metro systems. He should try riding one sometime.

          From Hawthorne to LA?

          • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

            There's decent overground passenger rail too in civilised countries. This might not include some parts of the USA.

            • by F34nor ( 321515 )

              This is missing the point about American rail traffic. America moves freight on rail and it is a far better choice than moving people. Sure it would be nice if America had better passenger rail but not at the expense of freight. The Economist had a great article about it a couple of years ago.

          • Tunnels have been built before the Boring Company. That venture is about making them easier and less costly to build so we can feasibly make more of them.
        • Perhaps Musk is from Mars, because people did something about it in the 19th century here on Earth - they're called underground metro systems. He should try riding one sometime.

          But if there's not an underground system where he wants to go, someone would have to build one first.

          Oh, wait ...

          • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

            Sure, build a metro, not some multi billion dollar evacuated tube that will apparently do 700mph. I think he's read too many jules verne novels.

            • The proposed underground Loop system doesn't use an evacuated tube, that's the basically unrelated Hyperloop system - which was originally proposed for above ground use, but could admittedly benefit dramatically from the straight-line potential of tunnels.

              Loop proposes what is basically an underground highway populated by fully automated "flatbed" vehicles designed to ferry normal cars, as well as passenger and cargo pods, between stations. Given a dedicated highway without any human, animal, or other unex

              • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

                "Think subway functionality, with far more flexibility since individual cars can join and leave trains at full speed"

                So basically its just a very expensive automated highway. I'm sure it looks great in an episode of the Jetsons. I've a better idea, save the money and improve the road system to people can drive their vehicles faster on it. Or if people don't want to drive they can get a taxi.

                Odd how these people invent overpriced solutions for problems that were solved 150 years ago.

                • Basically, as far as implementation is concerned. As used, far more similar to a combination of subways, buses, and other forms of mass-transit I suspect. And there's very little "just" about a fully automated highway - automation removes the vast majority of problems with highways, allowing them to potentially outperform even well-run railway systems, with lower initial infrastructure costs (not counting the not strictly necessary tunnels), and far more scalable capacity (as adding additional cars is far

            • small vacuum tubes are already used by banks, they work well.

              add in a maglev train and this becomes worthwhile.

              The hyperloop is not a cheap project, but it might be affordable
              in comparison vs. a atmosphere very slowly becoming like venus.

              At some point with Maglev and no friction due to it being a vacuum tube
              the energy savings are going to make it worthwhile.

              Research what the total cost of all the commercial airline fleets are,
              adding in their fuel costs, maintenance costs, etc etc...

        • Robot landers have been to mars, need to make robots that can repair each other and 3d print new parts.

          Once you get self repairing robots sent to mars they can mine out a radiation free tunnel system.

          Once it has a underground greenhouse established, human survival is viable there long term.

          I'd make separate tunnel systems to avoid the "all eggs in one basket" issue.

          For power on mars I lean towards a LFTR reactor as tested at ORNL in the 1960's.

          I think they proved sub surface water on mars so that solves tha

      • It's unlikely to happen, but even if Boeing does beat SpaceX to Mars, I'm sure Elon won't mind one bit. His mission was to get mankind to colonize Mars. If Boeing does it, his mission will be accomplished. Without SpaceX, there wouldn't be nearly as much pressure on companies like Boeing to get there and the mission would keep getting postponed as it has been for decades.

        Same for electric cars: of course he wants Tesla to win, but even if competitors drive Tesla out of business with better electric cars, his goal of accelerating the advent of electric cars will have been accomplished. He's actually encouraging other car makers to go electric.

        Why did he start a tunnel boring company? Because he was sick and tired of being stuck in traffic and nobody was doing anything about it. He doesn't care if he makes money, he just wants to get rid of traffic jams.

        On the one hand, I want to say, "What a marketing genius!" He wins if he wins, he wins if he loses.

        On the other hand, assuming he doesn't have to make money, that shouldn't present itself as an advantage over government ventures. That's been their strength all along. Musk's fundamental addition has been motivation.

        I'm just encouraged someone is in a Space Race again!

      • >Why did he start a tunnel boring company? Because he was sick and tired of being stuck in traffic and nobody was doing anything about it. He doesn't care if he makes money, he just wants to get rid of traffic jams.

        I have trouble believing Musk personally worries about traffic jams. He must have his own helicopter and pilot by now, along with helipads wherever he wants to go.

        If he really started the Boring Company to fix traffic jams... he's in for a big disappointment. Traffic flow studies show that t

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          I believe one of the points of his boring infrastructure is that it's not just a tunnel, or even a 2D network of tunnels, but a 3D network of tunnels. If you fill the capacity, you build more tunnels deeper. Keeping in mind that the entire premise of the boring company is to take advantage of what you might be able to do if you can achieve an order of magnitude or more reduction in the cost of boring.

          Musk has to regularly commute between LA (SpaceX) and Tesla (San Francisco). Multiple times a week, IIRC. Th

        • Traffic flow studies show that traffic expands to clog the available capacity.

          That's a myth. In the Netherlands, they've had traffic jams for decades between Rotterdam and Amsterdam because environmental lobbies kept saying that more lanes would only attract more traffic, Finally a right wing government decided to add more lanes anyway, and guess what? Drastically reduced traffic jams! Who would have thunk?

          • For how long? It will generally take years, possibly decades, for traffic patterns to adapt to re-clog to available corridors. The difference between looking at immediate gains, and long-term trends. Both have their place.

            • The thing about conservatives is that they don't like thinking long term. They're mainly old people, so they don't have any vested interest in the future.

        • If you were allowing humans on the road, then probably yes. But his plan is for roads dedicated entirely to automated vehicles, which can be made almost impervious to traffic jams. The solutions are actually quite simple - ants use them all the time, but humans are *really* bad about prioritizing their own progress above the smooth flow of traffic, with the result that everyone slows down, themselves included.

          Rule 1: Every individual strives to remain equidistant between those in front of and behind them

      • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

        When you don't care about making money, you don't become a billionnaire. I'll let you find the fatal flaw in your arguments.

      • He doesn't care if he makes money, he just wants to get rid of traffic jams.

        Of course he cares about making money - profit is a price-mechanism signal that value is being provided to consumers.

        It just so happens when you do useful things for mankind, and you do them well, that you make profit. I do assume that he's not making money for the sake of making money, but he better be intent on making money if he wants to do a good job.

      • This isn't Boeing talking about launching a private mission to Mars. This is Boeing talking about NASA's mission to Mars. The default assumption has always been that NASA would make it to Mars first, and NASA's rocket happens to be built by Boeing. So Boeing's assertion is not controversial -- it's Musk's assertion that SpaceX will beat NASA to Mars which is more surprising (but well-discussed by this point).

        As for SpaceX putting pressure on Boeing to reach Mars... no. Boeing's only Mars pressure comes from

    • Boeing is just "baiting" Musk to spend a lot of time and money on Mars because they - and the rest of the United Space Alliance - are feeling the hurt of all SpaceX's recent successful satellite launches.

      So your theory is that Boeing is baiting Musk to spend money on Mars because they find that he's too competitive? How competitive do you think it will make him when he demonstrates the ability to get to Mars? Do you think he will fail? All evidence so far suggests you are wrong in that case.

      • Your parent thinks that SpaceX/Elon will overstretch their resources and fail on that level,and Boing remains.
        It is not a question of technology but money, how you spend it and how you earn it.

        However I have confidence in Elon.

    • Not just their recent launches. SpaceX has a jam-packed launch manifest for the next few years.
    • If one reviews the historical record, several groups have gone to Mars already, and some have left various artifacts on its surface. But the one thing that no one has done is fly a car around Mars and bring the car back. That's what I call, "Showmanship." Maybe Boeing should consider pounding sand?
  • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @02:05AM (#55700141) Homepage

    Yeah, just like Boeing was the first to develop reusable first stages for orbital class launchers... /s

    • Boeing didn't need to do that because the United Launch Alliance - Boeing and Lockheed - had a monopoly on launches and so it didn't need to improve anything.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Now Musk is competing with them they're under a bit more pressure. Competition is a good thing.

      In fact the only reason the US got to the moon was because of competition with the USSR. Post Cold War the US stopped doing manned space flight above LEO, and so did everyone else.

      https://www.quora.com/Why-have... [quora.com]

      (Almost) anyt

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Yeah, just like Boeing was the first to develop reusable first stages for orbital class launchers... /s

      Bah, Boeing probably regrets not being able to boast about the secret missions to Mar they have already done.

    • Not to mention that if Boeing wants people to get to Mars on a Boeing rocket, building first stages won't help them unless Mars lies somewhere deep in the Atlantic.
    • by Ayano ( 4882157 )
      You mean boeing was first to secure lucrative contracts from the Gov, then got fat and lazy. Them and Lockheed both.
    • Neither was SpaceX. Do you remember a little vehicle called the Space Shuttle? The only component that wasn't reused was the external fuel tank.
      • by phayes ( 202222 )

        The Space Shuttle you say? That's the program that cost 192 BILLION dollars in 2010 dollars for 132 total missions, isn't it? Doesn't that make Shuttle per launch costs 1.5 billion dollars, I say ONE POINT FIVE BILLION DOLLARS? And wasn't the Space Shuttle largely re-manufactured every launch with extensive work being done on the tiles and all the rocket motors needing to be totally disassembled, qualified and rebuilt? Isn't it true that re-using the boosters actually cost more money than just building new

        • All that may be true. It wasn't cheap. It didn't have fast turn around. But it was still the first orbital class launcher to have a reusable first stage. All back when Elon Musk was still watching cartoons in his underoos.
          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            The cost of STS was beyond exorbitant, hobbling NASA's manned missions to low earth orbit by beggaring the rest of NASA's budget and may yet doom NASA unless a stake is at last put into the heart of SLS.

            We need to bury that past or kiss another 50 years off mankind's hopes to expand beyond a single planet.

            • You're pretty cocky for someone who is clearly wrong, but refuses to admit it and keeps arguing anyway.
              • by phayes ( 202222 )

                Snort, Sure sport, but what exactly did is it your opinion that I got wrong, hmm? Be precise so that we can all enjoy your antics busily moving goalposts at what you've already admitted was true earlier.

                • Space History for $100: This was the first orbital class launcher to have a reusable first stage.
                  • by phayes ( 202222 )

                    That's the wrong category Alex, the correct category was: Taxpayer funded boondoggles .

                    Had the objective been to spend hundreds of billions of dollars with as little as possible to show for it SLS was the champion, closely followed by STS which though it has cost less so far, has achieved even less.

                    Here's a quandary for you: In 5 years, when Space-X is lofting 150 tons for under $50 million per launch on a 100% reusable BFR with absolutely no heritage from SLS what will SLS's legacy be?

                    Yup, the less obtuse

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2017 @02:06AM (#55700145)

    "Do it"

    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
      Wow. Seems like the mods are lazy today. +4 insightful for copying two words from the summary.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The only way anyone can do a manned Mars mission before 2027 is it is self-funded. NASA has no ability to commit such a large project. Has Boeing committed non-NASA funding for this? I didn't see any mention of it in their announcement.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @02:27AM (#55700169)

    What else is the Boeing CEO going to say, that SpaceX is going to beat them???

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Exactly. And if he can keep the pork flowing through Congress, he might actually be right. It's not like SpaceX is the first company to create rockets, Boeing is fully capable of creating the Saturn V Mark II and for a ridiculous number of billions it would work for a Mars mission. It would become an Apollo class "been there, done that, let's not go back again for 50 years" kind of deal like with the moon. I don't think this is to bait Musk, he's pretty determined to go anyway and the means of bringing the

  • First In Pork (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @02:28AM (#55700171)

    Uh huh. If there are no delays, the SLS will be sent on its first Mars mission TEN YEARS after SpaceX is planning on sending humans to Mars. Not like SpaceX has never seen delays... but the question really becomes, who is better known for worse delays: Boeing, or SpaceX? OTOH if a private enterprise beats ALL governments to landing a human on Mars, that'd be a pretty big black eye for those other space programs with ostensibly larger budgets, authority and reach.

    • Not like SpaceX has never seen delays... but the question really becomes, who is better known for worse delays: Boeing, or SpaceX?

      It can only be Boeing [michelbaudin.com]. Perhaps they should work to avoid such comparisons in the future.

    • that'd be a pretty big black eye for those other space programs with ostensibly larger budgets, authority and reach.

      Not really. Since the 1960's the goal of government space programmes has never been to get more people / things into space. (excluding of course things)

      It has been a political tool to disburse money. Nothing more. If things or people actually got into space on a government rocket - well, that was nice. But it was purely incidental.

      SpaceX is succeeding because it is the first entity - probably ever - to have had a commercial interest in pushing the boundaries. in 60 years (and 2 wars) the aircraft indus

    • To me the big question with BFR is who is going to pay for it's development? Will spacex make enough profit on F9/FH launches to pay for BFR? will they be able to convince NASA to fund it despite it directly competing with one of NASAs existing projects?

    • Is SLS even powerful enough for manned Mars missions? It doesn't have any landing vehicles or any way of getting back to Earth.

  • by aklinux ( 1318095 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @02:36AM (#55700191) Homepage
    Nothing like a little competion to inspire progress.
    • You don't really think Boeing is serious about flying to Mars, do you? When it comes to ambitious space areonautics, Boeing can't find their collective ass with both hands. They just aren't tuned or biased towards that. Boeing produces money with the least investment/expenses (in R&D or otherwise) possible. Milking the US govt. seems to have worked wonders in that sense.

      This is just bluster, nothing more.

  • The company is developing a reusable megarocket-- called the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR -- that would fly astronauts to Mars, the moon and other deep-space destinations.

    Right. Sure. That "F" stands for "Falcon". If you say so.

    I say let them compete for this totally arbitrary goal. I'd rather see two private US companies compete for bragging rights like this. No matter which company loses it's the American people, and the whole world, that win. I wish them both well, but I can't wish them both success as that is impossible. There can be only one winner in a competition like this.

    • Greatest Star Trek line ever:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_5cmdQX5Sk

      And no, it's not "Off Topic".

    • They can both find success in the effort of getting to Mars even if only one of them can be first. After all the true success of the Apollo program wasn't sending American astronauts to the moon, it was the advances in technology that we made along the way. Those advances were a huge factor in shaping the world and culture we live in today. If we get even a quarter of the benefit out of Mars race I'd count it as a huge success for everyone involved.

      • The space program, as going to the Moon, only gave us one single thing: Teflon.
        There was no other invention or progress.

        • Wikipedia, and the citations identified therein, would beg to differ.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Have any sources for your Teflon assertion?

          • What do you mean with "Teflon assertion"?

            IC where long developed before the Apollo program.

            And there is nothing relevant in the Apollo program that would not exist without the program.

            • You made the assertion that the only technological advancement to come out of the Apollo program was Teflon.

              The first demonstrated IC was towards the end of 1958, patent applied for in early 1959. An improved silicon version was iterated later in 1959. So yes, the IC was technically invented before the start of the Apollo started in 1961. However the Apollo program is what brought the funding and resources to advance the state of the art by leaps and bounds into computers that could be trusted to control sp

    • Being second on Mars, is not losing.

      But I doubt an american company will be second, and I'm despite Elon still not sure if an american company will be first.

  • Looks like someone has a rocket complex.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @06:07AM (#55700515)
    Unless you're talking about a one-way trip. The moon landings required about 8 days of total travel and loiter time. It's fairly trivial to package enough food, water, oxygen, fuel, and waste storage (the astronauts left bags of poop and urine on the moon) for a trip of that duration.

    Mars requires (assuming a least-energy Hohmann transfer orbit) about 9 months to travel there, 16 months to wait for another Hohmann transfer orbit window for the return trip, then another 9 months for the return trip. That's over 1000 days in total. Two orders of magnitude longer than the moon landings.

    Don't be fooled by the apparent ease with which we're sending robots to Mars. Robots don't need food, water, oxygen, and waste storage. And if they're solar or nuclear powered (as all of them have been thus far) they don't need fuel either. While it may technically be possible to launch people on a trip to Mars within the next decade or two, they either wouldn't be returning or would as corpses. We still have decades of R&D to do in creating a self-sustainable miniature ecosystem, maintaining human physiology for 3 years in space, and shielding space travelers from solar radiation, before a manned Mars mission will be feasible. Developing the rockets for the trip is the easy part.
    • Mars requires (assuming a least-energy Hohmann transfer orbit) about 9 months to travel there, 16 months to wait for another Hohmann transfer orbit window for the return trip, then another 9 months for the return trip. That's over 1000 days in total. Two orders of magnitude longer than the moon landings.

      The duration is not the big problem. The ISS shows that we can sustain a mission for that period. The big problem is the mass. Such a mission requires a lot more mass than we can cost-effectively launch right now. So now they're working on that problem, as one would.

      • The big problem is the mass. Such a mission requires a lot more mass than we can cost-effectively launch right now.

        As your comment indicates in passing the real big problem is money. A mission to Mars will cost a lot of money to develop and dispatch. No one if offering up the necessary money at present.

        Launch costs are a modest part of the problem. Even if we could put stuff in space for free the mission would be very expensive simply due to the cost of spaceflight qualified hardware, and getting back off of Mars would not be free. (I assume we are not sending people to Mars simply to look at it from orbit.)

    • I'm going to go a bit 'space nutter' here - but I'm not insanely enthusiastic to the point of being oblivious to the difficulties

      >We still have decades of R&D to do in creating a self-sustainable miniature ecosystem

      Agreed... but we don't need one that is self-sustaining. We need one that can last a round trip plus margin of error, and requires less mass than just taking all the one-time-use supplies.

      This may already be possible.

      Even if not, we can launch supplies on separate rockets ahead of time an

      • I really think you are being somewhat oblivious to the difficulties. Take self sustaining for example. Yes, only for the time it takes for the trip and back, that's a given. Still there are things like seals that won't leak out the atmosphere in that time period. The ISS can't do it. Things like rotation are simple in theory but like all of these things are just that, theory. We've stil ahven't even built a proof of concept of a long term space habitat and there are lots of things that can happen. We don't
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      Excellent summary. Though it makes sense people will still push "Mars" instead of the Moon. Reason is if you propose sending people to the Moon, you have to come up with real money now. To begin building transfer stage, lander, EVA suits, etc. now. But if you propose sending people to Mars, it will always be 20 years into the future so you can defer spending real money to future smucks. Then 20 years from now you can bitch why they didn't spend the money.
    • SpaceX's Mars plans involve transit trajectories that are far higher energy than a Hohmann transfer. They're aiming for average transit times of 115 days, more to deal with the microgravity and radiation hazards than due to the supply requirements.

      They are also targeting locations with accessible water resources. That and the atmosphere mean they don't need a perfectly closed life support system on the surface, they mostly need to import food and can easily augment supplies with fresh produce from greenhous

  • Bragging about attempting (what will for sure be a very dangerous expedition) first is easy, but will Boeing's CEO be on this first flight to Mars?
    Or does he rather like to risk other people's lifes for profit and glory?
  • No it won't.
  • I doubt that we'll get one between two private companies, but here's hoping that Boeing and SpaceX are both serious about mars, and that we may all benefit from their competition. Because optimism, eh?
  • Seriously, Boeing is doing nothing unless the feds fund things at 100%. And what will we do now that trump/GOP are going to jump deficit spending way up? Nothing. NASA is very likely going to get killed.
  • This is literally what Musk wants, I don't think he cares if he does it.
  • by furry_wookie ( 8361 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @11:14AM (#55701849)
    If it's not Boeing, I'm not going (to mars).
  • Moisevitch: "Here we have our quandary. We are going to get there first...yet you have the knowledge to make the trip work. How much more time do I have?"

    Floyd: "You just got yourself an extension."

    - 2010: The Year We Return

  • Musk has made a large business by agilely doing what larger businesses can't seem to. What makes Boeing think they're different?

Just go with the flow control, roll with the crunches, and, when you get a prompt, type like hell.

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