This is hilarious. Muilenburg thinks (or at least claims to think) that Boeing is going to beat SpaceX to Mars. With SLS.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2017
[Update a while later]
Boeing also isn’t going to land a rocket on Mars without near total funding from NASA, which has already paid more than $10 billion for development of the SLS and has no actual funding to implement a humans-to-Mars exploration plan. SpaceX will also need some government funding if it is to develop its “Big Falcon Rocket” to reach Mars, but Musk has laid out plans for commercial applications of his launch system that could offset some of its cost. (The SLS rocket has no known customers aside from NASA).
What is particularly puzzling to us is why Boeing and SpaceX are arguing about Mars. These two companies, who compete directly for NASA and other government contracts, are in a far more immediate and real race to reach the launch pad in the commercial crew competition. NASA has had to rely on Russia to get its astronauts to the International Space Station since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011. Both Boeing and SpaceX are building capsules that will launch crews from Florida.
The companies have both seen slips in their schedules for the first crewed flights. They have launch dates now set for 2018, but there is a general expectation that further delays are likely—both due to development problems and changing requirements from NASA. Regardless, the company that eventually breaks NASA’s Russian dependence will win a public relations boon beyond compare for an aerospace company.
“Do it,” we say to Dennis and Elon.