Man has long looked to space as the next frontier. And with major commercial interests in being the first to get to Mars, reaching that frontier is becoming more and more likely every day. The costs for pursuing such a plan are high, but with the help of major business, the plan has a very real possibility of seeing fruition.

Everyone from Richard Branson to Lockheed Martin has put up a stake in the space race. The latest competitors to go head to head over the race to Mars are Elon Musk and Boeing. Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX is working toward getting people to Mars in the next decade.

Meanwhile Boeing, the major aerospace company known for its commercial aircrafts, is also building a rocket that it believes will take the first people to Mars.

Why go to Mars?

Many well known scientists from Bill Nye, to Neil DeGrasse Tyson to Stephen Hawking have all said that humankind needs to work toward getting to Mars. There are many reasons for this.

Being the first to Mars means establishing political and economic leadership. It’s the same reason so many companies wanted to come to the New World. Being the first gives those who achieve it an edge over everyone who follows and the right to stake claims.

The journey to Mars can make life on Earth better. Not only are there discoveries to be made on the Red Planet, but there are discoveries to be made in figuring out how to get there that may be of use to the people who are currently on Earth. One example of this is an algorithm that was developed to help make pictures from the Hubble telescope clearer. That same algorithm has been used since then to make images in breast cancer exams clearer, enabling doctors to catch breast cancer at a much earlier stage.

Putting people on Mars gives us the possibility of discovering life there. The robots that are used in space missions are pretty amazing, but they still can’t compare to what a human can accomplish in the way of exploration and discovery.

Spreading ourselves out to other planets will help to ensure the survival of our species. Even if we do not overload our planet with the demands of the human race, there are still things like asteroids and cataclysmic disasters that can wipe out mankind. Colonising other planets allows us to ensure that we don’t have all of our eggs in one basket.

Boeing vs. SpaceX

Boeing and SpaceX both have contracts with NASA. Boeing is creating the Space Launch System rocket. NASA plans to take highly trained astronauts into deep space for exploratory purposes. They have not yet said much about colonisation. Lockheed Martin is developing a Mars Base Camp– a mobile space habitat for the crews NASA plans to send. Boeing and NASA plan to have their spacecraft ready to take astronauts into space by the 2030s.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is developing its Big Falcon Rocket. The plan is for the Big Falcon Rocket to replace SpaceX’s other spacecraft’s. The ideas that would make the Big Falcon cost effective include making it reusable and designing it for a more controlled return. If SpaceX could make its rockets reusable they could be used not only for space transport but for higher speed Earth travel as well. For example, a flight from New York to Hong Kong could be made in less than an hour.

Although SpaceX has yet to take humans into space, it has won a contract with NASA to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX plans to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 and hopes to begin sending humans as early as 2025.

Musk envisions a colonial transport vehicle that would include up to 40 cabins as well as common areas for the long trip to Mars. Competitors are sceptical about the ability to carry enough supplies for a hundred or more people on a trip that could take between six and nine months. Musk believes that eventually they will be able to cut travel time down to three months. Musk has been known to be a bit optimistic about deadlines, however.

Who will be the first to get humans to Mars? The race is a tight one and the competition is fierce. It is anybody’s guess who will be the first. One thing that all parties seem to agree on though is that humans will definitely go to Mars one day.

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