Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has sought to bring upstart rival SpaceX back down to Earth by insisting that the aerospace juggernaut would develop the first rocket capable of transporting astronauts to Mars.
The intervention is a clear rebuke to increasingly audacious claims made by SpaceX founder Elon Musk who aims to establish a human colony on the Red Planet by 2024.
Speaking at the ‘What’s Next’ tech conference in Chicago Muilenburg said: “I’m convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket.”
Boeing has a proud pedigree in space having developed the first stage of the giant Saturn V rocket, the largest vehicle ever built by man, which ferried astronauts to the Moon in the late sixties and early seventies but has been overshadowed in recent years by Space X which has successfully flown a re-useable rocket capable of a controlled descent and landing.
Boeing is currently beavering away on the Space Launch System, a giant rocket commissioned by NASA which would be capable of delivering humans and cargo to our astronomical neighbour around 2035.