We all know that Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. That’s great! NASA wants to go to Mars as well, and even has a deadline of 25 years to get there. Now Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, has come out not just saying he wants to build the craft that take humans to Mars, but that he’s going to beat Musk there.

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It’s on.

Here’s what Muilenburg said, at a Chicago-area conference sponsored by the Atlantic, as reported by Bloomberg:

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“I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket.”

While SpaceX has made some absolutely remarkable progress over their relatively short life, Boeing has a nearly unparalleled track record when it comes to actually building successful spacecraft.

Boeing was the contractor that built the Saturn V, the launch vehicle that first took humans to the moon, among many other spacecraft, for example. Boeing also has been planning Mars missions for decades, as far back as 1968.

Boeing’s most recent comprehensive Mars plan, the 2014 Affordable Mars Mission, utilizes components already being developed by NASA, like the new SLS launch system and the Orion crew capsule.

I’d like to note that Boeing’s Mars mission plans include the use of a Hab unit that remains in space and does not land on Mars or get launched back into orbit, which is something I suggested for SpaceX’s more radical Mars spacecraft plans. Here, look:

Really, this isn’t so much a space race between Boeing and SpaceX as it is between SpaceX and NASA, since it’s likely NASA will be contracting Boeing to make the actual spacecraft, as they’ve already started to do.

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For an early footprints/flags/science mission, I don’t see SpaceX getting there before NASA. For a later, grander-scale colonization mission, who knows?

Overall, this is still a good thing. A little competition is sometimes what makes things like this happen. Right, ghost of the Soviet Union?