Space Race to Mars: Boeing CEO Says It Will Land People First

A week after SpaceX's Elon Musk announced his Mars plans, competition emerges.

— -- The race to the red planet is on, as Boeing claims its rocket will beat SpaceX's to put the first humans on Mars.

Less than a week after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled his ambitious plans to colonize Mars, the CEO of Boeing announced his company also had its sights set on shuttling people to the neighboring planet. The company is already building a rocket with NASA.

"I am convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, said yesterday at a conference on innovation co-sponsored by the aerospace firm and The Atlantic magazine in Chicago.

Last week, Musk outlined his plan to colonize Mars at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, creating a science fiction-like image of a self-sustaining city on Mars and thousands of people going there via SpaceX rockets.

Muilenburg's comments echoed Musks' sentiments on exploring outer space, as he spoke of a near future where humans could easily travel to other planets.

The Boeing CEO mused about his company's vision to make major advances in "space tourism, space industry" and "deep space exploration" in the next century.

"Over the last 100 years, it is remarkable to think that men and women went from walking on the earth to walking on the moon, we went from riding horses to flying on airplanes," Muilenburg said, adding that he thinks the next century of innovation will bring "even greater, even bolder" changes in technology.

Muilenburg predicted that the near future holds innovations in "supersonic, hyper-sonic travel" and "the ability to connect anywhere in the world in a couple of hours."

NASA announced last month that it has a goal of sending humans to Earth's neighbor in the 2030s via its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which Boeing, a longtime government contractor, is now building at the core stage.