Boeing’s aircraft have been a major player in air travel for more than 50 years, and now, the company wants to go even further than the skies — all the way to Mars, to be precise.
In a new video, the company explained how it would get to the Red Planet. Boeing space architect Matt Duggan says the plan’s first step will take place at the International Space Station, where Boeing will learn about long-duration human spaceflight. The next step is to build an outpost on Earth’s moon to test new tools, followed by a mission to Mars’s orbit, and ending with another mission to the red planet’s surface. Only then will astronauts set foot on Mars.
“The race to the moon captured the world’s attention,” Duggan exclaims. “Building the International Space Station united 15 nations. The journey to Mars will inspire all of humankind as we push deeper into space than we ever have before.”
Boeing’s video comes just days before SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk offers his Mars colony plans. He’s said before that he wants to go to Mars “as soon as 2018.” To reach that goal, SpaceX partnered up with NASA, which lent its expertise with deep space communication, navigational support, and other aspects of space travel in exchange for data from SpaceX’s journey.
Boeing says building an outpost near Earth’s moon will offer “international partnerships and commercial opportunities” for lunar exploration and collaborative research on systems that will allow travel to Mars.
Boeing doesn’t offer a timeline for its missions. “Mars is at least 100 times further away than the moon,” Duggan says. “The opportunity to travel from Earth to Mars comes around about every two years. The Earth has to be catching up with Mars in its orbit to give you that shortest distance, and that’s the ideal launch window.” That window, and the time it takes to develop the tech needed to send astronauts between the two planets, will determine when Boeing reaches the red planet.