As the race to Mars ( or so we all keep calling it ) gets closer, more people are becoming excited at the thought of starting another civilization out in space. But, who will be the first to do it and what will happen if SpaceX sends humans to Mars before NASA? This was a question that was posed at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’s annual Explore SPACE Forum during a panel discussion about the “Journey to Mars.” Although this is a question that is on many people’s minds, the two major players that do not class it as a race are the two involved – NASA and SpaceX.
Elon Musk has always been very clear with his intentions and this time is no different. His SpaceX goal is to send a crewed spacecraft to Mars by 2025 and this way ahead of anything that NASA has planned for by then. But, it’s not going to be an easy ride for Musk and team, and there are still many things to troubleshoot before it happens.
NASA is quite happy for SpaceX to get to Mars first. For them, it is irrelevant who gets there first; it is the getting there that is important. William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations states, “It advances us as a species.” Where SpaceX is a privately owned company, it is much easier for them to take risks. With NASA being a federal agency they can not possibly move as fast as SpaceX as everything they did would need to be certified and be able to 100 percent guarantee success.
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