As NASA prepares to resume manned flights to the Moon, private companies are vying for a new space race to see who will get to Mars first. Two startups have just joined forces to send the first commercial mission to the red planet. And the most incredible thing: they want to achieve this goal even before SpaceX.
For now, the company founded by Elon Musk has not yet released a precise timeline, but SpaceX expects to put the first humans on the surface of Mars before the end of this decade, – a very ambitious deadline, as pointed out by the website. space.
On the other hand, American startups Relativity Space and Impulse Space, hope to land the first commercial mission on the red planet as early as 2024. The mission, of course, would not take humans yet, but it would serve to demonstrate the companies’ technological capacity to build rockets and spacecraft reusable, capable of gently landing a payload on the surface of Mars.
It is worth remembering that the landing on Mars is a complex procedure – involving several variables and dangers, with only the American NASA and the Chinese CNSA managing to accomplish this feat. In recent decades, several probes from different countries have failed in an attempt to land on Mars, including the United States.
Space Race to Mars
The two startups promised to build a 3D printer capable of manufacturing entire reusable rockets – dubbed “Terran R”. That in itself would be a great achievement, becoming the largest metal 3D printer in the world, with the project in charge of Relativity.
In the future, Terran R will serve as a point-to-point space freighter capable of participating in government and private missions between Earth, the Moon and Mars. According to a joint statement from the startups, five customers are already interested in using the new fully printed rocket, including Britain’s OneWeb – a rival to SpaceX’s Starlink.
Impulse, in turn, would be responsible for developing the “Mars Cruise Vehicle” and the “Mars Lander”. The first will be a cruise spacecraft capable of entering Mars orbit. The second will have a system to land on the surface of the planet. See the video below for more details on the ambitious project.
According to the startups, the mission would aim to support the research and technological development necessary for future manned missions to Mars. “This is a monumental challenge, but successfully achieved it will expand the possibilities of the human experience in our lifetime on two planets,” said Tim Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Relativity.
Like SpaceX, Relativity and Impulse share the same Elon Musk ideal of making humanity a multiplanetary species. In fact, Impulse CEO Tom Mueller was one of the founders of SpaceX, being responsible for several years for the propulsion department of Musk’s company.
Currently, SpaceX is the most advanced in this new space race, preparing to make tests in orbit with its Starship, a super rocket with a reusable spacecraft that promises to take – in a single trip – up to 100 humans to Mars.
However, the development of the project has faced several difficulties and delays, including a recent explosion. Musk’s company expects the Starship to be ready to fly as early as 2023, including the possibility of a manned flight around the Moon – a space tourism trip paid for by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
But NASA, more cautious, intends to send the first astronauts to Mars only from 2040. Before that, the US space agency wants to build a sustainable colony on the Moon, with the first humans landing on lunar soil no earlier than 2025.