Two companies Wants to beat SpaceX to Mars with ‘audacious’ landing

If a commercial Mars mission succeeds, it could open a new market in which institutions, companies and national space agencies could send payloads to the red planet at an economical cost.

SpaceX could lose the race to send the first private space mission to Mars. Maybe.

For years, Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has talked of making humanity an interplanetary species by someday sending colonists to Mars. The company is building a giant spacecraft, Starship, with that goal in mind.

But a newer rocket company, Relativity Space, and a small startup founded by an engineer who used to head rocket engine development at SpaceX, on Tuesday announced plans to send a privately developed robotic lander to Mars. Optimistically — very optimistically — the two companies say they could do it as soon as 2 1/2 years from now, when the positions of Earth and Mars line up again.

Timothy Ellis, the CEO and a founder of Relativity, said the way that SpaceX aspired to do things “at the edge of crazy and ambitious and audacious” was an inspiration.

“Those kinds of goals attract the best people to work on them,” Ellis said. “We are more audacious than some of the other companies.”

If a commercial Mars mission succeeds, it could open a new market in which institutions, companies and national space agencies could send payloads to the red planet at an economical cost. Read more

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