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Home>UPDATE: New space race to Mars pits NASA vs. SpaceX

UPDATE: New space race to Mars pits NASA vs. SpaceX

UPDATE: New space race to Mars pits NASA vs. SpaceX

10/05/2017

By Andy Pasztor

Elon Musk's plans may be too ambitions, but NASA plans may be too conservative

Entrepreneur Elon Musk's announcement last week accelerating plans for manned flights to Mars ratchets up political and public relations pressure on NASA's efforts to reach the same goal.

With Musk publicly laying out a much faster schedule than NASA (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-unveils-mars-city-says-his-spaceship-will-take-you-anywhere-on-earth-in-under-an-hour-2017-09-29)-- while contending his vision is less expensive and could be financed primarily with private funds -- a debate unlike any before is shaping up over the direction of U.S. space policy.

Read: Before Elon Musk can get SpaceX to Mars, he must overcome these nontechnical hurdles (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/before-elon-musk-can-get-to-mars-he-must-overcome-these-nontechnical-hurdles-2017-10-02)

Industry officials and space experts consider the proposal by Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to land people on the red planet around the middle of the next decade extremely optimistic. Some supporters concede the deadline appears ambitious even for reaching the moon, while Musk himself acknowledged some of his projected dates are merely "aspirational."

But the National Aeronautics and Space Administration doesn't envision getting astronauts to Mars until at least a decade later, a timeline NASA is finding increasingly hard to defend in the face of criticism that it is too slow.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com (https://www.wsj.com/articles/spacexs-mars-vision-puts-pressure-on-nasas-manned-exploration-programs-1507143203?mod=mktw).

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