On CNBC Thursday morning, host Jim Cramer asked Muilenburg whether he or Musk would “get a man on Mars first.”
“Eventually we’re going to go to Mars and I firmly believe the first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg responded.
Ahead of that statement, he briefly outlined the buildup to Boeing’s Mars mission.
“We’re working on that next generation rocket right now with our NASA customers called ‘Space Launch System,'” Muilenburg said. “This is a rocket that’s about 36 stories tall, we’re in the final assembly right now, down near New Orleans. And we’re going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we’re going to do a slingshot mission around the moon.”
This is not the first time Muilenburg has challenged Musk’s plans to initiate human travel to Mars. At a tech conference last year in Chicago, Muilenburg echoed a nearly identical sentiment. “I’m convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
In recent years, Musk has generally been recognized as the face of mankind’s goal to colonize Mars due to his celebrity status. He presented an update on his Mars plan as recently as September in a speech at the International Astronautical Congress called “Making Life Multiplanetary.” According to Musk, SpaceX could begin its mission to Mars by 2022.
“I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” Musk said at the time.