Considering a U.S. company has a plan in place to reach Mars around a decade sooner than NASA, you’d think the space agency might be a bit jealous. Well, then you'd be wrong.
In an interview with Seeker, NASA's new science chief Thomas Zurbuchen said the U.S. space agency does not see SpaceX’s ambitious plan to send a team to Mars by 2025 as a rivalry. Instead, Zurbuchen said he’d be the first in line to throw SpaceX founder Elon Musk a “Welcome Home” party if the company can actually pull it off (unlike Boeing, who really wants to be the first one there). If anything, Zurbuchen said he believes SpaceX’s success would only serve as an example for just how well the private space industry is doing — and those new developments will only serve to better our chances of exploring the stars in the future.
Here’s an excerpt from Zurbuchen’s comments:
“If Elon Musk brought the samples in the door right now I'd throw him a party out of my own money. I think that would be a huge success out of the strategies that were pursued by this administration of helping … the private industry to really grow capabilities that 10 years ago were not around.”
It’s not much of a shock to hear Zurbuchen’s take on SpaceX, but it’s encouraging to know NASA is as excited as the rest of us about SpaceX’s goals. The U.S. space agency is already planning to send some tech along with SpaceX’s Dragon missions to Mars, and NASA also has an in-kind agreement to provide technical support on the missions (in exchange for critical landing and flight data that could inform NASA’s own manned missions in the 2030s). To say nothing of Musk's much larger ambitions for the Red Planet.
It’s all just one big, Mars-seeking space family.