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NASA shock: Agency snubbed over Mars landing - 'Elon Musk and SpaceX will do it first’

NASA dreams of landing humans on the Red Planet Mars in the 2030s but the dreams could be snubbed by South African rocket mogul Elon Musk, a renowned scientist has claimed.

NASA wants to land a new generation of astronauts on the Moon by the year 2024 to prepare for a landing on Mars. But as the US space agency sets its eyes on the Moon, SpaceX boss Elon Musk could shoot directly for Mars before the end of the decade.

Dr Robert Zubrin, an American mathematician and aerospace engineer, believes the first humans to land on Mars will do so under the banner of SpaceX.

The scientist told WP Magazyn in Poland Mr Musk is determined enough to achieve the goal before NASA.

He said: “Before NASA reaches Mars, Elon Musk will do it. I have no doubt about it.

“Even if every one of his projects has a two or three-year delay, it will eventually be realised. His determination is enormous.

NASA news: Elon Musk and SpaceX will beat NASA to Mars a scientist has claimed (Image: GETTY)NASA news: Artist's render of the SpaceX Starship on Mars (Image: SPACEX)

“Before a mission from one of the world’s space agencies appears on Mars, a Starship with the SpaceX logo will land there.

“It will be another chapter in our great adventure, which began more than a million-and-a-half years ago when homo erectus left the African cradle of life and set out to conquer the world.

“The time is now for homo sapiens to leave Earth and set out to conquer the cosmos.”

The California-based SpaceX aims to make life interplanetary by establishing a human outpost on the fourth planet from the Sun.

The mission is being currently funded by private trips to the Moon and back, which Mr Musk hopes to kick off in 2023.

Towards this goal, SpaceX is developing a prototype of the Starship – the spacecraft Mr Musk believes will fly the first humans to Mars.

A full-scale Starship will serve as a “fully reusable transportation system” designed to ferry humans to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and potentially beyond.

SpaceX said: “Our aspirational goal is to send our first cargo mission to Mars in 2022.

“The objectives for the first mission will be to confirm water resources, identify hazards and put in place initial power, mining and life support infrastructure.

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NASA news: The Starship will ferry humans to the Moon, Mars and maybe beyond (Image: SPACEX)NASA news: Percentage of federal budget allocated to NASA over the years (Image: EXPRESS)

“A second mission, with both crew and cargo, is targeted for 2024, with primary objectives of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crew flights.

“The ships from these initial missions will also serve as the beginning of the first Mars base, from which we can build a thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars.”

Dr Zubrin is the founder of the Mars Society, which is a space advocacy organisation devoted to promoting human interests on Mars.

According to the group, Mars is the perfect planet to settle that can “not only support life but a new branch of human civilisation”.

Dr Zubrin said settling Mars will give humanity a chance to start over with a blank slate, citing the chaos humans have wrought on Earth.

And settling Mars, he argued, will only be the first step towards colonising other parts of the solar system.

He said: “I am convinced that by the end of the century, the Mars colony will count 10s if not 100,000 residents.

“And these people will, step by step, using the latest tools and technology, adapt the environment to their needs.

“Because one of the priorities for off-world colonies has to be strong independence from resource shipments from Earth.”

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