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The first commercial mission to Mars could launch as early as 2024

Updated Oct 20th, 2022 10:33AM EDT

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Two space-focused companies have joined SpaceX in the race to get a mission to Mars. Impulse Space Inc. and Relativity Space have joined forces per a video and several tweets announcing the juncture. The two hope to launch the first commercial mission to Mars as early as 2024. They plan to use a fully 3D-printed rocket to power the journey to the Red Planet.

Relativity Space announced the partnership with Impulse Space on July 19, 2022. The two companies will work together to launch a cruise vehicle and a lander to the Red Planet. The two components will launch on Terran R, Relativity’s full 3D-printed rocket. The mission could become the first commercial mission to Mars.

Previously, all the missions to Mars have been handled by government agencies like NASA. While these space agencies have pushed exploration of the Red Planet far, commercial endeavors would allow us to cover even more ground. Of course, launching a mission to Mars in 2024 is ambitious, especially for Relativity Space, which has yet even to test putting its rocket in orbit.

It isn’t completely undoable, but compared to other space-focused companies, like SpaceX, who have been doing this for a few years, it’s hard to see how Relativity might pull it off. But, if the company does, using a fully 3D-printed rocket to complete the first commercial mission to Mars would certainly set a bar.

The race to Mars

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket heads for orbit after lifting off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Image source:

As noted above, Relativity Space and Impulse Space aren’t the only two companies in the race to put a mission on Mars. SpaceX has been building towards a Mars-based mission for years at this point. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has stated multiple times that he sees a future for humanity on Mars. As such, it makes sense for the company to focus on that future.

Additionally, SpaceX has proven time and time again that it can put rockets in orbit. And the company has seen great success with its other space-based projects, like Starlink. All that remains to be seen is if Relativity and Impulse will complete the first commercial mission to Mars or if SpaceX will get there first.

What I know is that the next few years of space exploration will be interesting. Especially with the James Webb already returning so much excellent data and spectacular first images.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.