SpaceX CEO recently sketched out his vision of sending a million people to found a colony on Mars. Now Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg has issued a response, suggesting that the first people to set foot on the Red Planet will ride rockets built, at least in part, by his company. Boeing is one of the contractors building the heavy-lift Space Launch System that is the center of NASA’s Journey to Mars program. NASA plans envision humans on Mars by the 2030s. Musk has boasted that he will have people with astronaut boots on the Martian soil by 2025.

So, the new space race is on with Boeing and a lot of other traditional aerospace giants, supported by NASA, on one side and Elon Musk and SpaceX on the other. David vs. Goliath was just a schoolyard scrap by comparison.

The spectacle of the small, plucky SpaceX going toe to toe with the might and majesty of big aerospace is a beguiling one. Even if Elon Musk misses his 2025 deadline –- and he likely will – SpaceX beating NASA and Boeing to Mars would say much about how space exploration should be conducted. Of course, Elon Musk may need some extra cash to accomplish its Mars goal.

Muilenburg also sketched out a vision of a future in which tourists visit dozens of private space stations in low Earth orbit and zip from city to city in hypersonic aircraft.

Boeing is finishing the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to help take crews to and from the International Space Station. The spacecraft would be the center of a Boeing space tourism operation a decade or two from now.

Left unmentioned is another space billionaire, Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin just successfully tested the launch escape system for its suborbital New Shepard rocket.

Bezos has plans for an orbital rocket called New Glenn that will also take tourists to low Earth orbit. Beyond New Glenn. Blue Origin plans the New Armstrong of which little is being said but is presumed to be a rocket to take people to the moon and Mars. It would be amusing if Bezos beats both Musk and Boeing to Mars.