The way to Mars, NASA believes, is two-fold: first, we return to the Moon and build a deep-space "pit-stop" station in Lunar orbit. Then, after perfecting the next-gen model of ion propulsion, the agency will launch deep-space exploratory vessels to orbit the Red Planet, where they will build another space station. By contrast, Elon Musk and his Starship project prioritize a SpaceX mission to the surface of the Red Planet itself, instead of a return to the Moon. Meanwhile, NASA — along with a large consortium of international partners — seems determined to bring not just humans, but also our markets and economic infrastructure, into space. Which plan, then, is the better way to go to Mars?

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