Betting on the Mars Race: Who Will Get There First?

By | February 17, 2021

Humanity has dreamt of life on other planets since some of our first bipedal ancestors painted cave walls with wooly mammoths. As technology has continued to develop and our understanding of the world and worlds beyond us has expanded, so have our ambitions.

The global community now has its sights set on Mars. Las Vegas, along with many online gambling sites, has gotten into the business of betting on the Mars race. Who will get there first?

Not in Your Lifetime

Many may think that the prospect of humans landing on Mars would never happen in their lifetime. If there’s anything that the past has shown us, it’s that life truly comes at you fast.

It was 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic romp around the lunar surface. Only 25 years prior, the notion of putting a man on the moon seemed as farfetched as John Wayne riding upon a pink unicorn.

Fast forward to 1995, and I will confess that this high school student would have summarily dismissed any classmates that suggested we’d be in the Mars Race within the next 25 years.

Still, here we are in the middle of several organizations making a push to put men and women on Mars. So, whether or not humans set foot on the harsh Martian landscape seems to be a matter that’s settled.

The question we must now ask ourselves is when humans will land on Mars?

A World of Possibilities

Landing on Mars is a primary objective for the most advanced and well-funded space programs on the planet. However, the desire to be the first to Mars is about more than peacocking.

Sure, if the billions being poured into putting life on Mars were focused on the problems we face on our home planet, it could be a much happier place to live for billions of people.

Unfortunately, funding cancer research or addressing the hunger crisis isn’t as sexy as playing “spaceman.” What would happen if these brilliant minds united to broker peace and goodwill among nations large and small?

I have to imagine that world leaders could make significant strides in world peace in a short period.

The Mars Race is on, and there’s no looking back. So, we may as well embrace the adventure.

Mars Race

Some incredible possibilities come from the prospect of visiting Mars. For starters, we may, in fact, find ways to make an inhabitable planet habitable.

This is one of the critical factors that Mars is a better option than Venus, which is much closer. Mars is twice as far from Earth as Venus.

Venus’ atmosphere is much harsher than Mars. The atmosphere on Venus comprises mostly carbon dioxide (96.5%) and nitrogen (3.5%).

The atmospheric pressure is also nearly 100 times that of Earth’s. Pair that with a temperature that regularly soars to almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and you have a planet that’s clearly not suitable for colonization.

The potential colonization of planets in our solar system would serve as a test run for expanding beyond Pluto and a hub for future missions into space.

Risk Factors

Obviously, there are a ton of potential hazards of a trip to Mars. The journey alone is full of danger. The unknown physical and mental toll on astronauts could be disastrous.

The ride to Mars will take between six and eight months. That’s a long ride with cramped quarters.

Perhaps the most unpredictable factor of the journey is the mental toll on passengers. There won’t be anywhere to pull over and let someone off if they miss their friends or family.

How the crew handles a crew member with any form of mental breakdown will be an essential factor for the space racers to consider.

The journey is just the start of the crew’s troubles. Once the team arrives on the red planet, they will face a whole new set of challenges.

The Martian atmosphere isn’t going to allow for a leisurely round of golf or any beach volleyball games. From the moment the astronauts step out of the delivery vehicle’s safety until they return, astronauts will spend their time on the Martian surface in a spacesuit.

The risk factors at play are too numerous to attempt and catalog in a brief article. However, they play an essential role in who could win the race.

Any potential casualties could severely hamstring the efforts to put a man or woman on Mars. That is for the body responsible anyway.

A fatal launch attempt would set any of the agencies back to the point of nearly being out of the race. First, you’d have the issue of losing your A-Team.

I do not doubt that these space invaders have a secondary and even a tertiary team on standby. Still, losing any crew member or a vehicle to catastrophe would almost surely sink any ambitions of winning the race.

Then, there’s the public relations nightmare that would follow many of the programs if a failed launch resulted in the loss of life.

Groups like NASA depend on public support to receive their government funding. The public isn’t fond of tragedy — well, at least not if they can be outraged about it instead.


The United Arab Emirates is the longshot to be the first to put a human on Mars. The reason is because of money—lots and lots of money.

The oil-rich nation has all the money in the world to throw at a manned trip to Mars. Still, they’re at +20000.

I love the longshot as much as the next guy, but there’s got to be some value to the bet. I can’t see many scenarios where UAE puts people on Mars before China or Elon Musk.


China is a definite contender in the hyper-competitive race to Mars. At +7500, China is my dark horse pick.

For starters, China isn’t hampered by public funding or what popular opinion happens to be. The Chinese government has a not-so-subtle way of telling the citizens what they want.

Next comes their brilliant artificial intelligence technology. China leads the world in this area, and having such a jump on the competition could lighten the load tremendously for a space crew, primarily upon arriving on the red planet.

China is my pick based on their ability to pull off the impressive feat and the fantastic odds being given at the moment.


Russia has been in the space race since the beginning. The Russians were the first to launch a satellite that made its orbit around Earth, and they were the first to put a man in space.

The Russian space program continues to be a tremendous contributor to the international space community. This is probably why the Russians are +4500 to land a crew on Mars.


However, the journey to another planet doesn’t seem to be at the top of anyone’s list in Russia. So, I’d say it’s far more likely that another agency will beat the Russians to Mars.

Still, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if there was at least one Russian on the flight crew—at least that’s how it’s always done in the movies.



I am kidding, partly. NASA has endured budget cuts galore and a general lack of interest from the public.

I understand it. The prospect of a human-crewed mission to Mars sounds excellent, but it’s unlikely to do much to change my daily life.

It’ll be great to witness such an outstanding achievement of humanity, but I don’t see it as really changing much for most of us. NASA is at +6000. It’s a slight favorite over China, but not in my eyes.

Space Force

Space Force is my odds-on favorite when it comes to government agencies. The newest branch of the United States military will have a massive budget and infinite resources.

Still, Space Force is miles behind some of the private firms – organizations that aren’t hampered by public opinion or bureaucratic red tape.

Space Force is +2000 and is clearly a frontrunner. It’ll be interesting to see how the new kids on the block earn their space wings.

Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos has turned an online bookseller into one of the most profitable companies on the planet. Amazon and Bezos have transformed the way we live in countless ways.

Now, the billionaire has set his sights on moving beyond Earth and into the cosmos. Blue Origin is a favorite to put humans on Mars.

How much of a favorite?

The company sits at +400. Bezos funds the Mars effort by pumping $1 billion into the coffers annually.

So, the progress is much slower than some of their competitors. This leads me to what seems to be a sure thing at the moment, Space X.

Space X

Elon Musk wants to put the first man and woman on the surface of Mars. To me, that indicates Space X is the clear frontrunner.

Musk and his eccentric style have made Tesla a leader in electric vehicles, and he’s taken that same passion to Space X.

Space X is the overwhelming favorite at -350. So, there’s not a ton of value there.

Still, Musk doesn’t care much whether or not you bet on him. Space X will almost certainly be the first to make a manned trip to Mars.


It may never have occurred to you that placing bets on the Mars race was the same as placing bets on sports. The question of who will get there first seems to have one clear leader in Space X.

I wouldn’t count China out just yet. The nation has the money and resources to make the dream a reality if they put their minds to it.

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