Back when we went to the Moon, NASA did it, but not alone. Perhaps we need to be more open about how we are planning it. We could even have more than one company help out in the flying. Have one company maybe do a fly by and another do an attempt at landing on the surface, if a third wants a go at it, maybe Phobos?
Boeing (BA), Lockheed Martin(LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NOC) to name a few. Actually there were more, but many were purchased by bigger and bigger…You get the idea. But regardless, NASA did this for America & for Mankind – big business always makes money off of letting NASA go first but the billions and billions that are up there for them, shouldn’t they ante up?
NASA could handle all the cool tech and also extend rights to place on the spaceships the tech for growing food, greehouses and the like, the pulling the water out from the soil, air from ice, fuel from….well you get the idea, NASA’s work yields such cool things - like that robot in Hawaii that could go in advance and build a landing pad for the astronauts. SpaceX (et al) could handle the flying.
Perhaps instead of civilians for the first flight to Mars, trained astronauts would be used on a commercial ship.
Granted, I have always thought a collaborative move to Mars made more sense, but after the Trump cuts to the budget, granted they’re not final yet but…I thought about it some more and thought it made the most sense. It’s not fair to make our countries spaceflight operate on a skin-tight budget! We are the best in space-flight. That is the one thing we remain consistent on. But if we keep expecting NASA to do ‘our’ very best off of so little, it’s time to think out of the box, it’s time to do what Kennedy & Johnson proved works well, make it a Corporate/NASA joint venture. Look, I want to make Mars in my lifetime. Actually, I want to make Titan and Europa and maybe find out from Breakthrough Initiatives what exists out in Alpha Centauri! So let's get going!