According to astronaut Buzz Aldrin NASA is wrong in the way that they want to explore Mars in the first “manned” flights to the red planet. He certainly has enough experience to make him somewhat of an expert on space travel and exploration.
The 83 year-old astronaut was the second person to walk on the Moon. He was also the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, which was the first manned lunar landing in history. On July 21, 1969 Aldrin stepped foot on the Moon, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. Aldrin is also a retired United States Air Force pilot.
On JUne 11, Aldrin gave a speech to a crowd of 800 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda; he challenged the United States to pick up the space slack Tuesday evening, just hours after China sent three astronauts into orbit.
Buzz went on to criticizse the U.S. for not adequately leading the international community in space exploration. He also suggested that we bump up our federal investment in space while still encouraging the private sector’s efforts.
He said, “It took a national effort of about 4% of our [federal] budget in the peak year to support the Apollo program. We’re getting a half of a percent right now. We have a lot of catching up to do to get back to the top of the space transportation business.”
The 83 year-old retired pilot was flying the Apollo rocket on July 20, 1969, on the moon flight that took Neil “one small step for man” Armstrong to the moon.
In his new book MIssion to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration Aldrin lays out his current plan which calls for a U.S. led international effort to build a series of incremental bases, starting with the moon, then moving on to Mars’ two moons Phobos and Deimos, and then finally building a permanent base with human residents on Mars.
The key to Aldrin’s plan is to use a spacecraft called the cycler, which would transport people back and forth between Earth and Mars, surpassing even Los Angeles for commute time. “Every couple of years, we could dispatch people from Earth to Mars,” Aldrin said.
Aldrin says that the cost needn’t be so high that it cannot be done, but he readily admits, he doesn’t know how the project would be paid for.
But Buzz says that we’d better hurry because, ”If we don’t, the Russians will, the Chinese will, some other country will. I grew up in a country that I thought was special. And it was.”
Buzz Aldrin isn’t just pontificating on going to Mars in his book and in speeches. He has also been blogging about it. The astronaut has also been writing a blog on Parade. It is in his blog that he says NASA is looking at the missions to Mars all wrong.
The astronauts blog, written on 12 June this year, is titled: Buzz Aldrin: What NASA Has Wrong About Sending Humans to Mars
He discusses the historical implications of the first manned flight to Mars and that it will take human tenacity to get there. He also says that once man gets on the surface of Mars, the window of opportunity to get back to earth is a very narrow one.
His Parade blog says that this leads to a problem that NASA are ignoring or evading. He says that the space program are treating the Mars mission like an Apollo moon project.
Aldrin writes that we need, “to start thinking about building permanence on the red planet, and what it takes to do that. I feel very strongly about this. This is an entirely different mission than just putting people on the surface of that planet, claiming success, having them set up some experiments and plant a flag, to be followed by quickly bringing the crew back to Earth, as was done in the Apollo program.”
He asks the questions, “What are you going to do with astronauts who first reach the surface of Mars and then turn around and rocket back home-ward? What are they going to do, write their memoirs? Would they go again? Having them repeat the voyage, in my view, is dim-witted. Why don’t they stay there on Mars?”
The blog then goes on to reflect on the permanence of a Mars population, one that has been shielded from radiation by the red planets two moons. Moons that will also supply staging points and another area for people to populate.
In Aldrin’s mind, the planet needs to be set up as an “alternate” earth, so that we can “become a two-planet species.” He also says that future astronauts, “should consign to living out his or her life on the surface of Mars.”
Buzz Aldrin implies that NASA is attempting to treat the Mars mission in 2019 (estimated) like an old fashioned Apollo moon landing. His vision is to have astronauts sign up for a “one-way” trip that would leave them on the planet to build and set up a permanent place for humans to start moving forward in space.
So initially at least, Aldrin’s super fast “cycler” won’t come into being for quite some time after the planet gets set up as a permanent base. Until then he seems to think that the only way to succeed on the planet is by having the astronauts “immigrate” to Mars.
As scientists learn more about the red planet daily, the reality of a manned flight to Mars seems less like a pipe dream and more of a pragmatic prediction. Even if NASA are going about it all wrong, according to Buzz Aldrin, it needs to be done. There is no doubt that he would like to see an American flag on the surface of Mars and we imagine that he would like to put it there.
By Michael Smith