It may be almost 44 years since Buzz Aldrin became the second man to set foot on the moon, but it seems the NASA astronaut is still proving influential and prominent in the world of astronomy and space travel.
In a recent speech at the Humans to Mars summit in Washington D.C, whereby Aldrin advocated for a colony on Mars, the Apollo astronaut derided NASA’s plans to bring an asteroid into lunar orbit.
“Bringing an asteroid back to Earth? What’s that have to do with space exploration?” Aldrin asked delegates at the summit. (1)
Instead, the 83 year old shared his plan to “cycle” spacecraft to Mars and to continually launch trajectories between Earth and Mars to develop and expand a colony on the Red Planet.
Aldrin also promotes using Phobos, a moon of Mars, as a home base for landings.
Mission to Mars
The outspoken champion for the pursuit of space exploration has written a new book, aptly titled “Mission to Mars”.
Written from Aldrin’s perspective, the book focuses on Mars and making the dream of getting man to Mars become a reality by embracing space tourism and exploiting the efforts made by commercial space companies.
Mission to Mar’s co-writer, Leonard David says that he hopes the book is a “good platform for moving the space exploration agenda forward”. (2)
Aldrin’s controversial plans in which he admits would be “one way trips” for those involved, contrasts to NASA’s asteroid deflection mission, which would send a robotic operation to an undetermined asteroid, capture it and return it to lunar orbit.
In the early 2020s, astronauts would then be sent to sample the asteroid. In bringing a sample of the asteroid back to Earth, the mission would ultimately act as planetary defense, protecting planet Earth against impacts by asteroids and comets.
Aldrin and NASA Administrator Disagree
While NASA administrator Charles Bolden defends the asteroid deflection mission as being one step closer to Mars, Aldrin disagrees, stating that it would be a waste of time and would excite nobody.
Talking about how progress has been slow since they landed on the moon 44 years ago, Aldrin said:
“I’ve always felt that Mars should be the next destination following our landings on the moon. I want the next generation to feel as we did back when I was privileged to be part of the Apollo program.” (1)
In devising plans to “cycle” spacecrafts and take astronauts on a one way ticket to Mars by 2035, writing controversial books and making somewhat pioneering speeches at conferences, Buzz Aldrin is still playing an influential and important role in pushing the boundaries of the universe as we know it.
It is hardly surprising that the legendary moon walker is opposing NASA’s comparatively “safe” and arguably less interesting asteroid deflection mission.