Tags: Buzz Aldrin | Mars | colony | Walt Cunningham | Mike Massimino

Buzz Aldrin: US Needs Boots on the Ground — On Mars

By    |   Friday, 27 February 2015 01:14 PM

His footprints are on the surface of the moon, but former astronaut Buzz Aldrin wants to see American boots on the ground of Mars.

Aldrin, testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness on Tuesday, sketched out for the senators his plan for a permanent settlement on the Red Planet, staffed by astronauts, most of whom never would return to earth, the Daily Mail reported.

Outlining his Unified Space Vision plan, Aldrin, 85, said robots could erect habitation buildings around 2028, a cycling spacecraft between Earth and Mars would lessen the needed fuel for the trip, and astronauts would land first on Mars' moon Phobos, around 2034, and then transfer to the surface of Mars.

"Every four and a half years the population of Mars will continue to grow as recurring outbound cyclers bring additional crews of up to nine new inhabitants," Aldrin said.

"In my opinion, there is no more convincing way to demonstrate American leadership for the remainder of this century than to commit to a permanent presence on Mars," Aldrin said, Fox News reported.

"It's an integrated plan that knits together return(ing) to the moon on a commercial and international basis, leveraging asteroid rendezvous and settling Mars on a carefully developed risk-mitigation architecture.

"It includes the use of a robotic cycler between Mars and Earth that will revolutionize the economics and safety aspects of human missions to Mars."

Aldrin, who was the second man to walk on the moon in 1969, joined two other former astronauts, Walt Cunningham and Mike Massimino, in arguing for a planned Mars base, The Huffington Post reported.

Massimino said that setting up a base on Mars would give humanity a place to go, should a catastrophe threaten earth.

"Mars might be that place. So if we decide to go there, it's giving us another option. I really see it as an investment in our future, to inspire our young kids and also, I think, to help our country and our economy for many years to come. I think it would be a glorious thing to do," Massimino said, The Huffington Post reported.

However, the astronauts cautioned, such a program would come at a great cost. In today's currency, the Apollo program would cost about $110 billion, and the envisioned Mars program would be three times as expensive. During Apollo, NASA received about 4.5 percent of the federal budget, while today it receives just 0.5 percent.

"The budget has got to go up for NASA. NASA's budget is way too low to do the things that we talked about doing here this afternoon," Cunningham said.

Aldrin, who also encouraged U.S. cooperation with China in space programs, said "American leadership is inspiring the world by consistently doing what no other nation is capable of doing. We demonstrated that for a brief time 45 years ago. I do not believe we have done it since," the Dallas Morning News reported.

He said establishing settlements on the moon would not be adequate to demonstrate American leadership in space. "Lunar settlements will only require a small step for the other nations to catch up," Fox News reported Aldrin said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, chairing the committee, said: "We need to get back to manned space exploration and to the innovation that has been integral to the mission of NASA. We need to ensure that the United States remains a leader in space exploration in the 21st century," the Dallas Morning News reported.

"We are right now entirely dependent on the Russian Soyuz system, which is unacceptable."

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Buzz Aldrin sketched out for the Senate on Friday his plan for a permanent settlement on Mars, staffed by astronauts.
Buzz Aldrin, Mars, colony, Walt Cunningham, Mike Massimino
Friday, 27 February 2015 01:14 PM
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