As Elon Musk aims for Mars with high-tech reusable rockets and the space industry vies with him in a race to the Red Planet, there is someone else who wants to see us as Martians in the future, someone who already put a boot on extraterrestrial ground—moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.
With the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing approaching in 2019, Aldrin recalls his first steps on the gray, dusty landscape he later described as “magnificent desolation.” Thinking back on the one small step that took the cooperation of academia, government, and industry to become a giant leap for mankind, he was ecstatic to see the National Space Council recently reactivated.
“It was high time to resurrect this council and once again guide American space policy to regain and retain U.S. leadership in space,” said Aldrin. “Our nation has suffered by not having such a council to ensure that a vibrant, resolute and true trajectory for NASA’s civil program is put in place.”
The Apollo astronaut, who admitted his embarrassment at the absence of any space agency representatives from the U.S. at this year’s Global Space Exploration Conference in Beijing, believes that our country needs to fortify its presence among countries with advanced space exploration programs. His vision is for spacefaring nations to band together and test Mars-bound spacecraft and technology in low-Earth orbit and the Moon for a sustainable future colony overlooking the alien red landscape.
Aldrin believes that Washington should rethink its spending on space exploration if we want to land on Mars by 2040, and urges the current administration to rise to a position of leadership among the international space exploration community and commit to supporting human survival on the next frontier. There is, unfortunately, a dark side to his dream of a colony far, far away. NASA would have to go through some lobotomizing, and some of the cuts he proposes are not without controversy.
“The programs that we have right now are eating up every piece of the NASA budget,” Aldrin insisted. “It’s got to be reduced if we’re ever going to get anywhere new.”
Radical changes suggested by Aldrin mean that funding for certain high-profile NASA programs, including Orion, the Space Launch System, and even the International Space Station, should be vaporized for us to set our sights on not just a Martian mission but a flourishing colony that makes Martians out of Earthlings.
“Indeed, the task ahead is daunting,” he admitted. “But what’s a future for if not to dream big? I passionately believe it is our rendezvous with destiny.”
I foresee #occupymars becoming a thing.
(via NBC Mach)