The 89-year-old Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is urging the US to work towards “the great migration of humankind to Mars,” as a matter of “ultimate survival” for humanity, in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Wednesday.
In the article Aldrin notes his gratitude toward the Trump administration for committing to crewed Moon missions and lauded Vice President Mike Pence’s call for NASA to return to the moon, but added that Mars should also become a “serious focus” for human exploration.
That alone is not enough, insists the astronaut, as the missions should serve to help define a path to Mars.
Aldrin wrote that when it comes to orbital mechanics, missions from Earth to Mars for migration are complex.
“That said, human nature — and potentially the ultimate survival of our species — demands humanity’s continued outward reach into the universe,” Aldrin believes.
In last year’s interview with Fox News, Aldrin expressed a degree of fascination with ideas put forth by tech luminaries such as his friend Elon Musk, including detonating nuclear weapons as a way to "terraform" the red planet or transform Mars so it can support human life.
"We explore, or we expire. That is why we must get on with it." https://t.co/5kECn2REoX— Futurism (@futurism) May 2, 2019
Earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence announced an accelerated goal of putting Americans back on the moon within five years “by any means necessary”.
NASA had previously aimed to return astronauts to the lunar surface by the year 2028, after first putting a “Gateway” station in orbit around the moon by 2024.
According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, NASA was about two years away from launching its next big rocket and capsule vehicle — the Space Launch System, or SLS, designed to carry crews and cargo beyond Earth's orbit. Boeing Co. is the primary contractor for the SLS rocket engines.
NASA has already set its sights on the moon’s south pole, a region believed to hold enough recoverable ice water for use in synthesising additional rocket fuel.
NASA also sees the moon as a way station en route to an eventual manned mission to Mars, which Bridenstine has said might be accomplished by the mid-2030s.