Dr. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin is on an urgent mission: Get man back to the moon, and fast.
And Aldrin isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers to advocate for what he sees as America’s next big leap.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Aldrin’s becoming the second man to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, the 89-year-old sat down with the Washington Examiner in his Washington, D.C. office to talk about his vision for America’s next 50 years in space.
That starts with going back to the moon.
“Neil’s statement — ‘one small step’ and ‘a giant leap’ — well, we haven’t really had that giant leap yet,” said Aldrin, referring to Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. “As far as a major program after Apollo, we haven’t seen anything that would come under the category of a giant leap.”
The U.S., he said, shouldn’t stop at the moon, though it’s an important first step. He wants to see the U.S. send a new generation of Pilgrims to space, as permanent settlers on Mars.
And yes, it would be a one-way trip, though Aldrin refuses to give in to the stigma surrounding the term. “That’s what people are going to call it if they don’t like it. It is a settlement. It is a migration,” he said.
He is confident there will be volunteers.
“Who’s gonna go down in history? The Pilgrims! The people who go and stay!” Aldrin said. “They are the pioneers for their country and humanity. The guys who went, came back, wrote a book or two, will be forgotten. And the crews know this.”
The true fame and glory will be not with the first crew to land on Mars, but with the first crew to stay there. And the president who “makes the commitment to go and stay,” he said, will have a historic legacy.
“If everybody comes back, there’s a fixed steady state number of people there. No more than that,” Aldrin said. “There’s no way you can look at the next 50 years on Mars and think that you’re going to be stuck with 50 people there, period.”
Aldrin has unyielding belief in America’s ability to overcome the technological challenges posed by space travel, but that’s tempered by a frustration that, for decades, the U.S. government’s leaders have failed to present and execute a real plan to get back to the moon and to Mars.
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