Newsmakers

Buzz Aldrin’s Martian Dreams

Newsmakers

Buzz Aldrin – Air Force pilot, author, engineer and space pioneer - is very clear about Mars. He is a staunch advocate of sending a manned mission to the red planet, a topic about which he expounds in his new book, “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration.”

But Aldrin has very little interest in going there himself.

“I was a pole-vaulter,” said the second person to walk on the moon. “One spurt and you got it.”

No more space missions – especially lengthy ones - for Dr. Aldrin. The 83-year old retired astronaut spoke with ABC News’ Bill Weir about Mars, the Moon, and a host of other interstellar topics in a recent interview for Newsmakers.

In “Mission to Mars,” Aldrin advocated for a grand international campaign to send people to Mars by the year 2035. He drew on his experience with the Apollo program.

“Going to the moon was a national effort," he said. "Going to Mars … [is an] extension of our capabilities. Of the Earth’s capabilities, of human beings. That should be a national effort. It should be an international [effort].”

Aldrin argued that just because Earthlings don’t yet understand all the dynamics of such an ambitious interplanetary project, it is no excuse for not aggressively pursuing it just like Apollo 11.

“We didn’t know very much about going to the moon,” he said.

There were some who thought Apollo’s lander would sink into deep silt when it hit the moon’s surface.

Or, “people said, lunar dust, if you get any of it in a sample and expose it to oxygen, it’s going to burst into flames.”

The very fact of Aldrin’s lengthy post-lunar career, now some 44 years long, would suggest that, in his words, “It didn’t.”

Aldrin also joked, “And there weren’t any green men up there, except on the back side.” (In space, no one can hear you laugh.)

Returning once more to the method of a manned Mars mission, he brimmed with ideas and theories. But the thrice-married Aldrin is not enthusiastic about billionaire space tourist Dennis Tito’s plan to recruit a married couple for the 500-day round-trip journey to our solar system’s fourth planet.

“Doesn’t sound like a honeymoon to me,” he said.

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