Not content with resting on the his laurels as the second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin has been shaking things up in the Space realm of late, what with his appeal to President Obama to push Space Solar as the leading alternative energy platform. Now he wants to go to Mars, per this profile in Vanity Fair:
President Obama gave a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in April, promising to increase NASA’s funding by six billion and send astronauts to Mars in the next two decades. Do you believe him?
I do. But what he’s describing is a very leisurely way. He’s talked about getting a bunch of things in the orbit of Mars by… what year did he say again?
Well that’s all well and good. But I want to land on the damn place! And I want to minimize the expense. I want to make sure that when they land, they’ve got a support system. I’m convinced that sending people to Mars is so expensive that if you go once and bring the people back and then go again and bring the people back, we’re eventually going to run out of money. But what if we send people the first time and they don’t come back? What if they stay there?
Then you’ve got a bunch of astronauts on Mars going, “Hello? Can I get a little help here? What the fuck?”
But then we send six more people, and now we’ve got twelve. It’d be between three and four times cheaper to send people there and then leave them there.
Do we tell them that in advance? Or do we just wait and spring it on them after they’ve landed?
Did the Pilgrims on the Mayflower sit around Plymouth Rock waiting for a return trip? They came here to settle. And that’s what we should be doing on Mars. When you go to Mars, you need to have made the decision that you’re there permanently. The more people we have there, the more it can become a sustaining environment. Except for very rare exceptions, the people who go to Mars shouldn’t be coming back. Once you get on the surface, you’re there.
You’re talking about building a colony?
Exactly! Every twenty-six months, there’s a window of going to Mars that may last for about a month or so. It just so happens that there’s an opportunity to put a habitat on Mars in the fall of 2022. So we put a habitat there and you check it out for a year or so, and it’s unmanned. Then in the spring of 2025, I send a crew and they stay for a year and a half, and then I bring them back. I send another crew in ‘27 and then I bring them back. I send another crew there in ‘29, and they stay. And then in ‘31 I send six more people, three to one of the moons of Mars and three directly to Mars, and now I’ve got nine people there. I can add six every twenty-six months.
How long before you show up and declare yourself supreme ruler of Mars?
(Laughs.) No, no, no…
[continues in in Vanity Fair]