Buzz Aldrin: America Needs to Set its Sights on Mars

The legendary Apollo astronaut and 2nd man to walk the moon visited Reddit for an engaging AMA featuring discussion about Elon Musk, Mars, and -- naturally -- ice cream.

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When Buzz Aldrin isn't busy yelling at the moon with Tina Fey, he visits Reddit to engage with the site's users via the extremely popular AMA (Ask Me Anything) subreddit. The legendary astronaut answered such pressing and timeless questions as "What is your favorite type of cheese?" (American, naturally) and "What type of music do you listen to?" (Karen Carpenter, perhaps more unnaturally). Aldrin also addressed a number of the pressing topics in the collective worldwide space conversation. Below are a few snippets (underlined phrases are ones Mr. Aldrin had italicized). 

On the prospect of humanity reaching Mars:

"There is very little doubt, in my mind, that what the next monumental achievement of humanity will be the first landing by an Earthling, a human being, on the planet Mars. And I expect that within 2 decades of the [50th] anniversary of the first landing on the moon, that within 2 decades America will lead an international presence on Planet Mars."

On Elon Musk and SpaceX:

"Some people may be rooting for Elon – I think he could, with his SpaceX, contribute considerably, enormously, to an international activity not only at the moon but also on Mars...

Your question referred to a monumental achievement by humanity - that should not be one private company at all, it should be a collection of the best from all the countries on Earth, and the leader of the nation or the groups who makes a commitment to do that in 2 decades will be remembered throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years in the future of the history of humanity, beginning, commencing, a human occupation of the solar system."

And on returning to the Moon:

"To those of us that feel that America is a leader, it was, we helped win WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and we can lead the other nations in peace, just the way that the plaque on the moon that Neil and I left, “We came in peace for all Mankind” – I believe that that is so American, to do things, and share with other nations of the world. That’s how we should go back to the Moon, not by competing with other nations, like China, to land our people – we’ve done that...

So let the other nations of the world put their citizens on the surface of the moon for prestige – that is a major reason why nations put their people on the Moon. But we’ve done that, we can help the other nations, and we can help other nations use our facilities...

“Returning to the Moon with NASA astronauts is not the best usage of our resources. Because OUR resources should be directed to outward, beyond-the-moon, to establishing habitation and laboratories on the surface of Mars that can be built, assembled, from the close-by moons of Mars. With very little time delay – a second or less. Much better than controlling things on the Moon from the Earth. So when NASA funding comes up for review, please call your lawmakers to support it.”

What's the Big Idea?

A lot of people have turned to NASA legends for their opinions on further space travel. Aldrin, the second man to ever walk on the moon, is a living embodiment of the great work American scientists of the past did in reaching for the stars and feeling space at their fingertips. But now it's been 42 years since a human has left low-Earth orbit. Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, uttered words of hope for a future of further exploration as he stepped back into the lunar module. His short speech has yet to be prophetic, and the 82-year-old Aldrin seems to share the same frustration that a lot of folks feel: that the world has spent the past four decades spinning its wheels instead of committing to grand, ambitious project such as a manned mission to Mars.

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