Buzz Aldrin has been an outspoken proponent of colonizing Mars for many years, and indeed he has numerous books out about his ideas. But the Apollo 11 astronaut, and second man on the Moon, has now gone on record again to reveal he has a new plan to colonize Mars, and wants humans to be living there by 2039 – the 70th anniversary of Apollo 11.
Aldrin is working with the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) to develop what he calls “a master plan” to colonize Mars in just 25 years. He was speaking yesterday at a signing ceremony to establish the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at FIT in Melbourne, Florida, this fall.
Aldrin’s proposal is called Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars. It involves using the Moon, asteroids and the Martian moon Phobos as stepping stones to getting to the surface. He envisages that crews would rotate between Mars and Earth every 10 years. But he stressed that it wouldn’t be “one-way trips;” rather, people would be able to come and go.
“The Pilgrims on the Mayflower came here [the U.S.] to live and stay,” he said, reported the Associated Press. “They didn’t wait around Plymouth Rock for the return trip, and neither will people building up a population and a settlement" on Mars.
Will this be a reality in 25 years? NASA.
On his website, Aldrin explains some more specifics of his plan. In 2026, he envisions that a crew on NASA’s Orion spacecraft could reach an asteroid, using an inflatable Bigelow Aerospace BA330 module as a habitat. This would be followed by bases on the near and far side of the moon, before missions to the Martian moon Phobos begin in the 2030s. Unmanned vehicles would then test landing procedures on Mars, before humans themselves touched down.
“One unique innovation of the mission architecture is to use 'cycler' spacecraft that would travel between Earth and Mars perpetually,” his website says. “The outbound cycler carries three landers with six crew members total.”
Of course, NASA themselves are working on a plan to get to Mars, which is not too dissimilar to Aldrin’s proposal; they plan to visit an asteroid next year, before beginning missions to Mars in the 2030s. However, Aldrin’s proposal includes a return to the Moon and missions to Phobos, things that are not on NASA’s agenda at the moment but are being considered.
Whether NASA would use Aldrin’s plan, which he is hoping for, is debatable. But there’s little doubt that missions to Mars are gathering pace. And, of course, we have Andy Weir’s movie The Martian to look forward to in October, which is a pretty accurate fictionalization of what future Mars missions might look like.
“Step by step – just as Mercury and Gemini made Apollo possible – we move deeper into space to land on Phobos, the inner moon of Mars, all in prelude to a mission to the Red Planet itself!” Aldrin added on his website.