Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon in July 1969 in this photo snapped by Neil Armstrong.
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon in July 1969 in this photo snapped by Neil Armstrong. Image: NASA

On July 20, 1969, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin ScD ’63 made history when he became the second American to set foot on the moon. Forty-five years later, the former astronaut says it’s time to send people on a one-way trip to Mars.

In a recent opinion piece for Time, Aldrin asks, “Are we prepared as a nation to take the necessary steps to explore Mars with the eventual goal of establishing a manned settlement on that planet? To me, the answer should be a resounding ‘yes.'”

Aldrin compares his vision of a Mars settlement to the voyage of the Pilgrims, who permanently settled and lived out their lives in America. He fears that quick round trips between Earth and the red planet would be cost-prohibitive, and ultimately lose funding.

The self-described global statesman maintains a busy schedule, traveling the country advocating for space exploration, authoring books, running his ShareSpace Foundation, and maintaining an active website.

Apollo 11 astronauts, still in their quarantine van, are greeted by their wives upon arrival at Ellington Air Force Base on July 27, 1969. Image: NASA
Apollo 11 astronauts, still in their quarantine van, are greeted by their wives upon arrival at Ellington Air Force Base on July 27, 1969. Image: NASA

Aldrin has also started a social media campaign, #Apollo45, inviting members of the public to share their memories of where they were when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. After all, he points out, he and fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins were held in quarantine after their trip, while the rest of the world celebrated. “We missed the whole thing.”

Read more about Aldrin’s plan for a Mars mission at the Washington Post.

Explore the archives: At MIT, Aldrin wrote about his hopes for space exploration in his PhD thesis.

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