National Press Club

Buzz Aldrin tells NPC Book Rap He Wants Humans to Colonize Mars

May 12, 2013 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver |

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin discusses his book "Mission to Mars" at a National Press Club Book Rap, May 9, 2013.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin discusses his book "Mission to Mars" at a National Press Club Book Rap, May 9, 2013.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

One of 12 men to walk on the Moon and return safely to Earth told a sold-out National Press Club Book Rap May 10 that the astronauts that eventually go to Mars should not plan on returning to Earth.

“The cost of bringing people back in terms of having the fuel there to be able to bring them back is not in keeping with the idea of establishing a permanent growing settlement,” said Buzz Aldrin, author of "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration." “If you are not ready to do that, to commit to do that; don’t go then until you are.”

Aldrin’s idea envisions a step-by-step international approach to getting and staying on Mars. He would include all countries with the United States leading the effort.

Leonard David, Aldrin’s co-author and a retired journalist whose beat was space interviewed Aldrin for the presentation at the National Press Club. David stressed that Aldrin is not abandoning the Moon in favor of Mars. Rather, the Moon would be used to test ideas that would make a permanent settlement on Mars possible.

People have scoffed at Aldrin’s idea saying that people will not want to go to Mars and never return but Aldrin disagrees noting that thousands of people have signed up for a commercial mission sponsored by Dennis Tito.

Going to Mars is part of Aldrin’s “unified space agenda” that includes exploration, science, development, commerce and security. Each of these builds on the one before it, Aldrin said, noting that “If I had put security first, I would have been labeled a war monger.”

Aldrin is optimistic that his vision can gain traction in the coming years as the fiftieth anniversaries of the lunar landings approach. Since the anniversaries straddle the 2020 presidential election, Aldrin believes that if the next president embraces Aldrin’s ideas, then that person can use the topic as a re-election platform, but if not, then the opponent in that election can use it as a campaign theme. In either case, it should be relevant, he said.

During his presentation, Aldrin gave the back story of the famous photo of him descending the steps of Air Force One with President Barack Obama. He said he wanted to be in Florida for the president’s speech and he thought a ride on the presidential jet would give him an opportunity to speak with Obama about his space vision but the only time he saw the president was as they descended the stairs.

Joe Luchok of the Club Book & Author Committee introduced Aldrin and David noting that Aldrin would have been famous even if he had not been part of the first Moon landing because Aldrin was the first person to walk in space.

The Book Rap was a fundraiser for the National Press Club Journalism Institute.