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Mars a target for human migration

23 May 20190 comments

The last surviving astronaut from Apollo 11 – the first manned mission to the Moon – says mankind should look at migrating to Mars.

Writing in a string of US newspapers, former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin says Mars should become a focus of space exploration and settlement.

“Mars is waiting to be discovered, not by clever robots and rovers – though I support NASA’s unmanned missions — but by living, breathing, walking, talking, caring and daring men and women,” Mr Aldrin wrote.

“To make that happen, members of Congress, the Trump administration and the American public must care enough to make human exploration missions to Mars a national priority,” he wrote.

“To be clear, I do not mean spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a few hijinks or joy rides, allowing those who return to write books, tweet photos and talk of the novelty. I mean something very different.

“The United States’ eyes – and our unified commitment – should focus on opening the door, in our time, to the great migration of humankind to Mars. Books aplenty have been written about how to do this, and they have inspired government and non-government leaders to make lofty plans. But plans without a detailed architecture, and without that ‘next step’ into the future, are just fantasy,” Mr Aldrin said.

“The next step would build on our early lunar landings and establish permanent settlements on the moon. In the meantime, preparations for permanent migration to the red planet can be made.

All of this is within reach for humans alive now, but it starts with a unified next step in space. The nation best poised to make it happen is the United States,” he said.

“Americans are good at writing fantasy, and incomparable at making the fantastic a reality. We did it with Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo – and in thousands of other ways. It is time we get down to blueprints, architecture and implementation, and to take that next step – a sustainable international return to the moon, directly charting a pathway to Mars.

“Last month, Vice President Mike Pence announced that we are headed back to the moon. I am with him, in spirit and aspiration.

“Having been there, I can say it is high time we returned. When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and I went to the moon 50 years ago this July, we did so with a mission. Apollo 11 aimed to prove America’s can-do commitment to space exploration, as well as its national security and technological superiority. We did all that. We also ‘Came in Peace for all Mankind’. More of that is needed now.

“Just as President John F. Kennedy is remembered for starting our nation’s drive to the moon, where Neil and I left footprints, this administration and this Congress would be remembered decades forward for putting humans permanently on the moon and Americans on Mars – for making human footprints in red dust and subsequent migration possible.

“In a world of division and distraction, this mission is unifying — for all Americans and for all humankind,” Mr Aldrin wrote.

So, I am personally glad we are headed back to the moon. But my eyes drift higher, to the red orb that, even now, awaits an American flag and plaque that reads: ‘We Come in Peace for All Mankind’,” he wrote.

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Laurie Nowell 
AMES Australia Senior Journalist