The planet is a good 250-million miles away and poses a number of challenges for human mission, but astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin believes that getting to Mars is actually “the easy part.”
Dr. Aldrin, who in 1969 became the second man to step on the moon, said that humans could reach Mars by 2040, as led by the generation born around year 2000s. The 86-year-old also believes a global collaboration and big business’ help could make a human colony possible on the Red Planet.
Getting to the planet is one thing – “very realistic,” according to Dr. Aldrin – while staying there is another.
"That is the easy part. We know how to do that, we know how to get people there. It is being able to sustain yourself,” he said, speaking at the Science Museum in London, United Kingdom.
He explained that a human colony on Mars would require a base where people could be self-sufficient, with the moon of Earth and Mars alike as possible staging posts. Continuing “cyclical” transport is also deemed necessary to bring people and resource to and from Mars.
Humans on Mars cannot simply be left on their own, proceeded Dr. Aldrin, citing estimates that those on Mars would only be able to produce up to 20 percent of what they need for sustenance. “We need to supply them continually,” he emphasized.
Unlike with the moon landings of NASA that quickly brought people back to Earth, it is only sound to keep a number of bases on Mars for new batches of visitors to use and develop, with the astronaut looking to concentrate efforts on a major center on Mars – eventually a “self-sustaining system.”
Another crucial aspect is the mental impact of the Mars mission, particularly the possibility of spending the rest of one’s life there. It could get quite tough when people regret their decision and their resulting dysfunction affects others in the colony, Dr. Aldrin warned, thinking several hundreds of people could live on Mars and proliferate there.
Finally, the astronaut believed one nation alone could not do everything – the United States, for instance, should work with and not merely compete with countries like China, as well as get Europe and Japan on board the moon landing plan.
This May, an interview with Dr. Aldrin will be shown for BBC World News’ Horizons program.
In early February, a U.S. house subcommittee urged NASA to create and present a solid plan to make the Mars mission by 2030 possible. The space agency is considered pressed for time, given the possibility that a space mission-unfriendly administration could take over the White House next year.