NASA pioneer astronaut Buzz Aldrin is teaming up with the Florida Institute of Technology(FIT) in establishing a research center that will promote the concept of human colonization of Mars.

Florida Tech officially launched the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute during a signing ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 27, at the university. The new research center will open this fall and it will be led by the legendary Apollo 11 astronaut himself.

Anthony J. Catanese, president and CEO of Florida Tech, said that the institute has long been part of exploration efforts since its founding in 1958. It had served as a "night school for missile men," and was frequented by individuals who were taking part in American's race for space at the Cape Canaveral facility.

Catanese said that it was an honor for Aldrin to take part in the new research initiative, and that he looks forward to meaningful partnerships as the new vision for space begins to unfold.

As part of Aldrin's collaboration with the institute, the pioneer astronaut will join Florida Tech's faculty as the Research Professor of Aeronautics. He will also serve as the Senior Faculty Advisor for the new space institute.

"We welcome Dr. Aldrin to the Florida Tech faculty," T. Dwayne McCay, executive vice president and COO of Florida Tech. "Our entire learning community will benefit from his presence."

The Buzz Aldrin Space Institute will support international and commercial development of resources taken from the moon, which could be used for the eventual human settlement of Mars.

Aldrin's concept, which is called Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars, involves the establishment of pathways for progressive space missions to different points of interest in space, including the cis-lunar space, the moon Phobos, asteroids and ultimately to Mar's surface.

"I'm thrilled to be partnering with FIT in my new home state of Florida," Aldrin said.

"I am proud of my time at NASA with the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 programs but I hope to be remembered more for my contributions to the future. FIT will play a key role in my ongoing legacy and Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars. You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Aside from the establishment of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, Florida Tech will also create the special collection and archives at its Evans library and will document the life of Aldrin.

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