Aldrin: We Can Reach Mars, and Soon

Buzz Aldrin, one of the two astronauts to walk on the moon during the first moon landing, gave an inspiring speech arguing for America’s need to go to Mars and expand its space program.

Although many had left the room following the last panel of the day, Aldrin’s message was nevertheless energetic and positive. He talked about how America’s goal during his generation was reaching the moon. He views the next step, for this generation to achieve, as reaching Mars.

“Science and exploration require a certain kind of leadership, one defined by courage,” Aldrin said.

Aldrin posed the question “If Americans don’t lead there others will.” Reflecting the speech of President John F. Kennedy “We Choose to Go to the Moon Speech,” Aldrin asked “If not now, when? And if not us, who?”

It is important to recognize that these goals that Aldrin is speaking of are not far off. It is very much possible that “successful human landings for continued occupancy can occur as early as 2040.” By achieving this goal of landing on Mars, Aldrin indicated that “America’s legacy in leadership will crystallized[…] a legacy that will outlive us all.” Furthermore, he stated that the president who undertook this endeavor would be remembered throughout the annals of history as a “pioneer of mankind.”

Physics backs him up. Aldrin talked about the importance of cycling pathways which would propel a craft between Earth and Mars. The plan would work by launching first generation inflatable exploration modules. Efforts to establish a lunar base would be necessary in order for this plan to be successful. This research being done at Purdue, MIT, and the Florida Institute of Technology has produced findings which show that we currently possess great potential and the beginning of the necessary knowledge in order to participate in a successful flight to Mars by following this strategy.

Aldrin talked about the need to use material that was both reusable and renewable on the spacecraft, stating his firm belief that reaching Mars in the coming years is an entirely feasible goal.

Finally, Aldrin talked about how this would reassert American exceptionalism, while at the same time creating strong ties between the United States and other space faring nations, in particular China. Aldrin concluded with a quote from Ronald Reagan, one quite appropriate for the tone of his speech:

“We [Americans] have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”