Colonizing Mars is on everybody's to-do list these days. NASA plans to send astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s — and SpaceX will unveil its plans for a future Mars settlement later this year. Now, famous Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin is aiming for our planetary neighbor as well. The 85-year-old moonwalking astronaut just inaugurated the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). Its goal: to occupy Mars someday.
Aldrin and Florida Tech President Anthony J. Catanese formalized the institute on Thursday at the FIT campus. The program will be open for students this fall. Those enrolled will research ways to establish a colony on Mars — which is going to take a lot of work. Aldrin says we'll have to conduct other types of space missions before we can head to the planet. He referred to this concept as "Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars," which means the institute will come up with ways to use the Moon and its resources to get to Mars. Aldrin thinks we need to first visit lunar orbit, asteroids, and Mars' largest moon Phobos before we can set foot on the Martian surface.
Aldrin says we'll have to conduct other types of space missions before we can head to the planet
Any valuable research or engineering ideas produced through the institute could then be used by NASA to further its Mars initiative. "I expect that the Space Institute will, I hope, feed its inputs into NASA through the NASA Advisory Council," Aldrin said at the program's inaugural event.
Aldrin is best known for being the second man in the world to walk on the Moon. Ever since his retirement from NASA in 1971, he has been a vocal space advocate, long calling for the colonization of Mars. In an op-ed for The New York Times, he wrote that the Moon should be used as a stepping stone to get to the planet; NASA could set up establishments in or around the Moon, he said, and then use those outposts as starting points for a journey to Mars. "I see the Moon in a far different light — not as a destination but more a point of departure," he wrote.