Why Buzz Aldrin isn’t crazy about space tourism to Mars

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 10: Astronaut BuzzAldrin attends a gala to celebrate Etihad Airways' world-class, non-stop service between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi at the iconic Beverly House on June 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Etihad Airways)
Buzz Aldrin wants mankind on Mars, but not as tourists. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Buzz Aldrin took to Reddit on Tuesday for an AMA as part of his social media campaign recognizing the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing. (One actual question he was asked: “Have you ever eaten a burrito?”)

Perhaps most interesting was the response of the second man to walk on the moon to a question asking advice he’d give Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX:

I have considered whether a landing on Mars could be done by the private sector. It conflicts with my very strong idea, concept, conviction, that the first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth. They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony / settlement, I call it a “permanence.” A settlement you can visit once or twice, come back, and then decide you want to settle. Same with a colony. But you want it to be permanent from the get-go, from the very first. …

Tourism trips to Mars and back are just not the appropriate way for human beings from Earth — to have an individual company, no matter how smart, send people to Mars and bring them back, it is VERY very expensive. It delays the obtaining of permanence, internationally. Your question referred to a monumental achievement by humanity – that should not be one private company at all, it should be a collection of the best from all the countries on Earth, and the leader of the nation or the groups who makes a commitment to do that in two decades will be remembered throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years in the future of the history of humanity, beginning, commencing, a human occupation of the solar system.

Related reading: Buzz Aldrin calls NASA ‘adrift’

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland | July 8