Thursday May 11, 2017

Buzz Aldrin: Retire the ISS so We Can Put Our Boots on Mars

The outspoken engineer and former astronaut tells NASA that they need to get rid of the International Space Station as soon as possible if they hope to accomplish any kind of Mars mission. That’s because the ISS costs a pretty hefty $3.5 billion to maintain every year. While the ISS is supposedly crucial to NASA’s Mars plan, Aldrin seems to be focused on space stations/commercial outposts built by private companies utilizing simple but efficient means of transportation for people and cargo, such as cyclers.

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Aldrin foresees these various cycler iterations enabling a crewed mission to a near-Earth asteroid by 2020 and a Venus flyby by 2024. If all goes well, the first future Mars settlers could launch in the early 2030s, he said. And they will be settlers, not just visitors, if Aldrin's vision comes to pass. "Let's be certain that we've developed a sustainable plan to stay on Mars," he said. "No flags and footprints this time." The ISS is currently funded through 2024, and officials of NASA, the Russian federal space agency and other partners have floated the possibility of extending the $100 billion outpost's life through 2028.