Buzz Aldrin: 'Earth isn't the only world for us anymore'
By Morgan Whitaker
Oct 6th, 2015 at 10:00AM
In honor of World Space Week, world famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin shared his dream for the future of space travel with AOL.com.
First of all, I want to salute the efforts of the World Space Week that embraces the activities of some 80 countries around the globe. This initiative helps focus attention by everyone to the innumerable space exploration events that continue to surprise, puzzle, and motivate all of us year after year.
On one hand, we celebrate each year the solid progress of international space science and technology that helps to improve the human condition – not only to make Earth a better place, but also to stretch our collective imaginations beyond low Earth orbit to worlds beyond.
I am fortunate to have been on the first landing crew to step onto and explore the "magnificent desolation" that is the Moon – and it's been over 45 years ago!
Since the Apollo 11 landing in July 1969, I have had a long-held belief that Earth isn't the only world for us anymore. In my view, we must all strive for a continuously expanding human presence in space.
See photos of the Apollo 11 moon landing:
Secondly, I see America's global leadership role in space as one that that translates into it being a global "team player" for space. That includes the U.S. collaborating with India, China, South Korea and other spacefaring nations to strengthen an American-led international permanence on the planet Mars.
And there's much work to be done. We need to spark global thinking and support for building a sustained human presence on the Red Planet.
And what does it take to do that? It takes vision and a need to cultivate space program projects focused on Mars with achievable stepping stones.
For my part, I have been blueprinting a vision for the Red Planet: Establishing Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars. When I look into the coming years, I envision a sequential buildup of a cycling spaceship network. The Earth, the Moon, and Mars become interlaced and will be a busy nucleus of people, cargo and commerce that navigate throughout the inner Solar System.
The challenge ahead for all of us is not only monumental, but historic. Similarly, Apollo 11 symbolized the ability to envisage a truly path-breaking idea, prioritize it, create the technology to advance that inspiration ... and then ride it to a finishing point – the Moon.
But the first footfalls on Mars will signal an "earth-shattering" milestone. That is, by accomplishing that goal -- and then building upon that first step – it will represent a global, human enterprise that required tenacity matched with technology.
After Mars ... what next?
Humanity then has the ability to reach from the Red Planet into the resource-rich bounty of the Martian satellites and the nearby asteroids. These invaluable resources can be tapped to sustain increasing numbers of Martian settlers from Earth.
From there, it's quite literally the stars.
Thanks to such undertakings as World Space Week, the quest to expand our frontiers into space becomes a shared vision.
My last thought and a take home message: No dream is too high for those with their eyes in the sky!
PHOTOS: Buzz Aldrin through the years
Buzz Aldrin, best known for his Apollo 11 moonwalk, holds a doctoral degree in astronautics and continues to wield influence as an international advocate of space science and planetary exploration. Aldrin and co-author, Leonard David, wrote Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration, published in 2013 by the National Geographic Society. Aldrin's new children's book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, co-authored with Marianne Dyson, was published this September. This is an unsponsored opinion post. The opinions and information expressed belong to the author.
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