Apollo 11 astronaut and American badass Buzz Aldrin , if NASA wants really wants to reach Mars any time soon, the organization should abandon the International Space Station project.
Aldrin says it’s the best way to devert valuable resources (MONEY).
“We must retire the ISS as soon as possible,” Aldrin said, according toSpace.com “We simply cannot afford $3.5 billion a year of that cost.”
Aldrin made the remark on Tuesday at the 2017 Humans to Mars conference in Washington, D.C.
Instead, Aldrin said NASA ought to farm out low Earth orbit (LEO) projects to private companies, such as SpaceX, Boeing, and Blue Origin. Those sorts of companies—which already handle some resupply duties for the ISS—could even develop their own LEO space stations, potentially in coordination with China, which is planning to put its own midsized space station in orbit around 2023.
Aldrin has proposed a plan to land humans on Mars by 2035, which revolves around the idea of “cycling pathways”—spacecraft that make continuous journeys between Earth and Mars, almost like a shared satellite. In his plan, separate spaceships carrying crew and equipment between the worlds would perform a flying rendezvous with the “cyclers,” linking up with them as they zoom by and catching a ride to the next planet. (As you can see in the image above, he’s also borrowed a catchphrase from Total Recall to promote the plan.)
“The foundation of human transportation is the cycler,” the 87-year-old former astronaut said. “Very rugged, so it’ll last 30 years or so; no external moving parts.”
NASA has a different plan for getting to Mars and the ISS. Thus far, the ISS has been part of the first phase of the project, which includes testing and developing partnerships with private companies. Furthermore, as Space.com reports, “NASA officials have repeatedly said that the ISS is a key part of the agency’s ‘Journey to Mars’ vision.”
In March, members of the House Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space testified that extending U.S. participation in the activities of the ISS beyond the existing 2024 commitment date might not be prudent if getting to Mars is a priority. Right now, NASA spends around $3.5 billion annually on the ISS. The committee’s Chair, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, commented during that hearing that “Tax dollars spent on the ISS will not be spent on destinations beyond low Earth orbit, including the moon and Mars. What opportunities will we miss if we maintain the status quo?”