By Lethbridge Herald on February 11, 2016.
Retired American astronaut icon Buzz Aldrin sees a future where humanity has set up a permanent home on Mars, with Canada playing a significant role in getting there.
In a Lethbridge Herald exclusive interview, Aldrin spoke from his home in Satellite Beach, Fla., on Thursday morning.
Aldrin was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11 and on July 21, 1969, he became the second person to walk on the moon.
At the time, he described the lunar surface as one of â€œbeautiful desolation,â€ and is credited as being the first person to pee on the moon.
Aldrin, now 86, is a statesman for a global effort in space travel and has championed a plan that would pave the way for a permanent human presence on Mars.
On Feb. 23, Aldrin will be a keynote speaker at the Greatness in Leadership conference at the Enmax Centre.
He said Canada has done some important work in ongoing space endeavours and there is a continued place for that work moving into the future.
â€œCanada has a tremendous role in being able to help pioneer these new achievements,â€ he said. He added Canadaâ€™s relationship with organizations such as the European Space Agency makes them an important partner with many national space organizations around the world.
â€œI anticipate with great welcoming the joining of the Canadian Space Agency with NASA and all the (other nations with interests in space exploration),â€ he said.
Aldrin has also pushed for more open development of space technology, and sees the private sector as an important place for those advancements. He said in those cases, the government could take on an advisory role to assist that development.
â€œThe government needs to aid and assist the producers, like in the early days,â€ he said, noting the growth in aviation that occurred from allowing the private sector to innovate and invent while being advised by government agencies during the early years of the industry.
Aldrin has developed a detailed plan to set up a permanent base on Mars. The plan, called â€œCycling Orbit to Occupy Mars,â€ would involve expanding missions in stages and making use of cycler spacecraft that would perpetually orbit between Mars and Earth, with humans landing on Mars by 2035.
The goal would be to establish a â€œMars Operations Complexâ€ on the Martian moon Phobos, and from there work could begin on a permanent Mars structure.
â€œI hate to boil things down into discrete packages,â€ he said. â€œBut (CPOM) is a sequential evolutionary improvement of intermediate space exploration, science, development, commercial and security. Those are the elements of the space policy and strategy.
â€œThis will be evolving in well-prepared steps to occupy Mars, leading to permanence.â€
â€œAnd we throw in an asteroid visit and a flyby of Venus, all of which are contributing with launch, vehicles and presence,â€ he added.
A major benefit of the plan is that it allows for adaptation and expansion as new technology is developed.
Private partnerships and development could lead the way for a number of areas of innovation that would benefit all groups involved, and ultimately humanity.
â€œNot competing with the private sector, but developing a new and valuable delineation of areas in space,â€ he said. â€œPropulsion, landers, fuelling, depots â€” all that contributing to the launch providers.â€
Ultimately, Aldrin said there is a place for Canada and Canadian businesses at the table with international government agencies and large corporations coming together in the interest of space exploration.
â€œItâ€™s going to really open up many opportunities in Canada and the U.S. to show great solidarity in the most historic endeavour that history has ever witnessed,â€ he said. â€œAnd the contributors will share the great enthusiasm of their participation in what will be recorded in history as the most significant, meaningful expansion of humanity beyond.â€
Aldrin said he is looking forward to coming to Lethbridge and being part of the conference.
â€œIâ€™m really looking forward to communicating interchanges with spacemen and enthusiastic, future-oriented people,â€ he said.
â€œI think that Lethbridge, and this leadership conference, is just an ideal place to begin to involve terms, and explain U.S., Canada, and international rejuvenation of (space exploration).â€