Buzz Aldrin, the man who followed Neil Armstrong onto the moon, has criticized NASA for its approach to Mars missions.
Ars Technica reports that Aldrin thinks NASA is “going about Mars exploration the wrong way,” using the wrong equipment and trying to compete with the private sector in rocket construction. Aldrin believes that NASA is falling behind and failing to use cutting-edge equipment and techniques.
“Somebody needs to say some of these things and get them out into the open.”
Space reports that Aldrin has his own vision for Mars exploration, involving the use of “Mars cyclers:” spacecraft that would cruise perpetually between the Earth and Mars, much as ferries move back and forth between city destinations.
“In recent years, Aldrin has used his astronautics expertise and fame to push a cycler concept that he believes would be the best way to visit and eventually inhabit Mars.”
Aldrin had held off for many years from criticizing NASA in his public lectures, but that changed this week when the second man on the moon spoke at the Humans to Mars conference.
“In his public lectures… Aldrin has largely avoided criticizing the present approach being taken by NASA…That changed at this week’s Humans to Mars conference. In his remarks, Aldrin said NASA should change the approach it has had in place since the 1960s, that of designing and managing development of its own rockets…”
Aldrin painted a picture of an organization stuck in the 1970s, criticizing the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in particular. Aldrin claims the SLS is “based on 1970s technology and the space shuttle rather than more modern concepts.”
Aldrin argues that NASA should stop designing and building its own rockets. It is “competing with the private sector,” the astronaut said scathingly.
“It competes with the private sector… I thought most of us were in the process of learning that the government shouldn’t do that.”
Aldrin proposes an entire organizational restructuring and even a return to the name “NACA” for some parts of NASA, as the split between decision-making and technology-developing bodies becomes more pronounced and other reshuffles take place.
NASA is currently an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States Federal Government.
Aldrin claimed that private aerospace company SpaceX could build a more cost-effective rocket launcher, the Falcon Heavy. SpaceX was founded by Paypal entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Lastly, Aldrin criticized NASA’s Orion spacecraft, saying that it serves little purpose.
Buzz Aldrin also sent out some words to presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, saying that glory awaits the president who can get the United States firmly on the path to Mars, reports Space.
“A president who appeals to our higher angels and takes us closer to the heavenly body we call Mars will not only make history — he or she will [also] be long remembered as a pioneer for mankind to reach, to comprehend and to settle Mars.”
Some scientists believe that study of Mars will be critical in allowing humanity to develop the technology to colonize other planets and/or harsh terrain on earth.
Mars holds the secret that will allow humans to learn how to build communities “anywhere,” reports Pork Network.
“It’s a clean sheet approach that provides reflections on what is really needed to sustain a community somewhere, anywhere. We use cutting-edge emerging technologies, and what you find with all of the controlled conditions and brain power being applied is that there are applications here on Earth.”
Austrian Space Forum president Dr. Gernot Groemer told reporters that there is great potential for cross-fertilization of ideas between the agribusiness sector and researchers involved in Mars exploration.
“What we know about Mars has progressed massively in the past 15 years, and I strongly believe that the first human to walk on Mars is already born. We could see permanent human settlement on the Red Planet several generations from now, and they may not be happy eating canned food. [In addition to that] the way our body processes food is different enough to matter a great deal. A person’s sense of taste changes in zero gravity. There are medical implications to different gravity effects. In our work we’re verifying whether the ideas and designs to survive on Mars work in practice, and the gaps between theory and practice that we observe range from trivial to serious matters.”
[Photo by NASA via Getty Images]