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Buzz Aldrin’s Mission To Mars


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Buzz-AldrinI need to begin this story with an apology. When I told my kids I was taking them to hear Buzz Aldrin speak in Montclair on Sunday, I introduced him as the man who walked on the moon. I should have said that he is the man who wants them to walk on Mars.

Well, not just them. Aldrin–who goes by @TheRealBuzz on Twitter–has spent the 40-plus years since he set foot on the moon trying to convince Washington that America’s next space goal should be to colonize Mars. That’s right: Our kids heading to Mars, just the way the Pilgrims left England for the New World. Sounds crackpot? That’s what a lot of folks thought in 1961 when then President John F. Kennedy told Congress that we were  going to the moon.

Aldrin, a native of Montclair, was in town to be honored at his alma mater, Montclair High School, and to promote his new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration. Watchung Booksellers arranged for Aldrin to speak at the Montclair Public Library, and to sign copies of Mission and Look to the Stars, a book on the history of space exploration for kids.

Mars is Aldrin’s prescription for what has to happen to get people to the red planet. He believes that with shuttle-like vehicles, way stations and a lot of international cooperation, America can lead people to Mars by 2035: That would be 66 years after he and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, which was 66 years after the Wright brothers took flight.

Aldrin has been working hard to make this vision accessible to young people, because they will be the ones carrying it out. He’s joined forces with hipster businessman Richard Branson to promote awareness of Virgin Galactic, and with Axe Deodorant (the brand that all of Verona’s teen boys use) and their Axe Apollo Space Camp. He’s been talking up STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, math), which Verona is going to be expanding in the fall. There’s a lot of material on his Web site dedicated to “Generation Mars“. As he told the kids at the front of the Montclair Library auditorium yesterday, “Recognize what your opportunities are and how you can prepare for what’s ahead.”

Baristanet capture the MHS ceremony on video, and you can watch it here:

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. Here we go, dancing around the 800 lb gorilla in the room again. If the “pilgrims heading for the new world from England” were exposed to the kind of background radiation from space that Mars explorers would be exposed to, they would have arrived dead. Currently, the greatest minds in the world, have no idea how we will ever beat this problem. Star Trek like shields sound wonderful, but we don’t know how to do that, and we can’t launch enough lead to do the job. And don’t start talking to me about magnetic fields, we can’t do that either.

  2. Trust me Virginia, no one would like to pursue going to Mars more than me, and the technology and logistics involved in flying humans there and back is feasible. Your statement is true, however we fully understood the hurdles, and we all agreed that they could be overcome if we threw enough money at them. We understood the radiation problems then as well, and we stopped going to the moon, because we knew the Sun’s 11 year cycle was ramping back up. If the sun decides to burp, in the direction of the Earth, while astronauts are outside the magnetosphere, they die. Ask Buzz, he knows how important solar astronomers where at the time. Have you ever wondered why the ISS orbits so low? It’s not because it’s cheaper and easier to get to, it’s because we have to keep it inside the magnetosphere. More importantly, like I said, the greatest minds on the planet, have no idea how we are going to solve the radiation shielding problem. It will take a quantum leap in power technology, the kind that only exists in science fiction at this point.

  3. Fred, you are not correct. There are several ideas in the works for shielding astronauts, both in transit and on the ground (once they arrive at Mars), so to say that “the greatest minds on the planet have no idea how we are going to solve the radiation shielding problem” is simply not correct. The ideas are not tested and ready for implementation, but they do exist.

  4. Ben, the only viable idea to protect them once they arrive is to bury them deep underground, and the only viable idea to protect them in transit is to make that transit very short, so we don’t have to bother protecting them at all. Otherwise it would require putting them in the center of a 100′ thick ball of lead, and we just can’t launch that. We have no “energy” sheild technology, and small powerful magnetic fields won’t work. The Earths magnetosphere doesn’t work because of local flux density, it works because of its’ enormouse diameter that gently channels radiation around us.


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