“We must retire the ISS as soon as possible,” the former Apollo 11 moonwalker said Tuesday (May 9) during a presentation at the 2017 Humans to Mars conference in Washington, D.C. “We simply cannot afford $3.5 billion a year of that cost.” Instead, Aldrin said, NASA should continue to hand over activities in low Earth orbit (LEO) to private industry partners. Indeed, the space agency has been encouraging that move by awarding contracts to companies such as SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Boeing to ferry cargo and crew to and from the ISS. [Buzz Aldrin’s Visions for Mars (Video)]
Establishing private outposts in LEO is just the first step in Aldrin’s plan for Mars colonization, which depends heavily on “cyclers” — spacecraft that move continuously between two cosmic destinations, efficiently delivering people and cargo back and forth.
Aldrin foresees these various cycler iterations enabling a crewed mission to a near-Earth asteroid by 2020 and a Venus flyby by 2024. If all goes well, the first future Mars settlers could launch in the early 2030s, he said.
And they will be settlers, not just visitors, if Aldrin’s vision comes to pass.
The ISS is currently funded through 2024, and officials of NASA, the Russian federal space agency and other partners have floated the possibility of extending the $100 billion outpost’s life through 2028. NASA officials have repeatedly said that the ISS is a key part of the agency’s “Journey to Mars” vision, which aims to get astronauts to the vicinity of the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s.
This article and images was originally posted on [Space.com] May 10, 2017 at 05:40AM