America’s Space Program

Sustaining America's leadership role in space
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America’s fascination with space is again alive…. We have within our grasp the technology to get everyday citizens into space routinely and safely for the thrill of a once in a lifetime ride and adventure. We also have the technology to cost-effectively return to the Moon again. We’re even at the threshold of being able to affordability get to Mars with manned missions…
Let me say this: every American whose heart beats faster at the news of possible water on the Moon or possible life on Mars or when they hear of an affordable lottery ticket into space for the fun of it, or the chance to safely visit orbiting space resorts…. These Americans know what I’m talking about. So I say let us reawaken these dreams…. Let’s begin the investment. These events are achievable… even within our lifetime..

Buzz Aldrin – Congressional Testimony on America’s Vision for the Future of Space Exploration, 1997.

America’s space program leads the world – primarily due to winning the ‘space race’ of the 1960’s with the Soviet Union. This race started amidst the Cold War when the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957 and sent the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, for one full orbit around the Earth on April 12, 1961. The US reacted and sent its first astronaut, Alan Shepard, into space for a 15-minute suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. Just three weeks later on May 25th, President John F. Kennedy boldly committed America to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade. NASA’s engineers, the aerospace industry and teams of thousands across the country, along with Congressional support and the president’s leadership, developed the rockets and trained the astronauts to reach the moon. On July 16, 1969 the giant Saturn V rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center carrying the Apollo 11 crew, and four days later on July 20th the “Eagle” touched down on the crater-marked lunar landscape. For the first time in the history of the world, mankind set foot upon another planetary surface.

Buzz Aldrin is an integral part of that journey. Since returning from the moon, Buzz has turned his unstoppable energy to advocating for America’s role as the world’s leader in human space exploration. It is, after all, his driving passion. Why? Because …

  • America’s inspiration in Apollo to reach the Moon can be reawakened.
  • Investment in reusable rockets and spacecraft will take us back to the Moon and put humans on Mars.
  • Investment in space leads to global leadership, economic competitiveness and technological spin-offs.
  • Exploration can open the final frontier to citizen explorers and spark an industry of space tourism.
  • Space discovery, of the magnitude of the Apollo moon landings, inspires our youth towards math and science.
  • Discovery of other worlds brings mankind together with that intangible priceless effect of touching our capacity for wonder.
  • Perhaps most importantly and of greatest alarm, America’s leadership in space is at risk.

Space advocacy efforts are needed more than ever as NASA faces a critical crossroads in its transition from the Shuttle program to the next generation rockets and spacecrafts in the face of dwindling Congressional budgetary support. This transition may result in a “gap” period of five years or more when America will have no spacecraft to fly its astronauts into space. America will have no direct access to the $100 billion investment in the International Space Station. The 2004 Vision for Space Exploration calls for a return to the moon to establish operational bases, and human missions to Mars. In November, 2008, Buzz challenged the new administration to announce a bold Kennedyesque goal for America to land humans on one of the moons of Mars within the next decade, by the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2019.

Buzz invites each of you to join him at this critical time in advocating for America’s space program. You can make a difference by learning about Buzz’s initiatives, joining a space advocacy group, writing to your Congressman, and donating to ShareSpace Foundation.

.To me it’s abysmal that it has come to this: after 50 years of NASA, and after putting about $100 billion into the space station, we can’t get our own astronauts to our space station without relying on the Russians. Retain the vision for space exploration. If we turn our backs on the vision again, we’re going to live in a secondary position in human space flight for the rest of the century..

Buzz Aldrin – Telegraph, June 29, 2008.

.We need to spell out what we’re doing not in NASA decadal intervals, but in political 4-year intervals that start January 20 of the post-election year. Why four-year intervals? Because that’s when the president comes into office to validate the next four-year programs. We can’t just have successive new space programs every 4 years; we need to look ahead eight or nine 4-year programs – chart out in that grid what it is we think we can do.

The first interval started in ’01 and ended in ’05. We’ve launched the Vision for Space Exploration. In the second interval, we return to flight, and we may send some robots to the moon. The third interval will complete the space station and retire the orbiter. The fourth interval, we’ll begin to fly the exploration vehicle, and perhaps set up a facility close to the moon, an L1 station. The fifth interval, from 2017 to 2021, that’s when we should be landing on the moon. By the eighth interval, in 2033, we ought to have reached the moons of Mars, and then Mars, and then establish permanence on Mars..

Buzz Aldrin – Excerpts from MSNBC July 19, 2004
and Astronomy, May 2004.

.Mars is there, waiting to be reached..

Buzz Aldrin – Psychology Today, May/June 2001.

.We really need to understand the human purpose there. It shouldn’t be one-two-three missions, the way we did with Apollo. I think the reason to go to Mars is to establish a permanent colony. If we’re not willing to do that then we need to defer—which I don’t think is acceptable—and do things with robots until we are ready to send people there and not bring them back right away. The more you think about that, the more economical, the more psychological, the more purposeful the whole endeavor becomes. You’re there to establish a foothold..

Buzz Aldrin – Popular Mechanics, August 14, 2008.

.The most important decision we’ll have to make about space travel is whether to commit to a permanent human presence on Mars. Without it, we’ll never be a true space-faring people..

Buzz Aldrin – Popular Mechanics, September 2007.

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