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Buzz Aldrin: Retire the ISS to Reach Mars

Accepted submission by takyon at 2017-05-10 22:56:48

Buzz Aldrin has said that NASA should stop spending $3.5 billion per year on the International Space Station and relunquish low Earth orbit activities to private companies, such as SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Bigelow Aerospace, and Axiom Space. This would allow for the funding of "cyclers" to enable a base on the moon and eventually a permanent presence on Mars: []

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. "The foundation of human transportation is the cycler," the 87-year-old former astronaut said. "Very rugged, so it'll last 30 years or so; no external moving parts."

Step two involves the international spaceflight community coming together to build cyclers that ply cislunar space, taking people on trips to the moon and back. Such spacecraft, and the activities they enable, would allow the construction of a crewed lunar base, where humanity could learn and test the techniques required for Mars colonization, such as how to manufacture propellant from local resources, Aldrin said. Then would come Earth-Mars cyclers, which Aldrin described as "an evolutionary development" of the prior cyclers.

[...] 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.

Is the ISS a key part of the "Journey to Mars" or a key roadblock?

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