I respect Buzz Aldrin. He, and Neil Armstrong, the first human beings to ever walk upon the surface of the Moon, were brave men. After all, there was a likely possibility that they would never come back from that mission, that they would perish 240,000 miles away from planet Earth.
The American funded NASA Apollo Moon program, conducted during the late 1960’s, culminating in landing men on the Moon, was costly, difficult and exceedingly dangerous. As Mr. Aldrin explains, “First of all, what got us there was the tireless effort of some 400,000 people who shared a universal dream.”
Yes, it was all of that together with many $billions of dollars in taxpayer money, which Mr. Aldrin neglects to mention. And just what exactly did we American taxpayers get, (aside from bragging rights), for all that effort and all those $billions of dollars?
Aldrin candidly answers that question: “Back in July 1969, I stood on the talcum-like lunar dust just a few feet from our home away from home, Eagle, the lunar module that transported Neil Armstrong and me to the bleak, crater-pocked moonscape…. Standing there and soaking in the view, I called it as I saw it: "magnificent desolation."’
“As Neil and I walked upon the surface of the moon at Tranquility Base, we satisfied a vision held by humankind for centuries,” Aldrin added. “And as inscribed on the plaque fastened to the ladder of our lander: "We Came in Peace for All Mankind."’
So the short answer to the compelling question is:
No gold; no silver; no fertile land; no abundant resources whatsoever; nothing at all of any tangible value; only a big sphere of dust and rocks; and some pretty pictures of "magnificent desolation," plus a “feeling of awe” at the fact that we satisfied “a vision held by humankind for centuries” to put a man on the moon.
“America's triumph was viewed as a success for all humankind,” Aldrin exudes. “People expressed their collective pride by declaring ‘We did it!’ -- There was an aura of ownership of the achievement.’”
Yes we did it. That was 45 years ago and the average American taxpayer has still received no tangible benefit from spending $billions of dollars to put human beings on the surface of the Moon for a few hours so that they could hop around in the low gravity environment, hit a few golf balls, and marvel at the lovely view of mother Earth way out there in the black endless vacuum of space.
“Standing on that harsh, desolate, yet magnificent terrain, stealing precious moments, I looked back at Earth. Everything I knew and loved lay suspended on a far away and fragile blue sphere that was engulfed by the blackness of space.” says Aldrin. “I couldn't have imagined anything more desolate -- knowing it hadn't changed in hundreds of thousands of years. You couldn't find any place like that on Earth. The airlessness; Brilliant sunlight illuminated the dust, which was everywhere.”
That’s right, Buzz. Aside from the pretty view, there is really nothing at all to love on the surface of the Moon. There’s no atmosphere, no oxygen, no water, no plants, animals -- nothing that we all know and love here on Earth. You see, the fact is that human beings are not adapted to live on the Moon. In order to live on the Moon we’d have to first bring all the things that we need to survive from the Earth.
Despite that costly lesson in economics, and unnecessary exercise in hubris, Buzz Aldrin now says that we American taxpayers should be doing exactly the same thing, only this time by sending a bunch of human beings to the surface of Mars. Of course, it’s easy for him to say. The $billions won’t be coming out of his pocket.
“For America, another destination is calling,” declares Aldrin. America's longer-term goal should be permanent human presence on Mars… The moment to begin could be on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's touchdown on the moon… We can make a courageous, Kennedyesque commitment to America's future in deep space. The U.S. President could utter these momentous words: '‘I believe this nation should commit itself, within two decades, to commencing an America-led, permanent presence on the planet Mars.’"
I say: Why?
Not once does Mr. Aldrin explain exactly what the average American taxpayer will get – how we will benefit, that is -- from the folly of sending human beings to the surface of Mars, another desolate orb in space just like the Moon.
He’s calling for us to put up the “funding,” but not bothering to mention the tangible payoff justifying the enormous investment.
Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon and we still have nothing tangible to show for it aside from a few pleasant nostalgic memories of American space cadets on the Moon.
Now he’s mooning over Mars.