Buzz Aldrin believes it is imperative for the United States to go to Mars in order to once again establish "world leadership."
The benefits, he argues, are great. "We expand human presence outward, which inspires young people and develops the technology that the entire world can use."
The Apollo 11 astronaut is calling for a mission to the Red Planet within two decades, and putting pressure on President Obama to make that proclamation. If the Mars mission does not get the support from the president during the current administration, Aldrin argues, "then [the next] president may not be able to make that commitment."
Aldrin's new book Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration lays out his plan to return to Mars. As second man to ever walk on the Moon, Aldrin makes the case that NASA should not focus on returning there. However, the United States should lead an international effort to return to the Moon, because a lot can be gained that would help in a mission to to Mars he says.
"If we just forgot about the moon, we couldn't develop at the moon the assembly of large bases, because we’re going to do that at Mars"
Watch David's entire interview with former Astronaut Buzz Aldrin above to hear more about his new book and why he thinks the growth of private companies in Space is a good thing.