Buzz Aldrin is a very brave man — no doubt about that. But he only went to the moon because (a) he was convinced that the engineers at NASA had covered every foreseeable risk, and (b) that the four-day trip there and back wouldn’t cause him to go mad. Perhaps one should also mention (c) because America wanted to poke Russia in the eye in 1969, when tension between the countries was very high– a propaganda victory.
Buzz Aldrin is now over here, speaking at the London Science Museum, telling young people that Mars awaits them and it’s man’s destiny to go there. But can he guarantee that they won’t go mad on the journey there? It would involve at least 150 days’ travel, cooped up with a few others — or about 300 days if it’s a round trip. The evidence so far from various 6, 12 and 18 months’ simulations in Russia and America is not good. There’ll be dissention along the way with at least one of a group — perhaps you — probably going right round the twist and having to be drugged into a coma to ensure the safety or sanity of the others.
And what to do when you get there? The best would be a walk in a space suit or a trip in a buggy over rocky ground. You’d be able to do all sorts of scientific experiments no doubt, but nothing that couldn’t be done by robots. And how long are you going to stay there? A day or two? If so, there’d be the boredom and the tension of another 150 day’s travel back again?
Man will undoubtedly go to Mars one day and might even try to make the planet habitable again — though that’s exceedingly doubtful. If we do go, we’d have to build a very large comfortable environment there well beforehand. Come off it Buzz!