Taxi! Take me to Mars

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, wants to send astronauts to Mars by taxi.
The shuttling cab would link up with a mothership flying on a perpetual voyage around the sun.
Space hero Buzz, who flew on Apollo 11 in 1969, says it beats Nasa’s own plans for an interplanetary mission and will help establish a permanent colony on the red planet.
Buzz, 76, rejects as “extremely expensive” the agency’s official plans to fly a spaceship on a direct six-month voyage to our cosmic neighbour as part of President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration.
Instead he wants first to put an empty spacecraft into a permanent 26-month long orbit around the sun, with a flightpath that would regularly bring it past the Earth and Mars.
Once in this orbit, the craft, which Buzz calls a Cycler, would fly under its own momentum at 27,000mph without any need for refuelling.
Astronauts would lift off from Florida in a space taxi to dock with the Cycler as it speeds past Earth.
Five months later, as the two spacecraft aproach Mars, the taxi would separate from its mothership and land on the planet where a base would already have been established by robot spacecraft.
After a 44-month stay, the astronauts’ taxi would take off and link up with a second Cycler flying low over Mars which would bring them back to Earth. They would undock as they neared Earth and land.
Unmanned space freighters would keep the Cyclers stocked with supplies for the astronauts’ long voyages. and fuel and oxygen for the astronauts could be produced from frozen water on the Moon and Mars.
Buzz reveals his plan, produced with the help of top space engineers, in the US magazine Popular Mechanics.
He says: “Once in place, a system of cycling spacecraft, with its dependable schedule and low sustaining cost, would open the door for routine travel to Mars and a permanent human presence on the red planet.”

© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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