Aldrin: Next President Should Try to Colonize Mars Within 20 Years

“We explore or we expire. It is built into our human genes, the curiosity to look elsewhere to find better locations. What’s on the other side of the mountain? What will enable me to begin to continue to explore? Then sometimes people say we want to preserve the human race against pestilence, nuclear war, the impact of large objects,” Aldrin said.

“If a big one is coming, a big one, really big, the latest thinking – and I had to listen to some of these experts – is we’re going to use nuclear detonations with shockwaves, not to blow this thing into little pieces, that makes things a whole lot worse but supposedly it can be diverted by a big shockwave. The last time I checked NASA did not have any of those. NASA doesn’t have people on alert but the Defense Department does -- and that to me, the highest level of national security, is where our planetary protection should be located,” he added.

During the event, a member of the audience asked Aldrin about the advantages or disadvantages of government agencies and private companies venturing deeper into space.

“Both of them – it’s how they are going to get along, and they must get along. We can’t do things with just government. We’ve done enough government projects to know that usually the private the sector can do a better job,” Aldrin said to applause from the audience.