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Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars Would ‘Celebrate American Exceptionalism’

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses beside the real Apollo 10 command module at the Science Museum in London on Feb. 28, 2016. (Anthony Devlin/PA)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk the moon, said more investment in space exploration coupled with a decision to reach Mars by 2040 would “celebrate American exceptionalism” like no other program or policy in place today.

Prior to his speech, Aldrin’s publicist said a recent post on Nasawatch.com is not true, telling PJM that Aldrin is not advising GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on space.

“Listen closely to my challenge: The president who appeals to our higher angels and takes us closer to the heavenly body we call Mars will not only make history – he will long be remembered as a pioneer for mankind to reach, to comprehend and settle Mars,” Aldrin said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“If not now, when? And if not us, who? I appeal to you, take up the challenge and bring us all along. From the wild blue yonder with giant leaps to this waiting island in the blackness of space. This is the time. This is our time. This is your time,” he added.

Aldrin referred to a program called “Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars,” which he said is an engineering approach, technically sound and ready to be implemented.

“The physics is all there. Moreover, continuing refinements at Purdue, MIT, and Florida Tech confirm that – if we start now – successful human landings for continuous occupancy can reach Mars by 2040,” he said, explaining that the program could be organized progressively with a decision made to go now.

Aldrin said cycling spacecraft along with two or more Mars landers with “redundant propulsion will intercept the cycler swinging-by Earth for a six-month transfer to Mars or its moon Phobos.”

According to Aldrin, these expanded activities are “much improved” over Apollo.

“Choosing to lead with various cycler systems not only puts America back to the forefront of human space exploration, but offers a significant way to bring together all other space-faring nations, especially China – and those others we can bring forward to a worldwide sharing for the greatest human endeavor in history,” he said.

“Presidential leadership in this initiative would improve, extend and celebrate American exceptionalism, in a way that no other policy or program could.”

Aldrin told the audience that most of them will outlive him but America’s leadership legacy in space “will outlive us all.”

“It is now, on our watch, in this moment, at this exact time, that we must prove ourselves equal to this challenge – and get this courageous, exploring, spacefaring nation back on track, and out to the surface of Mars, to continue mankind’s unending legacy of exploration,” he said.

Aldrin’s spokesperson said he was not available for any interviews at CPAC.