Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along

Buzz Aldrin wants NASA to go somewhere.

Enlarge / Buzz Aldrin
wants NASA to go somewhere. (credit: Hubert Vestil/Getty
Images)

Just after Memorial Day this year, I began talking regularly
with the pilot of the first spacecraft to land on the Moon. We had
spoken before, but this was different—it seemed urgent. Every
week or two, Buzz Aldrin would call to discuss his frustration with
the state of NASA and his concerns about the looming
50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing
without a lack
of discernible progress to get back.

Even at 89, Aldrin remains remarkably engaged in the aerospace
community, often showing up to meetings and conferences
unannounced. Aldrin asks questions. He talks to the principals. In
the last two years, the aerospace legend has been to the White
House for major space announcements by President Trump, served as
an adviser to the National Space Council, and supported the White
House goal of returning to the Moon by 2024.

But what NASA has been doing to get back there, for the better
part of two decades, just hasn’t been working. President Bush
directed NASA back to the Moon more than 15 years ago, and in one
form or another, NASA has been spending billions of dollars each
year to build a big, heavy spacecraft and a bigger, much heavier
rocket as the foundation for such a return. Along the way, NASA has
enriched a half-dozen large aerospace contractors and kept Congress
happy. But the space agency still can’t even launch its own
astronauts into low-Earth orbit, let alone deep space or the
Moon.

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Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along