Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is still heavily involved in space exploration even now, at 85 years old. The Buzz Aldrin Space Institute will be housed at the Florida Institute of Technology, better known as Florida Tech, which is about 40 miles south of NASA’s Cape Kennedy Space Center in Melbourne, Florida.
The Space Institute will be an opportunity to expand Aldrin’s long-standing program for supporting space exploration. That program has focused on human space flights, robotics, and general science funding. Looking forward, Aldrin wants to focus on manned missions to Mars, with some kind of permanent settlement there by 2040. He’d also like to see manned missions to Earth’s moon, which hasn’t been visited since 1972, as well as an outpost on one of Mars’s moons.
In addition to the new Institute, Aldrin will be taking a position at Florida Tech itself. He will be senior advisor at the Institute, while also serving as a research professor of aeronautics, though he will not be teaching.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about manned trips to Mars as well as return trips to the Earth’s moon. Many astronomer and physicists, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, have spoken out in support of manned missions to Mars, and NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been an Internet darling ever since it landed on the red planet three years ago. The idea of going to Mars, once the domain of pulp science fiction, has gotten a serious shot in the arm of late. Aldrin, who still commands a lot of respect among the kinds of people interested in funding space exploration, will likely be able to help keep that momentum going.