Published: June 1, 2015 By

In CU-Boulder visit, Buzz Aldrin says it’s all about Mars.

Buzz Aldrin on stage

No one would say Buzz Aldrin thinks small.

In a March 3 visit to CU-Boulder, the pioneering moonwalker stumped for one of his favorite causes — the human colonization of Mars.

“We can begin as early as 2018,” Aldrin, 85, told a capacity crowd at Macky Auditorium.

Lest anyone think his long-standing desire to reach the Red Planet had diminished with age, he specified that humans should — and could — establish a “permanent presence on Mars” by 2040, and described a plan for making it happen through a series of way stations.

Aldrin walked the moon on July 21, 1969, following Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong onto the surface. They were the first humans to do it.

The audience burst into a standing ovation the moment Aldrin arrived on the Macky stage.

The former Air Force fighter pilot once known as “Dr. Rendezvous” described key moments of his Apollo 11 journey, including the descent to the moon’s surface, the blank darkness of the lunar sky and a famous picture Armstrong took of him. In it, Armstrong and the lunar landing craft are reflected in the visor of Aldrin’s helmet.

“Why is this picture so great?” said Aldrin. “I have three words: location, location, location.”

Aldrin was the guest of the Distinguished Speakers Board.

His plan for reaching Mars involves a series of floating and anchored way stations, including a colony on the moon, which he called “an affordable stepping stone.”

Asked where humans should go after they reach the Red Planet, he said, “I think we’ll have our hands full with Mars.

Photography by Casey A. Cass