Former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step foot on the moon is calling on the US to stop funding the International Space Station and instead use the billions of dollars being spent on it each year to send people to the planet Mars.

“We must retire the ISS as soon as possible,” the former Apollo 11 moonwalker said Tuesday (May 9) during a presentation at the 2017 Humans to Mars conference in Washington, D.C. “We simply cannot afford $3.5 billion a year of that cost.”

Establishing private outposts in LEO is just the first step in Aldrin’s plan for Mars colonization, which depends heavily on “cyclers” — spacecraft that move continuously between two cosmic destinations, efficiently delivering people and cargo back and forth.

“The foundation of human transportation is the cycler,” the 87-year-old former astronaut said. “Very rugged, so it’ll last 30 years or so; no external moving parts.”

And they will be settlers, not just visitors, if Aldrin’s vision comes to pass. “Let’s be certain that we’ve developed a sustainable plan to stay on Mars,” he said. “No flags and footprints this time.” –

The International Space Station is paid for via a partnership between the United States, Russia and over 10 other nations with funding already in place until the year 2024.

Featured image of Buzz Aldrin by AFP