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Buzz Aldrin quotes
The purpose of going to Mars is for humans to first begin to occupy, permanently, another planet in the solar system. The astronauts or pilgrims, whatever you might call them, are going to be very historically unique human beings.
To send humans back to the moon would not be advancing. It would be more than 50 years after the first moon landing when we got there, and we'd probably be welcomed by the Chinese. But we should return to the moon without astronauts and build, with robots, an international lunar base, so that we know how to build a base on Mars robotically.
What are you going to do with astronauts who first reach the surface of Mars and then turn around and rocket back home-ward? What are they going to do, write their memoirs? Would they go again? Having them repeat the voyage, in my view, is dim-witted. Why don't they stay there on Mars?
All the Chinese have to do is fly around the Moon and back, and they'll appear to have won the return to the Moon with humans. They could put one person on the surface of the Moon for one day and he'd be a national hero.