Moon-walker Buzz Aldrin sets his sights on Mars

It's been four decades since his famous moon walk, but Aldrin has still got the moves, and he's using his fame to urge people to make a commitment to reaching the Red Planet.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Buzz Aldrin at the kickoff of PayPal's galactic payments initiative. James Martin/CNET

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Astronaut Buzz Aldrin says he's not very good at handling his personal finances, but he knows the ability to pay for things while in space is an important part of getting humans on Mars.

When asked about his role in PayPal's new galactic money transfers initiative, announced Thursday, Aldrin said he's not taking an active role because he's leaving problems associated with financing and transactions to the experts.

"I probably didn't do too well in those subjects -- my bank account kind of reflects that -- but I do think that there are great opportunities for people to get involved in all the aspects to this," he said at a PayPal press conference hosted at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.

Though he took those famous almost-first steps -- he was the second man on the moon -- more than 40 years ago, Aldrin knows he's still got the star power to promote the colonization of Mars. While lending his name and presence to PayPal for its charge to create ways to make payments from space, Aldrin also plugged his new book, "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration," his role as a space ambassador for AXE body spray ("For you young men out there, if you want to attract the ladies, you should use this fragrance," he told the crowd), and his Twitter handle, @TheRealBuzz.

"I'm the real Buzz Aldrin," he announced as he started to speak, draping a T-shirt with the same phrase over the podium. Wearing a space-themed tie, Aldrin talked about his book "Encounter with Tiber," a novel he wrote in 1996 about people living on Mars. He said he thinks the world he envisioned in the book will become a reality in the next generation.

"Today we're on the cusp of a new era in space: the shuttles have been retired; the dawn of commercial space flight is upon us," Aldrin said. "I think humans will reach Mars, and I'd like to see their commitment to that made in my lifetime."

As for any future space travel for the famed astronaut, Aldrin said he won't be going back anytime soon. He's been offered free rides from companies who wanted the publicity associated with his name, but he's turned them down. "Who is going to get the publicity and who's taking the risk? I don't really see the benefit," he said.

"Besides," he said cheekily, "I've been there before."