Mark Kelly says he thinks first person to walk on Mars is alive today

Jul 10, 2019, 4:05 AM | Updated: Jul 19, 2019, 8:15 am
(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)...
(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)
(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)

PHOENIX — U.S. Senate candidate and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by predicting another space milestone.

The Tucson Democrat told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday that he believes the first person to walk on Mars is alive today.

“It might be some kid in high school. It could be even somebody older than that. We don’t know. It’s a challenging proposition to send people to Mars and then safely get them back,” Kelly said.

“I think it’s something we should be doing as a country. I think when we do these very aspirational things that are very difficult with people, we get tremendous amounts back as a country.”

Kelly, who has spent more than 50 days in space and lived aboard the International Space Station, said his decision to pursue his career was inspired by Apollo 11, although he doesn’t remember the landing.

“I was in kindergarten when Apollo 11 happened, when Neil Armstrong and  Buzz Aldrin went to the surface of the moon,” he said.

“My twin brother (Scott Kelly), who also became an astronaut, he remembers it vividly, that moment. I don’t remember any of of it. My mom says I fell asleep on the floor, so I totally missed it.”

While Kelly thinks the country should put resources into space exploration, he doesn’t think President Donald Trump’s idea of creating a Space Force is the way to do it.

“The Air Force Space Command does a very good job with that mission now,” he said.

“To take that away from the Air Force and build basically a new organization that also has bureaucracy over it, I just don’t think it’s the right timing for that.”

Kelly visited the Arizona Science Center on Saturday to host a showing of “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition,” lead planetarium presentations and speak about the importance of STEM education.

He will attend celebrations of the moon landing’s anniversary at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida next week.

Kelly will likely face Republican Sen. Martha McSally in the 2020 election to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, which McSally was appointed to in December.

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Mark Kelly says he thinks first person to walk on Mars is alive today