Bill Anders isn’t a name that many people will recognize from the Apollo missions of the ’60s and ’70s. His name doesn’t have the recognition of Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong, yet Anders was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 8, which was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth’s orbit. Anders is surprisingly not for sending humans to explore Mars.
The former astronaut says that sending human crews to Mars is “almost ridiculous.” Despite Anders’ opinions, NASA is gearing up for putting humans on Mars. Before that flight to Mars, NASA will first put men back on the moon. The space agency wants to use a new manned mission to the moon to develop the skills and tech needed to put people on Mars.
Anders proclaims himself a “big supporter” of unmanned Mars exploration programs “mainly because they’re much cheaper.” Anders doesn’t believe public support is there for expensive manned missions to the Red Planet.
Anders own mission into space saw him and crewmates Frank Borman and Jim Lovell complete ten orbits around the moon and spend 20 hours total in orbit before returning to Earth. The mission was seen as a vital stepping point to the first manned landing on the moon with Apollo 11 seven months later.
Anders is critical of NASA and its mission since the Apollo era calling the space shuttle “a serious error” and stating that NASA has mismanaged the manned program since the late lunar landings. Anders also admits that his opinions won’t make him popular with NASA.