Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins disagrees with NASA's planned Moon return: 'We should shoot directly for Mars'

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins wants NASA to aim its sights squarely on Mars for future space exploration.

The Columbia Command Module pilot discussed the space agency’s plans to return to the Moon with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto during an interview Thursday on “Your World.”

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The U.S. has aimed to land the next man and the first woman on the Moon by 2024, with an eye toward sending a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. The astronauts also would be the first humans to set foot on the Moon’s South Pole.

File photo - astronaut Michael Collins in his Apollo spacesuit.

File photo - astronaut Michael Collins in his Apollo spacesuit. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/NASA/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Collins, however, said he thought NASA should be focusing its efforts on the Red Planet. “The current plan has been well thought out, but I disagree with it, we should shoot directly for Mars,” he said. “Twenty-some years ago, I even wrote a book, a whole boring book, on a mission to Mars and I have always been a believer in Mars.”

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He also advocated naming a future Mars mission after President John F. Kennedy, who famously vowed in 1961 that America would land a man on the Moon before the end of that decade.

“He was such a wonderful guide for us in the Apollo venture,” Collins said. “400,000 Americans, would you believe, at the time, working on that program – Kennedy’s voice expedited that whole thing.”

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July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Only 12 men, all Americans, have walked on the Moon.

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Be sure to catch the “America’s News HQ” Apollo 11 50th anniversary special on Fox News on Saturday, July 20, at 12 p.m. EDT.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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