Buzz Aldrin hosted the gala at Kennedy Space Center

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Buzz Aldrin, astronaut of the famous Apollo 11 hosted the gala fundraiser at Kennedy Space Center. He commemorated the upcoming anniversary of the first man walk on the moon in 1969. At the gala his nonprofit Space Education Foundation raised more than $190,000. Aldrin thinks that Mars landing will happen by 2040, and the NASA is already working on it. The agency is currently developing the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft to send people on the red planet.

Michael Collins, Harrison “Jack” Schmitt and Walt Cunningham, all of which are Apollo astronauts joined Buzz at the fundraiser.

In the Apollo/Saturn V Center Aldrin said, “I like to think of myself as an innovative futurist,” and added, “The programs we have right now are eating up every piece of the budget and it has to be reduced if we’re ever going to get anywhere.”

At the event, the ShareSpace Foundation gave their first ever Buzz Aldrin Space Innovation Award. The award went to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. Beside the Amazon, Bezos is the founder of Blue Origin company that is trying to reduce the cost of space traveling by reusing rockets.

“We can have a trillion humans in the solar system. What’s holding us back from making that next step is that space travel is just too darned expensive,” Bezos said. “I’m taking my Amazon lottery winnings and dedicating it to (reusable rockets). I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do that.”

Mae Jermison, former NASA astronaut and the first African-American woman in space was also honored, with the Buzz Aldrin Space Pioneering Award.

“When Buzz says, ‘Get your ass to Mars,’ it’s not just about the physical part of getting to Mars. It’s also about that commitment to doing something big and audacious,” Jemison told to the press. “What we’re doing looking forward is making sure that we use our place at the table.”

At the gala there was also an auction of space memorabilia. An autographed first day insurance “cover” fetched $42,500 and flew to the surface of the moon. According to the auction website, insurance companies refused to offer life insurance to the astronauts, so cover were set up by NASA. The covers were issues in limited numbers and canceled on the launching day. The money collected from their sale would have been given to the astronauts’ families in the event of their deaths.

This event was the first part of a three year campaign leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo mission to fund researches and experiments that will lead to the habitation of Mars.

On Saturday, Share Space Foundation also announced the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, a new nonprofit organization that will educate children. For couple of years now foundation has been gifting giant maps of Mars to schools and working with children on some areas, specifically in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, or STEAM.