Buzz Aldrin takes you to Mars in VR

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, has launched a virtual reality movie detailing his plan to get humans to Mars.

The film - Cycling Pathways to Mars - lasts just under 10 minutes and features the astronaut as a hologram narrating the experience.

Mr Aldrin's plan involves using the moons of Earth and Mars essentially as pitstops for people travelling to and from the Red Planet - a trip that will take about six months each way.

Speaking to the BBC, he said he hoped the film would help governments focus on a single plan to get to Mars.

"You can't afford to do them all," he said of competing visions. "Because it's using up the budget that we've got and we're going nowhere."

He welcomed investment from SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk in space travel, but said it's governments who must provide the guidance for achieving the goal of a Mars colony, not companies.

On stage at South by SouthWest (SXSW) in Austin Texas earlier this week, he added that he thought Mr Musk was a transportation expert - but had not thought about what should happen once people arrived on Mars.

Can't go back

The film, created by virtual reality firm 8i in partnership with Time, brings the viewer to the surface of Mars - surrounded by an envisioning of what a Mars colony may look like.

While it's clearly a scientific community - with not much in the way of pleasant scenery - Mr Aldrin said he believed early Mars-goers would have to endure the harsh conditions for the good of future interplanetary generations.

"They weren't scientists that came over on Mayflower, they were pilgrims," he said, making reference to the ship that sailed from Plymouth, England, to the "New World" in 1620 - a voyage that became a founding moment of American history.

"They were moving for different reasons," Mr Aldrin added. "They toughed it out."

New arrivals on Mars will need to have the same mindset as those early settlers, he said.

"I think we're going to have pioneers, but they're going to be very well prepared, and what troubles me is that they need to be motivated and they have to retain that motivation in a mind that changes. I think that's one of the biggest concerns.

"I don't think we should just go there and come back - we did that with Apollo."

'Mind blowing'

The film was one of many on show at SXSW's virtual cinema, a collection of virtual and augmented reality experiences.

Charles Singletary, from Upload VR, said he was impressed with the experience.

"The film was incredible," he told the BBC.

"The production quality makes you feel like you're standing in the middle of a high tier sci-fi film, which makes it all the more mind blowing that Buzz is guiding you through something that could realistically be implemented.

"The hologram was very crisp and was presented as a projection in the virtual space, a small detail that keeps the immersion intact."

The film is available for to view on HTC's Vive headset - and is coming soon to rival headset, the Oculus Rift.