More than 46 years after he landed on the moon, Buzz Aldrin talks about the historic mission and those to come.
Although it has been more than 46 years since man landed on the moon, it still seems unconceivable to many. Buzz Aldrin does not seem especially emotional about it, even when he recalls how he and Neil Armstrong almost crashed on this historical mission.
As the Apollo approached the moon’s surface, they discovered that the computer had directed them to an area full of large boulders and were forced to neutralize the automatic pilot. With seconds left, the two astronauts searched for an alternate landing space. The command center in Houston was already counting down to a directive to abort the mission and return to earth. When they finally landed, they discovered they were left with enough fuel for another 17 seconds.
Only 17 years earlier, the US had been stunned by Russia sending the Sputnik satellite into space, triggering the Space Race. The satellite orbited the earth every 1 1/2 hours, transmitting radio signals from space. It was clear to the Americans that there was a new threat – a country that could launch a satellite into space could easily launch a ballistic ground to ground missile.
They then sent the first animal into space, the dog Laika and the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. President John F. Kennedy realized that he must accelerate the US space program in order to change the tide. How did Buzz Aldrin deal with this formidable task?
The astronauts spent 21 hours on the moon, 2 1/4 walking on the surface, conducting experiments and collecting 25 kilos of rocks to bring home. They discovered that the moon dust had a distinct burnt smell. The rocks were intended to provide information about the creation of the solar system. As they prepared to return home, they discovered that the starter was broken. They informed Houston that “they had a problem” and attempted to sleep until receiving a solution. Houston had no solution, but Buzz decided to improvise. Although he and Neil had shared an incredible experience, they didn’t exactly come out of it as friends.
As a youth, Aldrin loved to scuba dive and thus the idea to train astronauts in the water was born. While in Israel, Aldrin went scuba diving in Eilat with his friend Morris Kahn, the Israeli philanthropist who sponsored the “Space IL” Project so that an Israeli team could compete in the international Google Lunar X Prize competition. Kahn and Aldrin connected through their love of scuba diving 15 years ago.
Lately, Aldrin has been fascinated by Mars. He constantly develops international projects which will bring people to Mars within 20 years. The moon will be a station on the way. This will lead to great international cooperation. Aldrin looks to space and beyond.