Archive for May, 2014

Buzz on CNN’s The Sixties

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

See Buzz on The Space Race episode of the Sixties series on CNN Thursday, July 17 at 9:00pm ET and PT.

Paving the Road to Mars

Monday, May 26th, 2014

In mid-April, the Bay Area was treated to a rare lunar eclipse of a full moon. Those who stayed up late to view the red-hued moon also saw a smaller reddish orb in the same area of the sky. That was Mars, which had ventured to its closest position with earth for the past six years. Since America placed humans on the lunar surface 45 years ago, many citizens believe our next deep space journey should look beyond the moon… and focus on Mars.

Foremost among them is a person who is uniquely qualified to have his informed opinion heard. Buzz Aldrin, the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 11 and one of the first two humans to set foot on the moon, is a major believer in aiming our next space-faring effort for Mars.
Last year he published a book called Mission to Mars. In it, Buzz details a vision of the steps needed to plant an American flag on the red soil of the 4th rock from the sun. Even with a well-funded, highly-focused program, he believes it will be a decade before we can get there.
NASA, however, doesn’t usually get all the funding it needs nor all the focus it wants. They believe a human landing mission will more likely take around 20 years of effort, with an “earliest date” of 2032.
Reaching Mars safely is far more difficult than putting a human on the moon. The moon is only 240 thousand miles away from earth, around which it orbits, so that distance remains constant. It can be reached in roughly three days using modern spacecraft technology. Lunar-based astronauts could be retrieved or resupplied relatively quickly if an illness or injury were to occur. Lunar explorers are also not subject to serious health risks that come with long-term solar radiation exposure.
However, the average “closest distance” Mars stays from the earth is around 48 million miles! Since it revolves around the sun, this only happens every 26 months, such as we saw this past April. For the rest of its 687 day cycle around the sun, the Mars elliptical orbit takes it as far as 250 million miles from earth. At a minimum, it would take a human-rated spacecraft six months just to reach the planet and, once there, the return journey would be difficult if not impossible to make until the next close approach.
Hence, a Mars exploration program will involve a 2-year journey to a hostile land rather than just a 1-week hop to our nearest heavenly neighbor. The logistics for a Mars landing are orders of magnitude more complex than the Apollo effort. A habitat of some sort will have to be erected; water, food and fuel will need to be carried with them (or have periodic resupply missions from earth), the atmosphere requires spacesuits to be worn at all times, and the temperature extremes must be dealt with.
In terms of our present day science and technology, how we enable a successful Mars expedition by 2032 is not completely clear. The Apollo program required an army of scientists, engineers and technicians, using slide rules, chalk boards and calculators, to work almost a decade to achieve their success. The Mars landing program will require a similar army of science-savvy people, although armed with sophisticated computers, data mines, neural networks and autonomous robots.
A major reason America won the 1960’s space race was the vast number of college graduates with degrees in science and engineering. The Apollo program, and the people involved, created a significant technological advantage for the U.S., generating political and economic power that has lasted for almost a half century.
The current U.S. work force has a deficit of this type of knowledge and skill (even in Silicon Valley). Hence, there is major national effort underway to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in high school and college. These are not only the key skills needed to build a successful Mars landing program, but the necessary foundation for continued economic prosperity in the U.S.
Danville’s own shuttle astronaut, Leroy Chiao, expressed his views at a recent Senate hearing, calling a Mars mission important not only for developing technologies beneficial to humans on Earth but for boosting national prestige and inspiration. “Human space flight has become woven into the very fabric of our identity, as a nation of explorers, innovators and entrepreneurs,” he said. “It was exactly the endeavors of the Apollo and prior programs that inspired me and my generation. We must do the same and more for our children and grandchildren, and to help maintain our position as the world leader.”
The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda has offered various types of STEM youth programs for many years. As part of this initiative, on July 26th, the museum is holding its 45th commemoration of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Called Splashdown 45, it will feature astronaut Buzz Aldrin and other space-exploration personalities. In addition to reviewing the Apollo effort, it will also explore some of the technologies and sciences needed to create a successful Mars landing program.
The first humans to walk on Mars have already been born and are quite likely in junior high school right now. The Hornet Museum hopes that one of them may have been inspired by attending this commemoration event, and be the featured speaker of Splashdown 70 in 2039, following their successful journey to the Red Planet!

Read the Original Article at Alive Magazine

Buzz Aldrin signs books, meets hundreds of people

Monday, May 26th, 2014

GLENDALE – People don’t often get the chance to meet someone whose name has been etched in history books as part of a life-changing event for the planet. That’s why hundreds of people packed into the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Glendale to see legendary astronaut, Buzz Aldrin.

“This man is history in the flesh,” Ron Curry, a customer, said. “He stepped on the moon. You can’t beat that.”

Aldrin appeared to promote his latest book, “Mission to Mars”, which outlines his views on current trajectory of the U.S. Space Program.

“I’m concerned about the future of our country,” Aldrin said.

He also helped promote a non-profit organization called the Big Brain Club which is designed to celebrate students succeeding in academics. It was founded by Radio Personality Dom Testa who professes the mantra, “Smart is cool.” Testa helped arrange for Aldrin’s appearance. Part of the proceeds from the book sale will support the Big Brain Club.

Aldrin and his book’s co-author, Leonard David, conducted a discussion for the crowd talking about his various things, especially his experience as the second man to walk on the moon.

“It’s slow and it’s dusty, but it makes for beautiful boot prints,” Aldrin said.

When asked if he wanted to stay on the moon longer, the former astronaut joked with the crowd.

“I like to be able to breathe oxygen,” Aldrin said.

Aldrin also talked about his concerns about America’s dip in science education and its role as an international leader in technology.

“We were at the top,” Aldrin said. “We ain’t there anymore.”

Aldrin also expressed concern that if the United States is serious about sending a mission to Mars, doing so on trimmed budgets is tough.

“How can we possible go to Mars on a half a percent,” Aldrin said. “A highly supported, let’s say aggressive, high-level activity, would’ve gotten us to Mars in the 80s.”

Krista Reed waited with the crowd to meet Aldrin and hear his take on things.

“It was definitely strong opinions,” Reed said.

Aldrin is one of only 12 people to walk on the moon in Earth’s history. He also created many of the protocols used by NASA in spacewalks.

“We thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and thought it would be an incredible experience to come witness,” Reed said. “I can’t even put into words – just so incredible actually meeting somebody that was on the moon.”

Read the Original Article at Colorado 9 News

With Buzz Aldrin: Our Day in Denver

Monday, May 26th, 2014

BUZZ-LEONARD-BN-MAY-2014-NELSON-GARCIABuzz Aldrin and I had a wonderful day in Denver on Saturday, May 24th.

In promoting our book — Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration – we visited both the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Glendale, Colorado as well as the magnificent Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum gala event in Denver that night.

At both events we were welcomed by large and receptive audiences.

As for walking on the Moon, 45 years ago this July, “it’s slow and it’s dusty…but it makes for beautiful boot prints,” Buzz told the Barnes and Noble crowd. But Buzz also had strong words regarding the overall health of the U.S. space program.
At the Wings Over the Rockies gala, Buzz and I were joined on stage by his son, Andy Aldrin, President of Moon Express, Inc. Andy wrote a great foreword to our book and was an invaluable contributor to the entire book project.

Buzz Aldrin’s Five Favorite Places to Space Out on Earth

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

When hundreds of millions of kids across the world woke up on July 22, 1969 and claimed they wanted to be an astronaut, they were likely talking about this guy. Buzz Aldrin. American astronaut. Retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force. Korean War veteran and fighter pilot of 66 missions. And of course, the guy who followed Neil Armstrong out of Apollo 11 on July 21, 1969 — when they became the first two men ever to set foot on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin has seen a lot in his 84 years. He’s also landed in a lot of impressive places. As we come up on the 45th anniversary of Aldrin’s historic moonwalk, Aldrin took the time to share with us his five favorite places to explore… when he’s not orbiting through space.

California Science CenterLos Angeles, CA – “Here in Los Angeles, we had a lot of pictures first of the 747 flying over with Endeavour. We felt pretty good ’cause we got one of the shuttles and Houston didn’t. Well, they put it on display in the California Science Center. That’s meaningful to me because I was inducted into the California Hall of Fame (after the New Jersey Hall of Fame). Before movin’ on, I may see fit to put a portion of my artifacts on display in California. There’s one artifact that I was given by NASA — a piece of the moon provided that I put it in a museum and have a fundraiser for it.”

Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumWashington, D.C. – “The most intense collection with tours in Washington, D.C. Not just the classic one downtown, but the one by the airport. There’s a lot more room out there. Those are well-traveled pieces.”

San Diego Air and Space MuseumSan Diego, CA – “Down in San Diego, they’ve got a very interesting place. It’s really a rendition of the history of a lot of things with a Believe It or Not by Robert Ripley thrown in. Maybe a little bit of an overemphasis on Navy planes rather than the Air Force.”

Kansas Cosmosphere & Space CenterHutchinson, KS – “Out in the boondocks in the middle of the country in Kansas, there’s a Cosmosphere. I was there just recently. On display are the water soaked rocket engines of the Saturn V that were brought up by Jeff Bezos and a team from Amazon. Of course, they were looking for it. The engine that they got is the center engine (Saturn V had five engines).”
The Museum of FlightSeattle, WA – “Up in Seattle there’s The Museum of Flight (pictured below). All the planes are flying in the same direction for some reason but it’s really a wonderful display of flying aircraft because Boeing is very close.”

With the 45th anniversary of Buzz Aldrin’s historic moon landing coming in July 2014, Aldrin’s decided to launch a You Tube project asking people to record where they were during his monumental moonwalk. More details TBD.

Where’s Buzz now? Follow him on Twitter @TheRealBuzz to find out.