Aldrin still buzzing about the final frontier

Aldrin still buzzing about the final frontier

More than 40 years after being the second man to walk on the moon, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is still passionate about exploring the final frontier. He is currently in New Zealand to give the keynote address at the Communications and Technology Conference, Planet 2010.

In 1969, along with Neil Armstrong, Aldrin became one of the first men to walk on the moon. It is an achievement that some, including 25% of Americans, still regard as a massive con job. Aldrin does not take the doubts well – he once hit a man who called him a liar and a coward.

“It was probably the best split second PR decision ever made, plus there’s a little legal fees,” he says of the incident.

Aldrin also revealed on Breakfast that he and Armstrong were originally part of the back-up crew intended for the 1969 moon mission.

“But we would get the chance to land if Apollo 9 and 10 were successful, and of course they were, so we were given a chance to go,” he told Paul Henry.

The sprightly 80-year-old, who is set to appear on the US version of Dancing With The Stars , adds that he was not altogether fussed at the time about being one of the first to walk on the moon, saying he had assumed he would be on the later flight in order to get to see more things.

“But I didn’t get that choice. We were part of a team and I could take my personal preferences. So I really didn’t want to be the first guy to do that and get all the extra attention.

“I didn’t want public appearances and all that but I’m getting better at doing it. That’s because of my own choices, because I have messages to talk about and where we’re going in the future.”

Aldrin says that all the NASA training did not quite prepare him for life back on Earth. A blessing is how Aldrin described being quarantined for approximately two weeks upon their return, before they were to set off for a round the world tour to talk about their space experience. His return to the air force later on did not quite work out as he had hoped.

“I wasn’t a test pilot but the air force wanted me to command the test pilot school instead of commanding cadet at the air force cadet academy. So I didn’t see that working out so I retired from the air force.”

Following an expensive divorce, Aldrin then decided to hit the speaking circuit. And he takes with him his palm pilot, his patriotic good luck bracelet and two Omega watches (the first watches on the moon, incidently) at all times.

He says he usually wears three watches.

“See you need an odd number (of watches) in case there is a discrepancy so you can sort out which one is what,” Aldrin explains.

He adds that the odd number practice can also be applied to a crew.

“We’re not going to send an even number of people to Mars because then you can have a 50/50 disagreement.”

The second man to walk on the moon says his hope for 2010 is to convince US President Barack Obama to say “Yes we can” to a programme aimed at manned flights to Mars.

“This is the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing. By the 50th we will have exercised the technology evolution… to enable us to go much further than the moon. And that means radiation protection, artificial gravity and sustance – to be able to sustain life for people for long periods of time.

“So we need to re-affirm that our ultimate destination, our initiated program is for Mars settlement, and we should do that in 25 years or a little bit less. ”

Aldrin will make a 45 minute address to the public at the conference at Sky City Convention Centre at 9.00am on Saturday.

The original article can be found at TVNZ

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