22 Jun Buzz sets foot in Carnarvon
“Getting to see what it is and what’s around here and what the people are like is quite a treat,” Dr Aldrin said.
The Apollo 11 astronaut was invited to Carnarvon to attend a Space Festival and open the Space and Technology Museum.
The museum commemorates the Carnarvon Tracking Station, which played a pivotal role in the NASA space program including the moon landing.
“We needed a tracking station down here in the southern hemisphere, fortunately the wonderful country of Australia obliged and gave us Western Australia with the wonderful location of Carnarvon,” Dr Aldrin said.
The museum’s Chairman Phil Youd who came up with the idea to invite Dr Aldrin to the region says the Carnarvon station gave Apollo 11 the commands to head to the moon.
“It was the actual tracking station that sent the commands to the space craft to say ‘ok it’s time to go to the moon’, and that’s what it did and then it fired all its rockets and off it went.
“When they got to the moon, Buzz Aldrin actually had set up these experiments on the moon and they were actually one of the stations that turned these experiments on and then started to receive all of this data back from the moon.
“Then on the way back from the moon they were actually the last station to be in contact with the capsule just before it came into the earth’s atmosphere.”
Dr Aldrin said it was great to be in a place which played such a role.
“Mr Youd says the museum is a celebration of the role Carnarvon played,” he said.
“We are calling this phase one and phase one basically is we are in a very small building but we figure we have to start somewhere and this is to get the ball rolling.
“We have got displays, we have pieces of equipment, we have video, we have interpretive panels telling the whole story of Carnarvon’s role in the space race,” he said.
Dr Aldrin was welcomed to Carnarvon by hundreds of people, including school children and handed the keys to the town.
He offered this bit of advice to aspiring astronomers.
“Study hard,” he said.
“Education is the key to becoming involved in almost any endeavour these days, you’ve got to be smart”.
He reminisced about his visit to the moon and shared the importance of future space exploration.
“If you are capable of doing it, How much are you going to gain in the way of inspiring education?,” he said.
“That’s probably one of the prime results that will come from exhibiting leadership and taking a task that is going to be historic.
“We have to commit to permanence and that’s what I think should happen, just looking at the world, the solar system, we don’t want to just reach out and touch something, we want to expand our realm of human activity.”