14 May I’m the Real Buzz: Buzz Aldrin’s Perpetual Mission to Mars
“Dr. Aldrin explained the importance of the “S.T.E.M.” program in our schools…[W]e are adding one more letter to it: ‘A’ for Arts.” “S.T.E.A.M.” stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics,” which are the major areas that we must focus on in our education system in order to prepare students for work in fields such as space exploration in addition to many other careers.”
Famed astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, could not have entered the IMAX Theater at The Cradle of Aviation more appropriately this past Saturday, May 11th. Dr. Aldrin greeted his audience with a smile and a wave as we greeted him back with a standing ovation, applause, and Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” playing in the background. As soon as he took his seat, the crowd grew silent, eagerly awaiting words from the intelligent and prestigious second man to walk on the moon.
According to moderator Dick Dunn, who lead the discussion, Dr. Aldrin has been the “most frequent Apollo astronaut at the museum.” Dick Dunn briefly told the audience about Dr. Aldrin’s famous book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, before starting the interview to the completely sold out audience. “This is not just a book,” Dunn explained. “Mission to Mars is the preliminary plan to go to Mars!”
Dick Dunn’s first question to Buzz Aldrin was about the current state of our nation’s space program. Dr. Aldrin explained his many attempts to bring forth ideas and attempts for exploration to President Obama, as well as past presidents, stating that the economy has not allowed us to move forward quite yet. “After The Challenger accident, we took a yearlong break,” Buzz explained that this tragedy was one reason for the temporary pause in our country’s space exploration program. He also explained that his ultimate goal is a “unified space vision,” which he suggested to President Obama in 2009. This vision includes five essential elements: exploration, science, development, commercial, and security.
Buzz broke up his lecture with a bit of comedy when he held up a t-shirt that read, “I’m the Real Buzz” in reference to the use of his name in the Disney/Pixar Toy Story movies. The audience laughed and applauded, acknowledging that there wouldn’t be anyone more deserving to own that article of clothing.
Moderator Dunn continued with several more questions, including how our public education system impacts the current space program. “There could be many young future astronauts in this audience today,” Dunn stated before handing over the conversation to Dr. Aldrin.
“Scores have gone down in certain subjects in education…” Dr. Aldrin explained the importance of the “S.T.E.M.” program in our schools. “We think of this as ‘education for geeks,’ but now we are adding one more letter to it: ‘A’ for Arts.” “S.T.E.A.M.” stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics,” which are the major areas that we must focus on in our education system in order to prepare students for work in fields such as space exploration in addition to many other careers.
As a teacher, and in particular a music teacher, I was elated to hear Dr. Aldrin speak about the importance of adding the arts into our teaching priorities, in addition to his support for our public education system. There were many students of all ages sitting in the audience on Saturday and I think they would agree that Dr. Aldrin shed a light of hope onto anyone doubting the ability to follow their career dreams due to the current state of the economy.
Dr. Aldrin shared his expertise, experience and philosophies while answering several more questions. Dr. Aldrin spoke about using the speed of light to measure distances from Earth to Mars, as well as his own personal experience on the moon. “The words I used to describe it were ‘magnificent desolation,’” Buzz explained to the audience. He also explained how rewarded our nation would feel upon finally sending humans to Mars: “If we had human intelligence in orbit around Mars, the work done by the Mars Rovers could have been accomplished in a week’s time,” Dr. Aldrin explains that humans are the missing link to transmitting messages in a timely fashion from Mars to Earth.
After the discussion, hundreds of fans lined up outside of The Cradle of Aviation Museum entrance to have Buzz Aldrin sign their copies of his books, Mission to Mars and Look to the Stars. Dr. Aldrin fittingly autographed his novels in front of the museum’s lunar module, which was built in Long Island’s very own Grumman building in Hicksville.
In addition to frequent visits by Buzz Aldrin, The Cradle of Aviation Museum hosts a wide variety of events in addition to its daily museum hours and IMAX showings. Saturday, June 15th, the museum will host “Eternal Con: Long Island’s Pop Culture Expo Comic Con.” In addition, the museum offers a variety of educational programs such as holiday/summer camps, the Junior Jet Club for aviators between the ages of 2 and 6, catered events and birthday parties.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum is located on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard in Garden City, NY (follow the ramp off of Meadowbrook Parkway exit M4).