25 Mar The Buzz Aldrin Dancing with the Stars Interview
In three parts:
Buzz Aldrin talks about his moon walk, his visions for the future and being a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars.’ In an exclusive interview, Buzz shares his thoughts about how New Seniors can use their experience and values to help other generations realize the American dream.
Buzz Aldrin describes walking on the moon
NEWSENIORS: Dr. Buzz Aldrin was part of the Apollo 11 mission and walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. He is pre-boomer, and will share some of his experience with us, along with his exiting vision of future space travel, and his thoughts about being a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars.” Let’s welcome Buzz Aldrin.
BUZZ ALDRIN: I’m very, very happy to join this crew, this meeting, this discussion. Reminiscing or whatever about the past, the present, and the future for a group of mature people that I think can, and should be, very influential because of the growing experience – the growing impact of the experience that new seniors or whatever terminology – pre-boomers – may have. I think we’re dwindling a lot, but I think our impact can be very significant.
NEWSENIORS: There’s one thing to remember before going on to the questions. This is the first year, 2010, that all the pre-boomers are 65+. And do you know who’s joining us next year? The boomers, and they are 76 million strong, so they’re going to join with the more than 30 million pre-boomers – making this combined demographic of New Seniors a force to be reckoned with.
BUZZ ALDRIN: We will welcome those new members, and see if we can’t pass on some of the maturity those of us who are already 65+ have gained along the way.
NEWSENIORS: Probably everybody asks you this question, but it’s still on our minds. It’s July 20th, 1969. You just stepped onto the surface of the moon. What was going through your mind, and how do you feel physically and emotionally?
BUZZ ALDRIN: You’re right, many people do ask a question similar to that – what it was like, what did it feel, what was going through your mind – and the people who ask the questions usually are not familiar with the buildup leading to that day. I was selected in 1963, two years after the President Kennedy declared the moon as an object as a challenge. All of my thinking from that point on until 1969 were thoughts like, “Gee, if I’m fortunate enough to get to the moon, this is really going to be the crowning moment in my career.” I was involved in the last Gemini flight, November ‘66 and saddened by the fire that took the life of my very good friend Ed White, a class behind me at West Point, and a fighter pilot. But as things got closer it worked out that Neil Armstrong and I happened to be on the backup crew for the flight that was shifted around, and it became the first flight, Apollo 8, to go to the moon, and this stirred the publics’ interest in the project. Then it was announced that the crew of Apollo 11 was to include Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and myself. If the next two missions succeeded – testing the lunar module in earth orbit, and then in dress rehearsal in lunar orbit in Apollo 10 – then we’d be given the opportunity of making the first attempt to successfully land on the moon. The situation unfolded in the most beautiful way, but we had been thinking about being on the lunar surface four, five or six months. In fact, that we stood a very good chance – 60 percent – of successfully landing, and carrying this out, and then a couple of months before, it was finally determined that the commander, Neil Armstrong, would be the first to step on the moon. And, of course, with that came the obligation or necessity of Neil making some prophetic or lasting historical observation.
I didn’t have that obligation hanging over my head, so when I followed Neil onto the lunar surface, I wouldn’t say it was anticlimactic, but Neil had already made that symbolic first step. I say symbolic because clearly the purpose of Apollo was to land successfully. Actually, the president didn’t say anything about walking on the moon, and we would have considered it a success if we landed successfully, because it would have allowed later flights to do more fulfilling things out on the lunar surface with rovers. And if we landed on the moon, we could land on other objects. Anyway, I’m coming down the ladder, and at the bottom of the ladder, both of us wanted to jump back up to the bottom step to see how easy or difficult that was, because after being out for awhile, we had to do that to get back in the cabin. Well, when I jumped up, I missed. I underestimated the lunar gravity, so I didn’t jump high enough.
So within the next several seconds, I’m putting my foot on the moon, and then people are asking me what was going through my mind. Well, specifically, it was, “First thing I had to do on the moon, I failed.” And it was sort of a blow to my ego, my sense of confidence, and I think I’ve revealed to some people that I chose that moment of the beginning of our walking on the moon to test out the urine collection device system within the space suit. So, as I paused to do that and check my balance, what was I thinking of? “Well, what comes next? I hope that the rest of this walking around exploring, doing what we set out to do, is going to be more successful.” That was what was going through my mind, really. Not the wonderful, philosophical meaning I did have the opportunity, a bit later, to put two words together, “Magnificent desolation,” which I’m very proud of because it was extemporaneous, and it encompassed the idea of the progress of humanity over the centuries of looking up at the moon, and here we have progressed to the point with airplanes, jet airplanes, rockets, satellites, doing things with humans in orbit, and here we are, the two of us, walking on the surface. What a magnificent tribute to the progress of humanity. And yet I looked out on the lunar surface, and saw such a desolate scene, it was just absolutely, totally lifeless with a black sky, not a blue sky. The sun was out, no stars were visible, the horizon curved away, the surface color was a uniform grey except for where the sun was impacting on it. And the dust was kind of unique in its mysterious way of forming a boot print just very precise, before kicking up and coming back to the surface. It was a pre-occupied mental state that we were in, “What are we doing next? We’ve got to get a lot of things done.”
BUZZ ALDRIN: From walking on the moon to Dancing With The Stars
NEWSENIORS: What is the next ladder in the next frontier, and how are you trying to use the “Dancing With The Stars” opportunity to bring that all together?
BUZZ ALDRIN: I have a ring on my right hand, and it has a crescent moon and a star, and some people might say, “Oh, I didn’t know that Buzz was Muslim or Islamic.” Well, that’s not the case. It’s symbolic of the past for me and the hope of the future with the stars. I wrote about this in a science fiction story talking about travel between stars. But now, I’ve walked on the moon, and I’m dancing with the stars. To me, that’s the symbolism of this rather beautiful ring. Obviously human kind is going to go to the stars, but not in the foreseeable future. Who’s going to take the next step on the moon? Well, I really don’t see why it should be at U.S. taxpayer’s expense for it to be an American. We are clearly the most experienced people in lunar activities. We visited the moon six out of seven times in the 60’s and 70s. We plan to go back there. But we should use our experience, not our resources, and involve other nations. Help China, India and others, after they have been invited to the space station, to form a joint lunar development organization. We should be leading that effort with our experience. We can barter and trade off our knowledge contribution to whatever the other nations’ contributions might be. And we should move toward what I think really is best: a two-phase program. Over the next ten years, which takes us to the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon, we need a flexible program that develops technology for establishing permanence on Mars. And then, in the next 15 years, we visit near-Earth objects and fly by comets; but our big target is the moon of Mars. Not the moon of Earth, the moon of Mars, Phobos. It’s just has some wonderful pictures taken of this moon by the European Mars Express Spacecraft, a robotic spacecraft in orbit around Mars. And then, with the experience of Americans, mission controllers on the moon of Mars and controlling robots assembling things on the surface between 2030 and 2035, I think people from the USA and participating country will descend the ladder and walk on the surface of Mars.
NEWSENIORS: You mention the year 2030. It’s interesting that 2030 is the last year when all the boomers will have reached 65, so they will be a very mature audience at that time.
BUZZ ALDRIN: I’m going to be 100 then.
NEWSENIORS: Good, I look forward to celebrating that with you, but back to the present. How are you using Dancing With The Stars as a launch pad to help the share space program?
BUZZ ALDRIN: At the prodding of my gorgeous wife, Lois, I’ve been talking to lots of people, meaningful people and their organizations. And we do a lot of social activities. I’m not trying to expand my involvement with other than fighter pilots – there aren’t very many in Beverly Hills, close to where I live. I don’t go out golfing with locals of wealth around here. I concentrate on looking at the future of our space program and attending conferences and speaking to as many people as possible. I also write children’s books and have written two science fiction stories; one about travel between the stars and another about celebrity of sorts flying on board the space shuttle. I try and expand my horizons. That’s why in the publicity for Magnificent Desolation, my autobiography, I chose to engage in a rap song written by my step-daughter. I had the encouragement of Quincy Jones. Snoop Dogg and Quale gave me some coaching, and I had support from rappers and hip-hop people to reach a new segment of society. We’re looking at how we can maybe alter the words legally of “Fly me to the Moon” which will be “Fly Us To Red Mars,” so it was only natural when somebody asked me, “Would you participate in this very popular television series called Dancing With The Stars?” I thought, “Wow, that’s really a challenge, but yeah, I need the vim and vigor, the vitality of mental challenges of remembering steps, the transition from one step into another, that goes with my mental multitasking to keep my mind very active.” So it really fit in rather nicely, and I’m enjoying very much the exposure and the opportunity to take that public exposure and relate that into describing in general terms to increase public awareness of what I’m doing, describe the essential steps to U.S. continued leadership in space activities.
In Part 3 Buzz talks about his life since the moon, gives his advice to New Seniors and expresses his love for the United States and thoughts on giving back.
Buzz Aldrin’s philosophy of service
NEWSENIORS: What are your thoughts do you have for New Seniors about staying involved and giving back?
BUZZ ALDRIN: My entire program of recovery from depression and alcoholism, where I have 31 years in sobriety now, is really pinned on the idea of being helpful, of being of service. I’m proud to be a member of a fellowship that helps me get out of my own mind and help other people. That’s how I have become more aware, more expansive in my thinking and of the progress of humanity. Expanding my spirituality, and really multitasking with my mind. So I think of many things, doing several things at the same time, just challenging my mind to be thinking ahead, short-term, thinking ahead long-term, and having a very active, inquisitive mind. I think that is the key to enjoying and getting the most out of life as we get older.
NEWSENIORS: Great advice. Now for one question before we wrap up. Are there more items on your to-do or bucket list?
BUZZ ALDRIN: Well, the main challenge right now is to help bring together the disparate view of our country and to look longer term into the future. America came through and recovered from the Great Depression and made many sacrifices in World War II. Those of us in who saw combat in Korea or Vietnam have enormous respect for the military. And all of us must have respect for the values of other citizens in the world, and strive to retain as much as possible the pride in Americanism and the movement away from just short-term objectives, really questioning thoughts that focus on “What’s in it for me right now?” And, instead, we must consider how we can be of service to our country, not what our country can do to us.
NEWSENIORS: Buzz Aldrin, it’s been great talking to you. Thank you for sharing your time with us today. And thank you very much for your continued service to our country. We’d like to catch up with you down the road, and talk more about your vision as well as about your experience on “Dancing With The Stars.” We’ll be watching the show and will ask those visiting NewSeniors.com to watch, and to be sure to vote for Buzz Aldrin.
BUZZ ALDRIN: You know, in the first 40 years of my career, the initial two score years were culminated with walking on the moon. My second two score years have been just as important allowing me the experience to grow and gain wisdom while continuing to be of service to my country. And I think that’s a challenge that lots of people should take on, particularly those 65+. The best way to make use of the experience from the early parts of your life is to and use it by being of service to others.
NEWSENIORS: Well, that’s what New Seniors believe. We have been handed the baton from the greatest generation, and we believe it’s our responsibility, and we have the opportunity to fulfill this trust by passing on this information to those that follow, the younger generations, our grandchildren, and beyond. And, Buzz, your vision of the future and willingness to plant the seed today, even though you may not sit under the tree, is the kind of commitment that made America great. New Seniors need to make the same commitment in order to help our country get back on track and give citizens something to be proud of, again.
BUZZ ALDRIN: Thank you so much, I really have enjoyed talking to you and challenging New Seniors to get into action.
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