Space's past and future

Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin to speak in Shippensburg

Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin to speak in Shippensburg

October 22, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

For older generations, he is remembered in a black-and-white staticky TV image as one of the first two men to step foot on the moon.

For younger generations, he is a heroic figure they've read about in textbooks and an image they often saw on TV - in the shape of the MTV logo of a moon man or the MTV Video Music Award, aka the Buzzy.

Buzz Aldrin, 76, a member of the famous July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landing on the moon, will speak at Shippensburg University's H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Thursday as part of the President's Lecture Series.

Aldrin will present "The Apollo Dream," a video about the moon landing and will talk about his vision for future space exploration.


Aldrin, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lois, said in a recent phone interview that he has kept active with interests in further space exploration as well as exotic trips.

He has visited the Titanic in a French submersible, has been to the North Pole via a Russian nuclear icebreaker and recently went scuba diving in the Mediterranean Sea off Malta.

"I'm looking forward to driving to the South Pole in a converted Hummer," he said. That's planned for December 2007.

In 1993, he received a patent for a permanent space station he designed. While NASA didn't select his design, it might prove useful in the future, he said.

Aldrin, who has a doctorate in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also is working on a concept known as The Mars Cycler, a spacecraft system that can travel between Earth and Mars continuously, according to and Aldrin's wife, Lois.

Aldrin founded Starcraft Boosters Inc., a company working to develop next-generation space launch systems, including a rocket designed for short space flights to the space station, according to the company's Web site and Lois Aldrin.

He also founded the ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit group devoted to promoting affordable space tourism.

As much as Aldrin pursues the future of space exploration, he is well-known for its past.

Asked whether he was scared as he prepared for Apollo 11's attempt to land on the moon and get back off, Aldrin put it in perspective: "When you're in combat in an airplane all by yourself, the people on the ground are trying to shoot you down and the people in the air are trying to shoot you down. (There's) a lot more cause for concern."

Before becoming an astronaut, Aldrin was a combat pilot in the Korean War, shooting down two MIG-15s, he said.

Apollo 11 was "probably the most thoroughly trained-for exercise humans have done," he said.

And what was it like to actually step foot on the moon?

"We were not in a position to describe that as it happens because our attention was focused on what we did next," Aldrin said.

While stepping foot on the moon, Aldrin described the view as "Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation," according to

"We were pretty specific and deliberate in our actions," he recalled.

Aldrin said he and his mission mates, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, were extremely grateful and appreciative of the opportunities they were given.

Aldrin, whose father was an aviation pioneer, decided as a teenager that military aviation was the best way for him to get into flying. With no Air Force Academy at the time, he went to West Point.

In October 1963, NASA selected Aldrin to be an astronaut. He ended up logging almost 290 hours in space, including a 5 1/2-hour spacewalk during Gemini 12 in November 1966 that set a then-record for spacewalking, according to

Then, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Aldrin said he remembers telling his wife in January 1969, before the mission crew was announced, that he'd "just as soon be on a later mission to the moon than Apollo 11 because of all the attention and commitments to speeches and everything else (I'd) have to deal with."

"That hardly sounds like a person motivated to carry around the title to be first on the moon rather than second," Buzz Aldrin said.

Aldrin said it would have been inappropriate for Armstrong, the senior crew member and mission commander, to stay inside while he, the junior member, stepped out first.

Asked about the Bush administration's new space goal to land on Mars, Aldrin said: "I think humans will go there, but, when we go to Mars, we better commit to permanence. Otherwise, (we're) spending a lot to prove to ourselves we can do it. That's not a good enough reason."

If you go ...

WHAT: Buzz Aldrin: "The Apollo Dream"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26

COST: $15

WHERE: H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, Shippensburg University, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, Pa.

MORE: For tickets, call 717-477-7469, go to or stop by the Luhrs Center Box Office between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

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