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Aldrin focuses on future in space

October 27, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

SHIPPENSBURG, PA. - Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin visited Shippensburg University on Thursday and spoke casually of the past, the present and, as he said, "most importantly" the future.

"We need to get back into exploration," the 76-year-old said to the audience of about 1,000 people, reassuring them that if America did, "we will get to Mars."

Since his landmark flight in 1969, Aldrin has spent his life working in space exploration. The founder of the Share Space Foundation, Aldrin said one of his foundation's goals is to encourage students so that future generations can experience what space is like.

"Experiencing space shouldn't only be for the wealthy," he said.

Aldrin said his foundation is working to provide the average American with the chance to experience zero and lunar gravity.

While Aldrin shared his dream of the future, including 26-month "Aldrin Orbits" to Mars, he dedicated most of his time Thursday to telling people his story of the Apollo XI moon landing. Beginning his story with the inspiration he received as a child from his father and going through his doctoral thesis, Aldrin told the audience of his journey into space.

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Complete with pictures taken by both Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the man credited with taking the first step on the moon, Aldrin described the texture of the moon, his emotions as he prepared to land on its surface and the secret of how they got their flag to wave on the breezeless moon.

"Of the six flags up there, ours looks the best," Aldrin said, saying they used a tangential rod to hold the flag open.

Aldrin, a graduate of both the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and MIT, has written books and given many lectures on his famous walk on the moon. But for all his fame, he humbly admits he is happy that Armstrong has more.

"I never would want the attention of having stepped out first," he quipped.

For a man who believes the feeling of reaching orbit to be "one of the most satisfying experiences," Aldrin has no plans of returning to space.

"I've been there and done that," he said when an audience member asked if he dreamed of going back. "Let's let other people do that now."

For now, Aldrin said he will make his contributions toward the goal of reaching Mars.

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