Bring Your Questions for Buzz Aldrin

DESCRIPTIONBuzz Aldrin

On Saturday, Buzz Aldrin became the first astronaut to accept an Emmy award.

He was also the second person to set foot on the moon. On July 20, 1969, Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong, spent 21 hours on the lunar surface while some 600 million people watched from Earth. He later had an asteroid and a crater named after him.

Since retiring from the Air Force and NASA, Aldrin designed the Aldrin Mars Cycler, a “subway in the sky,” and received three patents, including one for multi-crew space modules. He founded Starcraft Boosters, Inc., a rocket design company, and the nonprofit ShareSpace Foundation, devoted to space education programs and advocacy.

In addition to several children’s books and other works of fiction and non-fiction, he recently published his autobiography, Magnificent Desolation. And he has recorded a rap single, “Rocket Experience,” with Snoop Dogg.

Before working for NASA, Aldrin received a Distinguished Flying Cross from the Air Force and earned a doctorate in astronautics at MIT. His mother’s maiden name was … yes: Moon. How aptonymic of her.

Aldrin has agreed to take your questions — about NASA, walking on the moon, the value to society of space exploration, or anything else you can conjure — so ask away in the comments section below. As with all Q&A’s, we will post his answers here in a few days.


Charlie Wood

What factors did NASA consider to be most important when selecting astronauts for the Apollo program? What factors would you consider most important when selecting people to make policy about future space programs? In your experience, do astronauts make good policy makers?

Respectfully,
Charlie Wood

Ian L.

To me, you do not look like a person who would listen to the rap genre of music. What led you to record the single "Rocket Experience" with Snoop Dogg?

Mike B

I would be interesting to know how Buzz feels about being the lunar astronaut who has perhaps cultivated the most publicity from his past exploits (in stark contrast to fellow moonwalker Neill Armstrong). Does he do it for the fun, the money (not that there's anything wrong with that) or some sense of duty seeing as how Armstrong has chosen to be so private and "somebody" needs to get out and stump for space exploration.

Joe

Buzz, you've cowritten several books that describe a future where space exploration is not only commonplace but profitable. Do you see anyone out there today among the big name - or small name - industrialists who could make space exploration profitable in a serious way (minerals, energy, etc., not just tourism), or is it too far in the future at this point? What industry do you think it will be in?

Mars

Do you think aliens exist, and if so, have they visited us?

Should we only send robots to space?

How did it feel to punch the guy who thought you didn't go on the moon?

Was it a mistake to send John Glenn back into space?

What do you think of a lunar space base?

What do you think of a martian space base?

What do you think of the possibility of Martian Terraformation?

Jamie McAllister

If you'd had a spacecraft that could take you anywhere in the universe instantaneously, where would you have gone other than the Moon back in 1969?

Would your preferred destination have changed due to any new knowledge about the universe we have in 2009?

BIll Cooper

Buzz, When will get to Mars.

Jonathan

You have suggested that a trip to Mars should be a one way trip, for pioneers who would set up a colony. From a technical point of view I agree, however I feel society may not be ready for this.

Would you have signed up for such a trip? Have you spoken to others who would?
Many of the pioneers were in a situation where to NOT leave had a high risk of death. What reasons do you think people would have to sign on to a one way trip to Mars, and which of those would you consider to be good reasons?

Ed

Can and if so how best should the US use international cooperation on space missions with countries like China, Russia and India to build mutual respect and avoid a future space military race? Should these be planetary explorers, continue to focus on the ISS, or others?

John Zabrenski

Buzz,
Please comment on the Constellation program. It looks like back to the future to the Saturn program. The Russians continue to use the Soyez and Energia rockets that date back to the 60's. Now, we appear to be going back there too except the new program will cost a ton of money and take a long time to unfold. The Russian program seems like a bargain by comparison. Why not build our own capsules and buy their boosters and reverse engineer them. Would it be faster and cheaper than the new program?

Jonathan

Space exploration involves a trade-off between astronaut risk, financial cost, and time cost per mission.

My uninformed observation is that the initial 'moon shot' took a WWII view on personal risk (ie, in war sometimes people die). Modern missions seem very unwilling to take risks with lives.

What do you think of this current balance?

Allison

What did you think of James Marsters's recent portrayal of you?

Patrick

You recently referred to a "monolith" on one of the moons of Mars. Can you please elaborate? What monolith?

Sayan Ghosh

Do you believe that mankind would ever survive to enter the space age, when traveling to interstellar space in light speeds would be a necessity, and that we will live amidst an intergalactic mix of races across several planets? Could Star Trek become a reality? Do you see a need for that?

Harrkar

Have read any of 'Isaac Asimov's' fictions? What do you think of 'Foundation Series'? Which was your favorite science fiction?

ben

Did Neil Armstrong really say "...and God bless you Mr. Gorsky, wherever you are" after his famous first words from the moon?

M

It seems to me that human space exploration has stagnated since the wondrous days of Apollo. Some of the energy and willpower of those early days came from the anxiety of the Cold War, and that we would be bested by the Soviets. Do you think we can achieve even more ambitious feats of human space exploration without such threatening competition? Will it require a new Cold War for human beings to actually commit the resources, time, and lives to reach Mars?

MB

Which aliens do you like the most and why?

Doug Greiner

It seems as though the US Space Program has 'stalled' in recent years when compared to the glory days of Apollo and Gemini. Interest in the Space Program by youngsters (and the media in general) seems to be at an all time low. I remember that when I was a child, the most common answer to the 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' question was Astronaut (followed by Baseball Player).

Has the 'talent' at NASA degraded because of the lack of exposure for the space program?

What will it take to bring space exploration back into the minds and dreams of young folks?

Will the best and brighest engineers of tomorrow still hold NASA in high regard, or will they continue to head into the private sector?

Tom

It's become popular lately to assert that the government can do nothing right, citing examples like Amtrak and the Post Office. Are the NASA programs you've been involved with evidence one way or the other?