Buzz Aldrin Answers Your Questions

DESCRIPTIONBuzz Aldrin

Last week, we solicited your questions for former astronaut and second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin, and we asked him a few of our own:

Q.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about the Apollo 11 mission?

A.

No matter what you say you saw, people are going to look for their moment of glory by disputing it. I didn’t expect at our first public appearance as a crew [after returning from the Apollo 11 mission] that students would throw eggs at us.

Q.

What was the most difficult part of the mission?

A.

Dealing with the aftermath. Your life changes because of the significance of being put on a historical pedestal and the demands of answering questions like “what did it feel like?” “what were your emotions?” and other vague questions. To tell them that I took a leak on the moon jazzes up interest, but it doesn’t answer the question. I was able to fabricate an answer that might be satisfying to the questioner, but it may not be truth at all. It still happens today, 40 years later.

Q.

What’s your favorite sci-fi movie?

A.

2001.

Here are Aldrin’s answers to your questions. Thanks to him and to all of you for the fine questions.

Q.

You’ve been the most prominent former astronaut of any era of the American space program. Why do you think so few other astronauts have become vocal advocates for science and space exploration? Why was it important for you to do it? — Noadi

A.

I can’t answer for the other people. My interest has always been looking at the big picture and the future. At MIT, I was always looking for improvements I could investigate; ever since, I felt that my expertise is in devising new and different ways of doing things. My intuition and experience have given me an understanding; I probably have absorbed way more than any of the other earlier astronauts.

[At first] I guess I was somewhat naive and awed by the enormity of the things we were involved in. I wasn’t that sure of myself. Then I began to see I could have insights on how to do things differently; but I had to have open mind and accept criticism.

Q.

What factors would you consider most important when selecting people
to make policy about future space programs? In your experience, are astronauts good policy makers? — Charlie Wood

A.

I think the policy makers must be visionary, long-term thinkers. Politicians are not good long-term policy makers. Generally speaking, astronauts do not have the breadth of overall experience.

Q.

My uninformed observation is that the initial “moon shot” took a WWII view of personal risk (i.e., in war, sometimes people die). Modern missions seem very unwilling to take risks with lives. What do you think of this current balance? — Jonathan

A.

I think there’s a lot of tendency in new generations to avoid risk in professions that are highly regarded, like serving your country in the military. The sensationalism of risk is greatly overplayed by the media. In my opinion, military training is the best training one could have for the risks involved in space flight.

Q.

What do you believe are the biggest hardships in designing a space module which can sustain long stays on the moon or any extra-terrestrial surface? — Matt Cocuzzo

A.

Radiation protection is number one; body conditioning of astronauts is number two. Then we worry about transporting enough consumables for sustained nourishment and life support.

Q.

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? — Joe

A.

It depends on what’s considered profitable. National survival is pretty high on my list. That was the result of the space program: we brought about the end of the Cold War.

National security goes along with the development of the aerospace industry. Orbital flight is what people eventually want to do. Electric power from space is a long-term, high-potential solution to our energy problems.

Q.

The world watched you on July 20, 1969. Now the media is interested in the space program only when there’s been a disaster. Is it better for the space program to have all of the media exposure and the pressure, or, without it, a lack of public interest? — Jim

A.

I think the entire populace needs to look at longer-term consequences, and the responsibility of the media is exceptionally critical in this regard.

[Continuing space exploration] requires a more educated and enlightened populace — especially the younger generations. We can change views by exposing more people to the potential of gradual experiences of space flight, and that’s the purpose of my nonprofit, ShareSpace.

Q.

How do you respond to people who say that moon missions were faked? — Jim

A.

These are selfish people looking for attention, and they prey on the gullibility of an uninformed public.


john

I knew someone would ask about moon missions being faked. Sigh...

Kevin

Do you think Alan Bean is a good painter?

Marcel F. Williams

Throwing eggs at the at the Apollo 11 astronauts! I still encounter people who believe that the Moon landings were fake. This world is only one large asteroid strike away from moving back to the 16th century.

Permanently expanding our civilization beyond the Earth might finally put an end to these fools! And that can't come soon enough, IMO.

RAH

There is a chunk of rock in the vicinity of the asteroid belt, which contains hundreds of thrillions of dollars worth ofprecious metals. (The Eros asteroid). How's that for a goal in space? Let's figure out how to safely orbital-transfer this sucker to an orbit between Earth and Moon and mine it.

Whether we have to pay a few billion for launching automated mass drivers, collisions with robocraft or Bruce Willis - this will be worth it. (Even if the only way to get any value out of the thing would be to explode great hulking chunks of platinum out of it and sending them into China to help pay down our national debt).

Volcanic

It's awesome that you are still working so hard to promote the world of science - thanks Buzz!

Traciatim

Wow, I took a poll at work and found that about 4 of the 10 people in my immediate vicinity believe the moon landings were staged. Even when faced with pretty much foolproof evidence that we've been there they still think it's all part of a conspiracy.

It's sad really.

Albert Lewis

@3: "This world is only one large asteroid strike away from moving back to the 16th century."

You think the result would be a society as advanced as that?

Wikipedia: "During the 16th century, Spain and Portugal explored and conquered the world seas. Latin America became a Spanish colony, while Portugal became the master of the Indian Ocean.

"In Europe, the Protestant Reformation gave a major blow to the authority of the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. European politics became dominated by religious conflicts, with the groundwork for the epochal Thirty Years' War being laid towards the end of the century."

James

Buzz Aldrin, in regards to commercial space travel, should I start packing my bag, or should I wait a little while?

RonM

It's not the moon landings that were staged. It's the moon itself. We are all living in a giant "Truman Show" world with lights for the sun, moon and stars. it is so well planned that "they" even have different wavelength lamps to make it look like the universe is expanding.

DHM

Ali G had some great questions for "Buzz Lightyear". My favorite was "Is it true that the moon is fake?"

sean ikon

I was hoping his answer to "What's your favorite sci-fi movie?" would have been Capricorn One.

After all these years

Some people are unable to accept the fact that they are not smart or educated enough to comprehend achievements out at the far limit of human progress. They resent and envy those who are crossing boundaries, reaching high (literally!) goals, and becoming a part of history. If only, they think, these achievements could be negated or nullified; these people brought down, then they would not be such nobodies.

A silly acquaintance of mine had it all figured out "why" the landing was faked. It was a stupid, worthless argument, and he was dumb as a trout, but he thought he was pretty clever for "debunking" the moon landing. He thought I was a snob; I guess I am. I admire high achievers, and I enjoy learning about amazing facts like the moon launch and evolution. But the ignorant and superstitious are just as hopeless today as they were hundreds of years ago.

bb

Buzz, which Star Trek character do you identify with the most?

Ralph

Now that is a real hero, warts and all. Eloquent, thoughtful, straightforward, and educated. He also accepts and talks about the difficulties he has faced in his life contextually but without shifting responsibility. He is a strategist and a problem solver, as were so many of those chosen in the first rounds of the manned space programme. Buzz Aldrin is himself a too-rare validation of NASA, and a phenomenal argument for continuing with and properly expanding the US and International manned space programmes.

Chris

It's been 40 years already! I want to know why I'm still waiting for my damned jet pack!!!

Seriously Buzz, thanks for everything!

BSK

The space program ended the Cold War??? Propaganda much?

Subhadra

"Politicians are not good long-term policy makers."

We need folks like Buzz in politics.

As Ralph (#14) says, "Eloquent, thoughtful, straightforward, and educated... a strategist and a problem solver".

We could use some of that.

It would have made a good question to ask him if he was up to it.

Derick

I don't believe in Buzz Aldrin.

steve

I liked his last answer. What Mr. Aldrin seems to be saying is that, more than just being deluded themselves, conspiracy theorists traffic in delusion.

lessi

i remember watching it and i can think of nothing i'd rather do more (though i'd be petrified) than be an astronaut that gets to do space travel. awesome!!!