Astronaut Buzz Aldrin did a Reddit AMA last night. Here’s what we learned.
1. This is what went through his mind when he first saw Earth from space.
3. Aldrin wants America, not the private sector, to lead the first crewed mission to Mars.
I expect that within 2 decades of the 5th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, that within 2 decades America will lead an international presence on Planet Mars. Some people may be rooting for Elon - I think he could, with his SpaceX, contribute considerably, enormously, to an international activity not only at the moon but also on Mars. I have considered whether a landing on Mars could be done by the private sector. It conflicts with my very strong idea, concept, conviction, that the first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth.
4. He thinks the first people to go to Mars should not come back.
They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony / settlement, I call it a “permanence.” A settlement you can visit once or twice, come back, and then decide you want to settle. Same with a colony. But you want it to be permanent from the get-go, from the very first.
5. And has thought about how a one way trip to Mars could be done.
I know that many people don’t feel that that should be done. Some people even consider it distinctly a suicide mission. Not me! Not at all. Because we will plan, we will construct from the moon of Mars, over a period of 6-7 years, the landing of different objects at the landing site that will be brought together to form a complete Mars habitat and laboratory, similar to what has been done at the Moon.
6. His thinks Sandra Bullock deserved an Oscar for Gravity.
7. But his favourite movie about space is 2001: A Space Odyssey.
8. He went off-script on the way back from the moon and it all got a bit scary.
I believe it was after leaving the surface of the moon and completing a successful rendezvous with Mike Collins in the command module, as we approached connecting / docking, the procedures in the checklist said one thing, and I thought maybe doing it a slightly different way, rolling and pitching instead of something else, and I thought that was better on the spur of the moment! It turns out that it was not a good thing to do, because it caused the platform to become locked, and we were not able to use the primary thrusters, the primary guidance, to control the spacecraft, to its final few feet to dock and join the other spacecraft. That was my mistake. I suggested to my commander that we do it differently, and it was his mistake to assume that i knew what I was talking about. So we both made mistakes - brought about by me! We recovered successfully on the “abort guidance” system.
(I don’t admit that to many people)
(but I’m sure the mission controllers in Houston, while it was happening or certainly afterwards, they certainly knew what had happened, but fortunately they didn’t squeal on us)
9. He doesn’t waste his time thinking about moon landing conspiracy theorists.
I personally don’t waste very much of my time on what is so obvious to a really thinking person, of all the evidence - we talked about Carl Sagan recently, who made a very prophetic observation. He said that “extraordinary observations require extraordinary evidence to make them believable.” There is not extraordinary evidence of (as far as I know) all the claims that have been made that we did NOT go to the Moon.
10. He’s been to the wreck of the Titanic in a yellow submarine.
I was very close to the top of my class at West Point. And I continued to expand my understanding of the world around me, and the human evolutions here on earth, the achievements perhaps to other people are impressive when I tell them that not only have I been to the North Pole, I haven’t been to the South Pole yet, but I have been to the Titanic in a little yellow french submarine. It took an hour and a half just to sink down in the ocean about 2 miles deep to look out the thick glass window and see the Titanic. The visibility was such that we could see the bow, it became very famous in the movie thanks to James Cameron, but the visibility was not so good that you could actually see the bottom of the ocean that the Titanic was resting on. So it was an eerie site, of a ship festooned with rusting metal, like gingerbread. Floating, floating out the window in the Ocean.
11. His favourite flavour of ice cream is coconut.
12. “Magnificent desolation” is how he describes the lunar landscape.
My first words of my impression of being on the surface of the Moon that just came to my mind was “Magnificent desolation.” The magnificence of human beings, humanity, Planet Earth, maturing the technologies, imagination and courage to expand our capabilities beyond the next ocean, to dream about being on the Moon, and then taking advantage of increases in technology and carrying out that dream - achieving that is magnificent testimony to humanity. But it is also desolate - there is no place on earth as desolate as what I was viewing in those first moments on the Lunar Surface.
Because I realized what I was looking at, towards the horizon and in every direction, had not changed in hundreds, thousands of years. Beyond me I could see the moon curving away - no atmosphere, black sky. Cold. Colder than anyone could experience on Earth when the sun is up- but when the sun is up for 14 days, it gets very, very hot. No sign of life whatsoever.
That is desolate. More desolate than any place on Earth.
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