In 2006, I had the honor of interviewing the second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin.
It’s been 52 years ago this week that earth celebrated one of the most historical milestones in history as United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the moon for 21 hours. Many Baby Boomers and space enthusiasts today recall Armstrong’s first words as his boots touched the lunar surface: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I was fortunate to gather some interesting trivia and facts about the second man on the moon. Dr. Aldrin, now 91, was bestowed the nickname “Buzz” from his baby sister who could only say “Buzzer” instead of “brother” in their New Jersey home. Little did they know this would evolve into the recognizable inspiration for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear’s name decades later.
Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. stepped on the moon at 03:15:16 Coordinated Universal Time on July 21, 1969. “Beautiful view,” Aldrin simply uttered the first words to describe what he was experiencing. “Magnificent desolation.”
New information previously not generally known by the public released by Aldrin recently, combined with the 2006 interview by Dennis, is revealed below:
When probed about Armstrong and him sighting an UFO on their voyage to the moon, Aldrin beamed. “Yes, we saw something,” he clarified. “But you have to remember the times. We could not blare it out that we saw any UFO because everyone was listening and hanging on to every word we said.”
“Delicately, we asked Houston the location of the SIVB (booster rocket) and they told us something like it was 6,000 miles away,” Aldrin continued. “I remember we talked about it as being L-shaped.”
“Over the years, there have been many suppositions and misrepresentations, but we believe now it was a panel left over from the separation of the spacecraft,” winked Aldrin playfully.
The two were on the lunar surface for 21 hours and returned to earth with 46 pounds of moon rocks and specimens.
Did Aldrin feel any pressure to say or not say anything publicly while he was on the moon?
“Not censorship, if that is what you are implying,” he answered. “We knew what we were doing was unparalleled and extraordinary in human history so we took our choice of words into account as part of our responsibility.”
“Just a few minutes on the moon, I did make a statement of reflection asking everyone to give thanks for the moment,” Aldrin said. “And then, with the radio off, I read from the Scripture. Only Neil (Armstrong) heard me.”
Aldrin took a communion wafer and vial of wine from his minister to the surface of the moon.
“I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me,” wrote Aldrin years after the mission. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.”
“Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me you can do nothing,'” he wrote.
Aldrin continued, “It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
It is also interesting to note that Aldrin was the first astronaut to earn a doctorate degree. His thesis was the foundation and idea for the docking procedures used in the Gemini and Apollo missions. He was the first astronaut to accomplish a successful spacewalk, while during the Gemini 12 mission of 1966, he was outside the capsule for 5 1/2 hours.
What are Aldrin’s ideas about climate change?
“I think the climate has been changing for billions of years. If it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I’m not necessarily of the school that we are causing it all, I think the world is causing it.”
Moon germ worries.
Amid concerns over what germs the astronauts might have brought back with them from the moon, they were kept in quarantine for three weeks after their return to Earth before they could be reunited with their families. The quarantine experience “quickly became oppressive” according to a NASA history of the mission.
The astronauts had to wear “biological isolation garments” before they went into quarantine, where they had to keep themselves entertained with an exercise room, a ping pong table, television, reading material and phone calls to their families. The suits were to ensure that “the lunar dust we brought back wouldn’t give people on earth our moon germs,” Aldrin said.
“I always found it funny that the rags used to wipe us down that were covered with moon dust were dropped in the ocean,” he tweeted. “So the poor underwater creatures got our moon germs instead.”
Aldrin then suggested that the moon dust in the ocean could be “fodder for a Godzilla movie.”