Dr. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, discusses what made him successful, what his dreams are, and the mistakes he made.
You can read The Global Townhall’s three other interviews with Dr. Buzz Aldrin here: First Interview, Second Interview, Third Interview.
Gabrielle Reilly: As you reflect over your life, what do you think has been the recipe for your success that could potentially help our readers with their life?
Buzz Aldrin: Well I think first and foremost would be the overall education that I’ve received. Formal education and a wonderful school system in my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, and then I went rather directly to West Point as a route to Air Force so I could go through pilot training.
Overall I think the discipline of being and serving in the military has made me successful. I hope it makes veterans proud and I’m trying to pass the word on to veterans and many others that by law in ’08 they may now salute during the Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning of sporting events and other indoor or outdoor formal occasions.
I learned from people around me who have more talents, and that would include test-pilot trained people. I did not receive that but I immediately, on selection as an astronaut, I came into the company of very disciplined aviators. I could see the determination, the kind of A+ personalities and I learned a lot from being surrounded by these people. I watched how they reacted to each other.
Unfortunately there are a couple of regrets in my progression of life. One is that I sort of gave up early on not writing a lot of my thoughts down, I was just thinking and talking about things. Now that’s come back to be a significant detriment to my activities. In writing books, I talked to a co-author and then have to work over things to see what he’s recorded and written down correctly.
There are kind of other regrets. I was advanced by my father in education, maybe a little bit too quickly. So when I got to West Point where I readily learned the principles, the model of duty and to honor our country. Maybe I was young enough to have that make a very lasting impact on me as I discovered a classmate cheating and then found that even though found guilty he remained as a cadet. He graduated and became a general officer and that sort of soured my idealism. Everyone does not behave according to the rules and people will maybe disappoint you.
Also, there were a couple of times I did not speak up when I had strong feelings. Most people who know me think that I’m speaking up all the time but my two greatest mistakes as an astronaut and beyond were not speaking up in defense of ideas that I thought were wrong or that I thought should have been continued.
Now today I’m seeing tremendous interest erroneously in short term, politically-motivated interests that have hampered the growth of our space program. And maybe that’s why I have two projects underway. One is my own personal view of what the future should be up to and beyond Mars; permanent occupancy by human beings pioneered by the United States. And the other is a review of United States policy that has allowed things to become disrupted by competitive short-term interest but not the proper organization or supervision at a pretty high level. Now I’m kind of sounding off to you about things that trouble me right now.
Gabrielle Reilly: Well that is some information we could all use. What compelled you to be on Dancing with the Stars and how was the experience?
Buzz Aldrin: Well it was very trying. I don’t think I’m going to offer to do it again! But it increased my visibility among a whole new group of people. Perhaps they wondered what did I do in the past and to show maybe I know something about what we should do in the future. Since I’m publicly visible maybe I can inform them at some opportunity just what I wanted to show them that I’m outward thinking and that I am thinking of the outward objectives of the United States.
Gabrielle Reilly: So you want to be a visionary and influence people that way to get back to big dreaming again?
Buzz Aldrin: Well I took an oath of office to serve my country and I’ve been given tremendous opportunities to be able to do that in combat in the Korean War and through the astronaut program. And now by taking my experience and projecting it into the future based on experiences and education.
Gabrielle Reilly: Talking about the past, I have a question from Bret Calkins “How do you believe the moon was created?"
Buzz Aldrin: Well I think the most accepted theory now, after we brought back material from the moon, is that early in the solar system and early in the formation of the earth, a large object maybe as big as Mars, collided with the earth. It spun off material that went outward and took material from the earth and other material that became the moon. Some weird things do happen when things collide with each other and go on to form other objects. Before that it was thought that maybe it formed at the same time that the Earth did.
Gabrielle Reilly: And so what were you thinking when you stepped onto the moon?
Buzz Aldrin: Well I was thinking 15 – 20 minutes earlier when I was looking out the window as Neil went down the ladder first for his, “Small step for man, the giant leap for mankind” that at least we would have an early grab sample before the rock boxes were sent down by me to him at the bottom of the ladder. He was collecting a contingency sample in case anything went wrong, and we proceeded through with a number of experiments.
So while he was doing that I could see that moving around was going to be relatively easy. I sort of felt that way anyway because a little bit of gravity will give you just what you need in terms of being able to sort of shuffle around with steps that are larger than you would here, but no loss of balance at all. And you can quickly recover from any leaning over where you might fall, you can quickly recover on the moon. So that was an early discovery of mine.
Gabrielle Reilly: Well thanks so much for your time Dr. Aldrin, this was just fascinating.