It’s a very inspiring mission, which I strongly support. It would be a year and a half, for the crew, and we would learn many things about having people in space for a long duration: radiation exposure, the high-speed reentry, many other things. But the major thing is firing up our leaders and the people to adequately fund further exploration.
A lot of American technological genius these days seems to be devoted to social media and the Internet. Do you worry that our best minds are working on apps for your iPhone rather than trying to get us to Mars?
Not necessarily. That’s progress, and I’m trying to keep up with communication enhancement and information technology, so I can communicate with this younger generation. Sometimes people pay more attention to me than they do to the news from NASA. An example is “Dancing with the Stars,” the popular TV program. For many people I’m more known for that and several other television appearances than for the moon landing. I try and remain visible to the public. Your generation developed all of this technology, and I’m trying to catch up with all of it. But it obviously is a distraction, just like the Notre Dame football team and the Lone Ranger were for me growing up.
What was it like to walk on the moon?
My observation was, “Magnificent desolation.” It was magnificent for the human race to be able, as Neil Armstrong said, to take that step. But the desolation for the people taking that small step—it was more desolate than any scenery here on Earth.
What were your emotions when you were taking that step?
Caution, apprehension and exhilaration. Not fear. That comes after. I was following my commander and executing what we trained for.
Do you have a question for Buzz Aldrin? Ask him as a part of our “The Future is Here” conference on June 1. The answers will be filmed and streamed live from the event on that day.
He will also be signing copies of his book at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, from 11 am to 2 pm on June 1 in the museum gift shop.