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Astronaut Aldrin in Alameda to Celebrate Lunar Landings

Buzz Aldrin holding a copy of "Congress at Your Fingertips" (Action Alameda News)

Buzz Aldrin holding a copy of “Congress at Your Fingertips” (Action Alameda News)

A spry and wisecracking 84 year-old astronaut Buzz Aldrin took center stage today at the USS Hornet Museum, which was celebrating the 45th anniversary of the return to earth of the Apollo 11 moon mission, and recovery of the space capsule, with Aldrin in it, by the USS Hornet, July 24th, 1969.

The USS Hornet was abuzz again today, not with the sounds of aircraft, but with a series of events featuring Aldrin and other exhibitors as part of a day-long celebration that museum officials called Splashdown 45.

At a morning press conference, Aldrin was flanked by members of the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 mission recovery crews, whose names are reproduced below, and two members of a private security detail.

In his remarks, Aldrin decried reductions in federal funding for space programs, urged his audience to contact their elected representatives, and exhorted reporters to ask “about the future.”

Some of Alrin’s more colorful comments:

“We didn’t have this term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) back then because we were leaders in all that. We need it now to catch up.”

“To be crass, fighter pilots have ice in their veins. We don’t feel, we execute.” (During the Korean War, Aldrin flew more than 60 combat missions in F-86 Sabre jets and shot down two enemy MiG jets.)

“…what one individual, who’s an egghead from MIT, and happened to have the opportunity to kick some dust on the moon, you know, his ideas don’t have the same strength as the politicians do.” (Responding to a reporter’s question about what NASA should focus on in the coming years. Aldrin turned down a full scholarship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) and went instead to the United States Military Academy at West Point.)

“Get your ass to Mars!” (On NASA’s future.)

“President Kennedy said the goal was to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth. He didn’t say anything about taking a walk around, he didn’t say anything about sending two men, and he didn’t say anything about sending a woman with them.”

“The moon is several shades of grey…that sounds like the title of a book doesn’t it?”

Don Blair, a mission recovery team member, told Action Alameda News, “I’ll be here for the 50th anniversary. I never miss it…they’ll have to wheel me in.”

Splashdown 45 Exhibits
Among the many exhibits on the Hornet today, volunteers from NASA Ames Research Center staffed a booth that challenged children to make a mock lunar lander module; Team 254 the Cheesy Poofs, a Bay-area high-school robotics club, provided demonstrations.

Andy and Daniel Morrow, and their children, Sienna, Austin, Brody and a nephew, Jay, were standing in line at a Lick Observatory exhibit on the flight deck, waiting to look at the sun through a filtered telescope.

Andy Morrow told Action Alameda News, “we came here to see Buzz Aldrin and enjoy the planes and the aircraft carrier. The kids seemed very interested in the [Apollo mission test] capsule.”

Recovery Team Members

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