Buzz Aldrin, at the L.A. Times Festival of Books in 2010, spoke his mind in a Reddit AMA.
Buzz Aldrin, at the L.A. Times Festival of Books in 2010, spoke his mind in a Reddit AMA. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Buzz Aldrin, the second human to walk on the moon, took to Reddit on Tuesday to promote the 45th anniversary of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 moon landing.

Calling himself a "global space statesman," Aldrin answered questions about colonizing Mars, Elon Musk, his favorite movies about space and his appearance on "30 Rock."


Here are some highlights, verbatim from the Reddit AMA:

On his favorite films about space:

I thought that the movie "Gravity," the depiction of people moving around in zero gravity, was really the best I have seen. The free-falling, the actions that took place between two people, were very, I think, exaggerated, but probably bent the laws of physics. But to a person who's been in space, we would cringe looking at something that we hoped would NEVER, EVER Happen. It's very thrilling for the person who's never been there, because it portrays the hazards, the dangers that could come about if things begin to go wrong, and I think that as I came out of that movie, I said to myself and others, "Sandra Bullock deserves an Oscar."

On the U.S. returning to the moon:

Returning to the Moon with NASA astronauts is not the best usage of our resources. Because OUR resources should be directed to outward, beyond-the-moon, to establishing habitation and laboratories on the surface of Mars that can be built, assembled, from the close-by moons of Mars. With very little time delay - a second or less. Much better than controlling things on the Moon from the Earth. So when NASA funding comes up for review, please call your lawmakers to support it.

On Elon Musk and his Space X, and the next "monumental achievement by humanity" in space:

Some people may be rooting for Elon -- I think he could, with his Space X, 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. 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.

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. Tourism trips to Mars and back are just not the appropriate way for human beings from Earth - to have an individual company, no matter how smart, send people to Mars and bring them back, it is VERY very expensive. It delays the obtaining of permanence, internationally.

Your question referred to a monumental achievement by humanity - that should not be one private company at all, it should be a collection of the best from all the countries on Earth, and the leader of the nation or the groups who makes a commitment to do that in 2 decades will be remembered throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years in the future of the history of humanity, beginning, commencing, a human occupation of the solar system.

On Carl Sagan, "Cosmos" and Neil deGrasse Tyson:

I met Carl Sagan and his wife. Both were very dedicated people to explaining to young people and to all people the benefits to be derived from space, the history of how our universe was formed, and the history of the advancement of the technologies that hundreds of years ago, enabled present day nations to use them to begin to add more science discoveries in space. And to write stories and television series that reach many people and after his passing away, you have a rejuvenation of the series COSMOS, featuring a very good friend of mine, Neil deGrasse Tyson. We were on a commission together to look at the future of space activities for the United States, that was about 12 years ago, and we've been good friends ever since. I was on his TV show. He did Michael Jackson's moonwalk far better than I did on "Dancing With the Stars."

On space aliens:

There may be aliens in our Milky Way galaxy, and there are billions of other galaxies. The probability is almost CERTAIN that there is life somewhere in space. It was not that remarkable, that special, that unusual, that life here on Earth evolved gradually, slowly, to where we are today.

But the distances involved in where some evidence of life may be, they may be hundreds of light-years away.

On his "30 Rock" appearance:

Well, "30 Rock" means 30 Rockefeller Plaza. My father, in 1925, 1926, in the Reserve of the Air Corps, worked as Aviation Fuel Manager for Standard Oil of New Jersey, that's where I lived at that time, and he would go into NYC and work at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. So when I was asked to consider participating, I jumped for joy, and I can't remember a more pleasant episode of discussions with Tina Fey as we talked about her fictitious mother's (I think it was) love affair that she had with me, Buzz Aldrin. And then we looked at the Moon, and we both sort of cursed at it for various reasons and said - I'll never forget the line - "I walked on your FACE!"

His words of advice for the crew of a future mission to Mars:

Realize that you are perhaps the most ambitious, the most historical pioneers that the Earth has produced since its beginning.

And you are given a great honor in spending the rest of your lives pioneering for mankind.


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