Aldrin lends voice to film, hopes for future space travels

The Baltimore Sun

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If you were around in July 1969, chances are you remember exactly where you were when Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, touched down and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. took their first steps there.

Now the Eagle has landed again, reimagined, for a new generation. The 3-D animated film Fly Me to the Moon tells the tale of a young fly named Nat who stows away aboard Apollo 11 with a couple of his buddies and accompanies Armstrong on the moonwalk.

The movie, which opens today, boasts some real star wattage, featuring the voices of Kelly Ripa, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry and Nicollette Sheridan - although none flies quite as high as the street (or rather space) cred of Aldrin, who stars as himself.

It might come as a surprise that Aldrin would choose to appear in a children's film, but he has been a longtime advocate for both space exploration and education. In fact, he has written a children's book, Reaching for the Moon, which encourages young readers to aim high.

Fly Me to the Moon mixes sound bites from NASA transcripts with the chatter of cartoon insects.

At the film's premiere at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Los Angeles last week, both kids and parents looked satisfied.

Afterward, Aldrin, 78, who looked dapper in a hand-tailored plaid suit, greeted admirers young and old.

He said he expected there would be plenty of opportunities to experience zero gravity as well as fly around the moon. And he offered one far-fetched prediction.

"I am trying to get people to realize that maybe 20 or 30 years from now, we will be sending people to Mars, and they are just about being born now," he said. "And I am trying to convince people that this is going to be a permanent movement from Earth to somewhere else, like the Mayflower."

While reminding the audience to reach for the stars, Aldrin took care to say that he does not expect his 19-year-old grandson, who accompanied his grandfather to the premiere, to follow in his famous footsteps.

As he put it, "You need to chart your own course."

Lea Lion writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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