Astronaut Buzz Aldrin: We need enthusiasm, resources to explore space

CULPEPER, Va. — The second man to walk on the moon says the United States
has lost the enthusiasm we saw in the 1960s for space exploration.

“Back then we were proud; we’re not so proud today,” said Apollo astronaut
Buzz Aldrin during an interview with WTOP at Germanna Community College’s
Daniel Technology Center.

Aldrin said that today, “we’re getting spoiled to think that there’s nothing
that we can’t do.”

The 84-year-old was on board Apollo 11 and joined Neal Armstrong on the Eagle
lunar lander, making history as the second man to set foot on the moon on July
20, 1969.

Aldrin says if America wants to head beyond the moon, to places such as Mars,
more resources are needed.

“It was easy to get to the Moon in comparison to going to Mars,” Aldrin said.

In the 1960s, Aldrin points out, three to four percent of the U.S. budget went
to NASA and space exploration. In 2013, according to the U.S. Office of
Management and Budget, only .49 percent of the budget went to NASA.

The most expensive period of NASA’s Apollo program was two years before the
historic moon walk.

“We need to make people realize that you don’t get something for nothing,”
Aldrin says.

Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle, space flight has largely shifted to
the private sector. In recent weeks, much of the progress has been
overshadowed by two accidents involving space vehicles.

Last month, an Orbital Sciences unmanned rocket exploded during takeoff from Wallops Island, Virginia. Then, days
later, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo broke apart in
California, killing a pilot.

When asked about the incidents, Aldrin says tragedies such as these are
possible when new technology is tested.

“It takes a lot of oomph and a lot of mistakes to get into orbit,” Aldrin
said.

He says with the mistakes comes a better understanding. He says we saw similar
accidents with the introduction of manned rockets and the introduction of
airplanes as testing and experimentation took place.

With aviation, Aldrin says, the military saw accidents with pilots, but
airplanes were still used for mail delivery. After that, the private sector
took notice, he says, eventually leading to commercial air travel.

When it comes to commercial space travel, Aldrin believes there is a place for
it, saying it’s “here to stay!”

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