Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, has had such an extraordinary career and life. It is The Global Townhall's honor to welcome Dr. Aldrin as we tap into these unique experiences in this first of five interviews with him that include; his bucket list, the future of space exploration, his dedication to helping veterans, his suggestions for success and how going to the moon helped end the Cold War.
Gabrielle Reilly: Good morning Dr. Aldrin. How are you?
Buzz Aldrin: Well Gabrielle it's a nice sunny day here in Los Angeles and we're driving down to do another interview, but I sure would like to talk to you first.
Gabrielle Reilly: Great, we're so excited to have you on The Global Townhall. Actually you met some of my family from Australia recently in New York... Clive and Anna Palmer; the ones who are building the Titanic II. What a fantastic project! So how was lunch and what do you think of rebuilding the Titanic?
Buzz Aldrin: Oh, the Titanic, yeah we had a wonderful lunch at Cipriani, and I think that's just an outstanding project. You know a number of years ago I got in a little French submarine, a little yellow submarine, the Nautile and went down and down and down to see the Titanic. We wanted to bring up a piece of it but that somehow didn't quite work. Eventually it was brought up and I saw it on the surface here in Los Angeles. But that was one of my more wonderful experiences to extreme locations and environments. And I was very proud of that and I think the project of creating another Titanic will certainly have great appeal to a number of people.
Gabrielle Reilly: How about you? Are you planning on setting sail on it too?
Buzz Aldrin: Sure, sure.
Gabrielle Reilly: Great.
Buzz Aldrin: Tell me where, someplace I haven't been maybe.
Gabrielle Reilly: [Laughs] I believe the maiden voyage will actually be on the Titanic's original route between New York and South Hampton, England.
Buzz Aldrin: Well that would be great. (Laughs) I thought we might go to South Dakota. That's the one state I haven't been to yet. But my mission director, Christina comes from there and her little daughter Brielle is our mascot.
Gabrielle Reilly: Oh how cute. Actually you know another friend of mine I think. I'm not sure if you worked with him or not, Story Musgrave?
Buzz Aldrin: Well of course. He is a very, very versatile intelligent guy.
Gabrielle Reilly: Yes, he is brilliant. He is like 6 people packaged into one with all of the degrees he has accumulated from practicing surgeon to computer scientist.
Buzz Aldrin: Yes, I've consulted him on a few things for a book and I've talked to him about things like space adaptation syndrome. Now that's kind of a glorified word for initially getting dizzy and perhaps nauseous, maybe vomiting for certain people who are first exposed to space for the first couple of days. I'm not suggesting that he was one of them, but just as a theorist, like I am. And of course I didn't experience any discomfort.
Gabrielle Reilly: Oh wow, really?
Buzz Aldrin: But some people did, rather extreme.
Gabrielle Reilly: Ooh, that's not good. And just back onto the exciting adventures you mentioned like taking the submarine down to see the Titanic... Do you have any others that you've done that you could mention?
Buzz Aldrin: Why certainly, let me see. A while back my son presented me the opportunity of diving, which I've been diving since 1957. Now this diving was in the Galapagos and I had the opportunity to swim very close and associated with the giant whale sharks and there is a wonderful picture of me and the whale shark taken by my son who's a great underwater photographer.
And I've been to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear icebreaker. I haven't climbed mountains because that's just not on my bucket list. I'm a little beyond the point where I need that kind of muscular excitement and besides, it's a little hazardous going up and down Mount Everest. So what I have attempted to do, let's see I think I indicated that I went to the North Pole with, accompanied by a major space leader and his son on a Russian nuclear icebreaker. And there is a plan afoot where my son and I just may drive, ride along with Hummers to the South Pole on the surface.
Gabrielle Reilly: Wow.
Buzz Aldrin: This November - December time period. I'm not going to jump out of a balloon at some atmospheric height and I'm not going to bungee dive or do those other things. I really think that my planning of the future is far better than taking a commercial suborbital flight. The people who offer that would consider that they just gave me a couple hundred thousand dollars. They're getting the publicity and I'm taking the risk. So I don't see the purpose in really doing that because it's a diversion from far more important things.
Gabrielle Reilly: And what are the "far more important things" for you? I mean for the next five years what do you want to work on?
Buzz Aldrin: Well let's see, my encouragement for veterans to hand salute so that the public around them can see who our veterans proudly exhibiting their service to the country. That'll pretty much be over hopefully after next February's Super Bowl game. I'm focusing on the development of busy positive opportunities for posttraumatic stress syndrome veterans. They are committing suicide at a rate of about 22 per day. By exposing them to light airplane simulator flying, and in between operating some handheld test of the abilities to hold altitude and heading, followed by actual flight in a light airplane... this will stimulate the people who can't get a job, are very depressed and worried about their future. It'll get their mind off their difficulties and into positive achievements and these are the things that I've found in my own experience with inherited depression. That I still have from time to time. Getting out and doing something that makes me feel good about what I can do. Even if it's a small thing, that this boosts up the morale, the good feeling of people. I think this may help tremendously in reducing the veterans coming back with great changes in their mental attitudes toward themselves, their achievements, their future and their job attainment after they've experienced the very adverse conditions of surface warfare in the Middle East.