‘Magnificent desolation’

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Retired astronaut and space exploration advocate Buzz Aldrin speaks at the SMU Turner Construction Student Forum Tuesday evening. (MICHAEL DANSER/The Daily Campus)

Buzz Aldrin spoke to a full McFarlin Auditorium on Tuesday evening as part of SMU’s Tate Lecture Series. Beginning with a short film documenting the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the Oncor Electric Delivery Lecture captivated audiences with stories about Aldrin’s experiences and messages of inspiration.

Achieving worldwide fame in 1969 for becoming one of the first humans on the moon, Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong, was part of the Apollo 11 mission with NASA. Selected in 1963 to be part of the NASA team, Aldrin devised docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit that are still used today.

Forty years after he landed on the moon, Aldrin still loves to stay on the move. While he still calls himself a fighter pilot, Aldrin jokes the only plane he has to fly was the one on his tie. The American flag cufflinks still adorn his suit and he says he still cherishes the badges from his time spent with Nasa.

Aldrin addressed the issues facing space exploration today through a series of photographs of the past starting with the Wright brothers’ first flight to Aldrin’s first flight at the age of two. Telling the story of how he prepared to travel into space, Aldrin set it from the spirit of the American people that helped fuel the exploration.

Facing a 60 percent chance of successfully landing on the moon, Aldrin and his crew felt they had a 95 percent chance of safely returning home. As Aldrin and Armstrong took off on their own to set foot on the moon, finding a safe landing area became more difficult that anticipated, giving the men only 15 seconds worth of fuel to find a safe place to land.

“Magnificent desolation,” were the first words the Aldrin said upon stepping foot on the moon. Caught up in the moment of reflecting upon all the achievements the United States had made, Aldrin was momentarily struck by the amazement of the human race. But it was planting the flag that Aldrin calls “the proudest moment of his life.”

Upon retiring from NASA, Aldrin has worked in strengthening the nation’s continued leadership in space exploration through Starcraft Boosters Inc., a rocket design company Aldrin himself founded.

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