Transcript from an interview with Buzz Aldrin

Below is an edited transcript from Reading Rockets' interview with Buzz Aldrin. The transcript is divided into the following clips:

Destined to fly

Well, there's absolutely no doubt that from the first memories that I have of an airplane ride at age two that I was impressed with aviation, airplanes and the heritage, in a way, that my father's career had established. It just took a little time for me to absorb it all, but it's really what motivated me to, I guess, feel a security that that's where I would end up. So I didn't have to pave my way into that. I just knew that's what I would do, it was a question of how that would happen. And being a teenager during World War II convinced me that the military was probably the best way to learn how to fly, not just go out to the local little pasture field.

So that moved me toward — there was no Air Force Academy then — but to go toward West Point and from there into the Air Force because at that time when it really became obvious that that was the path they were going to take people from West Point and Annapolis, the Naval Academy, and bring them into the Air Force. So it was a way of being able to do that.

Magnificent desolation

I think I'd heard the word magnificent. I can't say that that just popped into my mind. It's in the radio transmissions from Neil. I probably said beautiful, beautiful — and then he said magnificent, isn't it? And that's when maybe I responded with magnificent desolation. Now, however that came about, the meaning that was really behind that without being put into words at the time was humanity's progress to reach a point where we leave the earth and we go to that object in the sky called the moon and we walk around on it.

I mean, that's a tribute to the progress, to the achievements of the human race, and it's so magnificent that we were a part of that, But looking out at the lifelessness of the scenery doing the magnificence of being there it was at such a lifeless, desolate place that I couldn't imagine any place more typical of desolation with just gray, shades of gray and a black sky and a brilliant sun and no atmosphere. And these things are in your head and radiation from the sun. It's just not a very hospitable place. And, the most important — it hasn't changed in hundreds of thousands of years. What we're looking at just a little bit more dust has accumulated. But it's been that same way for such a long time.

The ShareSpace Foundation

The term share space instead of space share — share space really means the sharing of space to those that are not accustomed to space. And that means people who have been in space talking about it to other people. And more recently the reunions of particular missions that are memorable to people using those to call attention to the benefits of the past exploration and what we hope to get out of the future, and I term that lunar renaissance. And the second is to share space among the people that can't really afford the money that it takes, and that's through a lottery type opportunity. It's not gambling, but it's an investment and Share Space awards of experiences that are non-transferable can be made available. And that's yet to come — that's in a couple years.

The third that is sort of under way now, the third example or the third project, is in education. How can space be used to enhance the needs of our education now in science, technology, engineering and math? Primarily, this is not through a different curricula, but it's through the accountability of a science education ambassador who represents the parents who have children in K-12 — Kindergarten through high school — within a particular area that he's familiar with, his political district. And he or she is like a retired teacher, and many others and they work together, compare progress to assure that the policies that have been established in a state or in a nation and whatever is needed for the better education of the children or the parents is carried out and represents in a way being an ambassador for all those parents.

I don't know if that's gonna work or not but it sounds like a very noble idea. So I'm gonna work to see if we can make that nation-wide — solve some of our education shortcomings.

Look to the stars

I had been involved in a first autobiography thinking about a second autobiography. When are we gonna do it? We put this into a movie that has the drama, and then we'll fill in the details later in a book. I favored that initially but I was overruled, and we wrote the book first. And now we're looking for maybe a movie to help spread the word about the details that are in the book. But while we're doing this, it appeared to an individual of great artistic ability who had done quite a few children's books that my story would make a wonderful children's book. So we got together and wrote Reaching for the Moon which was the first book primarily about me from the age of moving into a house, growing up in a house and staying in that same house until I went away to school and all the things that I did.

And really what it I hope accomplished — and this was the purpose — was to take an historical figure of some celebrity status, that people don't get to know, and then to bring that person down from the pedestal into an ordinary, young person growing up making the decisions and giving a familiarity to the young people who would be reading the story of the evolution of a person's life. Successful, very successful up to the point of reaching that wonderful objective of landing on the moon and what that meant and how that fit into things. And having written that story, it was sort of selfish because that was just about me. Why, the artist and I felt that now let's take something and look at all the people who contributed in their different ways from the very beginnings of looking at the stars and Look to the Stars and what has that been able to accomplish from the first people that started looking at the stars — the astronomers. And then the people who began advancing technology into flying airplanes, flying across the ocean, flying supersonic and then rocket travel and rocket travel going to the moon and then the future of potential rocket travel and spacecraft going to other objects like Mars.

And of course, in the back of my mind was the fact that we will look to the stars, but some day we will travel to the stars. That's not in this book but maybe that's the next one that's obviously science fiction or technology projection.

"I'm wondering what to read next." — Matilda, Roald Dahl