Flashback: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin recounts first moon landing in 2007 speech at Elon
In 2007, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin discussed the Apollo 11 mission that first put humans on the moon at Elon's McCrary Theatre. Watch a video of his remarks in this post.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon.
Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which also included astronaut Michael Collins. And as the world celebrates the milestone, Elon is remembering its connection to the first moonwalk.
In September 2007, Aldrin shared his memories of that historic journey to the moon with students and the community at Elon's McCrary Theatre. Aldrin discussed everything from the moment the shuttle touched down to his inspiration for becoming an astronaut.
"Some of you may recollect that, during my childhood, growing up in the 1930s, the word 'astronaut' didn't even exist. Although, you might say I was intimately connected to the word 'moon,'" he said. "Not because it was a destination I ever thought I would journey to, but because it was my mother's maiden name: Marion Moon."
Aldrin described the journey into space and the dangers that came with it. The crew was told it had a 60 percent chance of safely landing on the moon's surface, but Aldrin said he, Armstrong and Collins were never concerned. Not even in the face of computer overloads, dangerous terrain and 15 seconds of remaining fuel at the time of touchdown, did the crew take its eyes off the mission.
"We were confident in the rockets, our spacecraft and the whole NASA team," Aldrin said. "We were ready and willing to take the risk, and that was the spirit of Apollo."
Aldrin also described the moment he stepped out of the spacecraft and onto the moon's surface. He recalled, what he termed, "magnificent desolation."
"We were witness to the utter desolation of the moon with its lifeless, windless, baron landscape," he said. "Only the harsh shadows moved with the sun, and above the moon's horizon, a shining, blue marble of color in the black velvet of space. The living Earth with all her inhabitants."
Aldrin and other members of the Apollo 11 crew received the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon their return to Earth in 1969. In 2011, the crew members were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
At Elon, Aldrin said the Apollo 11 crew's efforts were just the beginning of what the world could accomplish, and he left the crowd with these words: "My wish is for each of you and your students to find the courage to risk the abyss, to set sail for the edge and find instead new worlds beyond imagination to dare to dream and reach for the stars."