Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Last week, Aldrin introduced #Apollo45, a social media campaign and new YouTube channel, dedicated to honoring the 45th anniversary of that incredible mission. Aldrin held an AMA on Reddit last week, answering questions on a variety of topics, and giving his opinion of people who believe the landing was a hoax, his biggest regret from the mission, and advice for hopeful future astronauts.
Aldrin also took the opportunity to put rumors to rest that the Apollo 11 crew spotted a UFO in space. When asked if he believed in aliens, Aldrin quoted Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary observations require extraordinary evidence.” He included a story that UFO-enthusiasts have been clinging to for years:
“On Apollo 11 in route to the Moon, I observed a light out the window that appeared to be moving alongside us. There were many explanations of what that could be, other than another spacecraft from another country or another world - it was either the rocket we had separated from, or the 4 panels that moved away when we extracted the lander from the rocket and we were nose to nose with the two spacecraft. So in the close vicinity, moving away, were 4 panels. And I feel absolutely convinced that we were looking at the sun reflected off of one of these panels. Which one? I don't know. So technically, the definition could be “unidentified.”"
He went on to explain that statistically, life is certain to exist elsewhere in the Universe and could very well be in the Milky Way, but he does not believe for a second that what they saw on the way to the moon was alien.
Aldrin also lamented that the enthusiasm that was present for NASA to push boundaries and go to the moon is absent from America today. In the late 1960s, NASA represented about 4% of the federal budget. Today, it sits closer to 0.5%. Renewed public interest will be vital for human exploration of Mars and beyond, which is the next frontier of space travel. When asked if humans should return to the moon, Aldrin suggested that might be better suited for other countries that haven’t done it yet (mostly for the sake of saying they've done it), while the US should help others but continue looking forward.
He also included this advice for the astronauts who will become the first to visit Mars and set up a permanent colony:
"Realize that you are perhaps the most ambitious, the most historical pioneers that the earth has produced since its beginning. And you are given a great honor in spending the rest of your lives pioneering for mankind. AND HAVE FUN!"
If you have any memories, stories, or photos to share about Apollo 11, be sure to use #Apollo45 on social media and subscribe to the YouTube channel to keep up to date with all of the festivities.