Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin complains about current U.S. lunar
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[July 20, 2019]
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When President
Donald Trump asked Buzz Aldrin, the second human ever to walk on the
moon, what he thought about the United States' current ability to
operate in space 50 years after the Apollo 11 mission, the ex-astronaut
had a ready response.
"Actually, I've been a little disappointed over the last 10 or 15
years," Aldrin told Trump on Friday.
With the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing being celebrated
this week, Trump brought into the Oval Office the surviving astronauts
from that mission, Aldrin and Michael Collins, and relatives of the late
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
Trump, a strong supporter of a U.S. mission to Mars, quizzed Aldrin and
the others, including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in a way that
suggested he would like to skip a moon mission on the way to embarking
to Mars. He questioned whether the United States should use the moon as
a jumping-off point to Mars, which is the current plan, or simply go
straight to the red planet.
Aldrin said the U.S. space program achieved so much 50 years ago, but
that the recent era had been more troublesome, disappointing him.
Aldrin said the United States' current plan for the next moonshot does
not allow for significant maneuverability of the spacecraft while in
Trump turned to Bridenstine and asked him, "How do you feel about that,
“We’re working on it, as a matter of fact,” said Bridenstine.
He told Trump the Orion capsule being developed with the aim of getting
to the moon in five years would attach to a small module in orbit around
the moon, acting as a small space station.
[to top of second column]
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin smiles as U.S. President Donald Trump
honors him, Michael Collins and their family members during an
Apollo 11 moon landing 50th anniversary commemoration in the Oval
Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2019.
Trump asked Bridenstine to take account of Aldrin's concerns.
"Well, I'd like to have you also listen to the other side," Trump
told him. "Because some people would like to do it a different way.
So you'll listen to Buzz and some of the other people."
"Yes, sir," Bridenstine said.
Trump asked Collins his opinion on whether to go to the moon first
or just go straight to Mars. Collins, 88 and gripping Trump's desk
for balance, had a ready reply: "Mars direct."
"It seems to me Mars direct, who knows better than these people?"
Said Aldrin: "You're impatient."
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler)\
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