News World Buzz Aldrin, second man on moon, recalls 'magnificent desolation'

Buzz Aldrin, second man on moon, recalls ‘magnificent desolation’

Fifty years after their history-making voyage to the moon, Buzz Aldrin recalls the first moments of the Apollo 11 launch being so smooth that he and his two crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins, were unsure precisely when they left the ground.

He remembers the white-knuckle descent to the moon’s dusty surface in the four-legged lunar module Eagle, as Armstrong took manual control of the landing craft to pilot it to a safe touchdown, just seconds from running out of fuel.

And as the second human ever to step on the moon – Armstrong was first down the ladder – Aldrin recounts feeling sure-footed in the one-sixth gravity of the lunar surface while gazing at the “magnificent desolation” around him.

Aldrin says he and his crewmates were so absorbed in doing their jobs that they were oddly disconnected from how momentous the occasion was as it unfolded for hundreds of millions of people on Earth, watching it all on live television.

“I sometimes think the three of us missed ‘the big event’,” Aldrin said during a 50th anniversary gala at the Ronald Reagan Library outside Los Angeles. “While we were out there on the moon, the world was growing closer together, right here.”

Aldrin, now 89 and one of just four living people ever to have walked on the moon, recounted highlights of his Apollo 11 experiences in an interview with an organizer of Saturday’s event, which was closed to the media. A transcript was furnished to Reuters.

It was 50 years ago to the day on Tuesday that Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins were launched into space atop a Saturn 5 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

‘ON OUR WAY’

“We did not know the instant of leaving the ground. We only knew it from the instruments and voice communications which confirmed liftoff,” he recalled. “We sort of looked at each other and thought, ‘We must be on our way.'”

After reaching lunar orbit, leaving Collins behind as pilot of the command module Columbia, Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the moon’s surface in the Eagle. Armstrong ended up piloting the craft to a safe landing after overriding a computer guidance system that was heading it to a field of boulders.

During those tense moments, Aldrin’s voice was heard in the TV broadcast calling out navigation data as Eagle moved downward and forward over the surface to touchdown.

“We knew we were continuing to burn fuel. We knew what we had, then we heard ’30 seconds left.’ If we ran out of fuel, we knew it would be a hard landing. We saw the shadow cast in front of us. That was new, not something we saw in the simulator,” Aldrin recounted.

“I saw dust creating a haze, not particles, but a haze that went out, dust the engine was picking up,” he said.

In the final seconds of descent, Aldrin confirmed an indicator light showing that at least one of the probes dangling from Eagle’s footpads had touched the surface – calling out “Contact light.”

Seconds later came Armstrong’s famed radio announcement to mission control in Houston – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

The relief of the two astronauts was mutual. “Neil remembers we shook hands, and I recall putting my hand on his shoulder and we smiled,” Aldrin said.

Hours later, Armstrong’s words upon becoming the first human to set foot on the moon – “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – were immortalized. As Aldrin recalls, “Neil thought of that. It wasn’t on the checklist.”

Aldrin’s turn came next.

“I then got in position to come down … came down the ladder, and jumped off, being careful not to lock the door behind me,” he said, recounting “it was easy to balance” as he moved about the lunar surface to set up NASA experiments.

To this day, Aldrin added, he stands by his own best known, though somewhat less famous catch phrase from the moon – his impromptu description of the moonscape as a scene of “magnificent desolation.”

“I guess I said that because it was magnificent,” he said. “We had gotten there, and it looked pretty desolate. But it was magnificent desolation. I think Neil remarked the beauty, too.”

(Reuters)

Top Stories

People enjoy hot weather in London

People enjoy the hot weather amongst summer themed sculptures, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain August 12, 2020.

Fourteen new corona virus cases detected out of 3,775 tests

According to the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health 14 new cases of the SARS-CoV-II virus were detected out of a total...

Iraq’s port of Umm Qasr takes precautionary measures after deadly Beirut blast

Following the deadly blast at Beirut's port last week, Iraq is moving to secure its own main port of Umm Qasr from any potential...

Concerns over preserving Lebanon’s cultural heritage

Many historical buildings in Beirut were badly damaged in last week's devastating explosion. Experts worry that much of Lebanon's rich cultural heritage will be lost...

Yellow alert for extremely high temperatures on Thursday

Mainly fine weather on Thursday with yet another yellow alert for extremely high temperatures in effect from 13:00 to 17:00. Temperatures are expected to rise...

Taste

Octopus ‘Kathisto’ (or Octopus braised in Wine)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped fine 1 large octopus, about 2kg (cleaned and kept whole) 3/4 cup dry red wine 1/3 cup...

Homemade lemonade

Ingredients: 1 cup lemon juice 1 cup sugar Method: Thoroughly wash the lemons with soap and warm water. Roll each lemon with the palm of your hand, pressing...

‘Striftaria’ mini cheese pies

Ingredients 1 ½ cup milk 2 tbsps. flour 4 tsps. of butter 3 eggs, slightly beaten + 1 extra with 1 tbs. of milk for spreading 1 pack of...

Mini potato canapes baked on salt

Ingredients Serves: 12 1kg small Cypriot potatoes rock salt, as needed 250g salted butter 300ml full fat cremé frâiche 1 pot cod or salmon roe Method Prep:20min › Cook:35min › Ready in:55min Take...