This week, the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue set a couple of records by hosting an astronaut and a former Dancing with the Stars contestant in its sanctuary. The distinguished guest, Buzz Aldrin, was interviewed by Christina Korp, his Mission Control Director, about the memoir he co-authored with Ken Abraham. No Dream is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon covers his space flights, but also shares a lot of information about his early life.
There’s a lot of advice one can take from Aldrin, who landed on the moon in 1969. For starters, as he puts it, “Failure is an option.” He was rejected each time he applied to be a Rhodes Scholar (twice). He was also denied on his first application to NASA. Even after getting accepted into NASA, he was on the backup crew on at least a couple of occasions, which he likened to getting a “dead end assignment.”
Still, Aldrin found many opportunities to see the humorous side of the events in his life. It carried over to his successes, such as the Gemini 12 orbiting flight in 1966. He recounted that he had been curious about a lever on the camera during his space walk. He pulled the lever and ended up with what became the first space “selfie.” He also made light of the 1969 moon landing that occurred on his famous Apollo 11 Mission with Neil Armstrong. “I’m going to partially close the hatch, making sure not to lock it on my way out,” he told his colleague and ground control.
Another major lesson in the book is to help others. It’s a mission that the eighty-six year old still works tirelessly to achieve. Aldrin travels all over the world with Ms. Korp to share stories about his space missions and encourage young people to study science. He often sports a shirt with the words, “Get your ass to Mars!” The future of space exploration is a topic that he is always keen to discuss. It was the primary topic of the closing Q&A, in which both serious moments and jokes ensued.
We may look to Mars, but the celebrated former astronaut believes in maintaining a respect for our planet’s history and past. “Once we get enough people there to set up a colony, we’ve got to go back to Earth and see what happened to it,” he cautioned.
Aldrin jokingly suggested Venus as another destination. “I’ve been planning some nice missions into the future,” he remarked. “I’m looking for female astronauts because men are from Mars!”
Buzz Aldrin attributes the decline of the United States space programs to public apathy and a significant reduction in monetary support by the government. No matter who occupies the White House, he intends to reach out for a visit and present his case for the expansion of space exploration. Space missions are not only important for establishing colonies, but also to cultivate more positive and tranquil international exchanges. “[In 1969], we came for peace for all mankind,” Aldrin said, referencing the plaque left on the moon.
This article was originally published on Blogcritics.org with the same title.