The buzz is still alive for this spaceman

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Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, recently sat down with Malibu High School student Sam Rubinroit to discuss his life experiences and his role in the new animated film, “Fly Me to the Moon.”

By Sam Rubinroit / Special to The Malibu Times

The son of an Air Force colonel, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. was born to fly. After graduating third in his class at West Point, Aldrin joined the Air Force during the Korean War as a jet fighter pilot. After flying 66 combat missions, he attended MIT, but returned to the Air Force, where he was selected in 1963 to be part of the third group of NASA astronauts. Because of the combination of skills as both an engineer and a pilot, Aldrin became only the second man to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

But it was not all glory for Aldrin. Returning home after the mission, he was thrust into the spotlight and became an instant celebrity. Finding his fame a burden too difficult to shoulder, he suffered from bouts of alcoholism and clinical depression and retired from NASA in 1972.

Despite the problems, Aldrin has had an amazing entertainment career. He has given his voice to his cartoon character on the Simpsons, had the Buzz Lightyear toy named after him, and appeared in numerous films and television shows, earning himself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Aldrin’s most recent role is in the new animated 3-D film, “Fly Me to the Moon,” the story of three house flies that hitch a ride aboard the Apollo 11 shuttle alongside Aldrin. The film stars Nicolette Sheridan, Tim Curry, Kelly Ripa and Christopher Lloyd. It is the first movie shot originally and completely in 3-D.

Speaking of Aldrin, Sheridan said that “every kid dreams about going to the moon, I think, and most adults do too.” Yet, to this day, Aldrin is one of only 12 people to ever walk on the moon’s surface.

TMT: How did your life change after walking on the moon?

Aldrin: Not so much by the flight itself. I think people had gone there before, we understood what was going to happen, and it didn’t really have that big of an impact. But then becoming a celebrity and having free time with something that was a little difficult for me to manage. And I had to deal with some personal problems and putting my life back together and getting it in a very efficient, dedicated, patient, operating way. And that’s the way I am today.

What do you think will keep us from creating the same problems in space that we have on Earth?

Well, we have enough space problems [trying to] get there to be worried about duplicating or not duplicating problems here. We’re going to pick people to go into space very, very carefully, and I’m not sure everybody that’s on the Earth [will get to go]. Somebody gets to pick who they are, they just happen to appear and then they begin to develop into good guys or bad guys. Hopefully we can screen out the bad guys and carefully select those who will become colonists, let’s say the first settlers on Mars. I don’t think we’re going to establish colonies on the moon particularly, unless there are workers who are accomplishing something that is turning a profit. The moon is not that great a place to set up housekeeping. But Mars is a settlement off Earth that we have to decide if we are going to take advantage of.

Do you think there is life on other planets outside of Earth?

I think there most likely is. I have no firm belief. They don’t have the evidence. We might be getting some kind of basic indication of the inhabitability of the surface of Mars, or life that existed in the past, or maybe small remnants of it today. Something happened to Mars, which caused its atmosphere to dissipate and get a good bit cooler, and for water to evaporate to be really, except for the north and south poles, underground.

It has been reported that you saw a UFO aboard Apollo 11. What do you believe it was?

It was one of the four panels that had separated from the rocket as we turned around and docked with the lunar module to move it away. It was not a UFO, it was not an alien, it was not Russian and it was not some secret thing of ours. People want to jump to bizarre conclusions, and I feel sorry for people who get caught up in supporting people who are only looking for attention. They want to predict disaster or predict something very bizarre like a conspiracy cover-up. But those things just aren’t happening.

How important is it to get the younger generations interested in space exploration and the Apollo missions?

I’m glad that other people decided to mix the wonderful technology of three-dimensional, high-definition animation, where all of those technologies come forward in a marvelous way and then to be able to meld together historical events without deviating or trying to change the beautiful family type relationship [of the flies in the picture].

What’s it like seeing yourself in 3-D for this movie?

I’m not sure it made all that much difference because I’ve seen other people walking toward me and saying things. It’s when you have some rapid motion and movement and depth differences that you appreciate the great technology that comes from three-dimensional stereo viewing and such.