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Aldrin recounts successes and challenges of historic space journey
by Staff Writers
Starkville MS (SPX) Feb 12, 2016

Retired NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the first two men to walk on the moon, spoke in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium at Mississippi State University Tuesday [Feb. 9] as part of the Student Association-sponsored Global Lecture Series. Image courtesy Beth Wynn. For a larger version of this image please go here.

History remembers the two American astronauts who first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. One of those astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, told a crowd in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium at Mississippi State on Tuesday [Feb. 9] the team that made the Apollo 11 spacecraft's iconic moon landing possible numbered close to 400,000.

Aldrin, donning red, white and blue socks he proudly displayed on stage, recounted his time with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the MSU Student Association-sponsored Global Lecture Series. While he reminisced about his moon walk with mission commander Neil Armstrong, Aldrin also highlighted the power of teams working together to achieve greatness.

"When we work together, we can achieve the impossible," Aldrin said. "The true value of the Apollo program is the amazing story of teamwork that overcame many obstacles to make it to the moon."

Aldrin, 86, is a bestselling author of both biographies and children's books who continues to advocate for broadening the horizons of space exploration. A graduate of West Point Military Academy, he served as an Air Force fighter pilot in the Korean War where he flew 66 combat missions and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross.

After earning a doctorate of science in aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined NASA in 1963 amid the nation's space race with the Soviet Union. As part of the Gemini program, Aldrin developed an underwater training program to simulate zero-gravity and eventually completed a 5.5-hour spacewalk. The Manned Orbital Rendezvous system he developed aided the Apollo mission's success.

He and his other Apollo 11 crew members received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011.

Aldrin, who calls himself a global space statesman, envisions space travel to Mars and is working with Purdue University and others to develop a transportation system-called Cycling Pathways-that would accommodate permanent settlements there. Venturing into space, he said, improves the lives of everyone on Earth through scientific and technological advances. And just as he wanted to be a part of tackling the once-deemed impossible moon mission, he wants to be a pioneer for space exploration's next frontier.

"I won't be here for much of it, but I want to do everything I can to lay the groundwork," he said. "Humanity needs to explore space to push beyond their limits."

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