Random Rants, by Thomas Andrew Olson

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I expect more from my Legends

I think this story is pathetic.

It seems like the "First Man to Walk on the Moon" has lived in a cave all these years. He has actively shunned publicity, preferring to live in relative obscurity in his native Ohio, where he lectures at university. He's trotted out by NASA every five years for the obligatory "anniversary of the moon landing" speech. He came out of hiding a couple of years back, commenting on the Columbia disaster, and he's made a public comment or two concerning upcoming policy initiatives; but that's a piss poor public record for someone who did something that no one else in all of human history has done, or, for that matter, ever will do. Only one human being could be the first to walk on a planet other than the one that bore and nurtured us, and that man will forever be Neil Armstrong.

He could have done so much more to promote space to young people, be a spokesman for the alt.space community, encourage science and engineering education, kept the public engaged and excited about the promise of the future. "The First Man On the Moon" is a permanent door-opener. Instead, he let the "Second Man on the Moon", his partner Buzz Aldrin, carry his water all these years.

At the last International Space Development Conference, many keynote speakers prefaced their remarks with the expression "...when Buzz Aldrin and his associate set foot on the Moon..." . They said it that way to honor Buzz for his tireless contributions to the space community all these years, and as a slam at Neil for sitting on the sidelines.

But no, he'd rather sue his barber for selling his cut hair to a collector. Well, what did he expect? He hasn't contributed much else.

We complain about NASA's failed policies today, but the seeds of those policies were sown back in 1967, when the crew decisions were made for the Apollo flights. The "First Man on the Moon" should have been a damn good pilot, to be sure, but NASA should have also realized they would need someone dynamic and inspirational, for reasons of PR and posterity. Buzz Aldrin has proven, time and again, that he always had the whole package.

I never thought I'd see myself type this, but on 20 July 1969, the wrong man stepped out of the LEM first.

"Buzz Aldrin's associate" says it all.

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