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June 23rd, 2009
10:36 AM ET

Let's aim for Mars

Buzz Aldrin
Special to CNN

Four decades have passed since the summer of 1969, when Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and I flew America's first lunar landing mission.

The passage of time has not faded either the memory of that summer or the importance of what we achieved, for our mission was about more than just exploring the moon.

On July 20, 1969, Neil and I were peering out the window of our lunar lander, the Eagle, as it descended toward the lunar surface. The ship's computer was steering us toward a field of boulders the size of cars.

That same computer - with less power than today's pocket calculators - was signaling that it was overworked and dangerously overloaded. Our single tank of fuel was nearly empty as we approached the surface, invisible to us, cloaked in a cloud of swirling dust.

Neil took manual control and flew us toward a smoother terrain. Then, as the shadow of our landing gear appeared etched onto the surface in the gloom, a light on our console flashed that contact had been made.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • NASA
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Jeff Schantz

    The future of space exploration is robotic not human. We really don't have the money or technology right now for long term human space flight. Interplanetary deep space is not the same as near earth.

    June 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Larry

    Buzz, we probably know more about Mars than we do the depth of the world's oceans; I'm more for exploring the ocean depths than going to Mars.

    June 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  3. Teresa, OH

    blah blah blah... space/ planet travel is over-rated.

    I would rather we use those billions of dollars needed to feed our hungry and homeless in the US. We could even toss in a few bucks to fix some schools.

    When the country gets back on track financially in say ten years, let's use some of that extra dough for space exploration.

    June 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Michael C. McHugh

    This is a good idea to put together a major expedition to Mars, and not only for all the obvious scientific benefits of studying another planet in person, so to speak. It would also stimulate the economy and create many new jobs, especially in all kinds of high tech industries. Even more, it would provide funding for a wide range of new research and technological developments. I also think we should be devoting a lot more money into new types of energy and propulsion systems that are still mostly theoretical today. Finally, while there is know way of knowing if life ever existed on Mars, it is certainly important to try to find out.

    June 23, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  5. Nick, FL

    we need something to hope for, besides, after creating labor jobs with the reinvestment act maybe we can attract back engineering and technologically based jobs that NASA and a mission to Mars can provide for.

    June 23, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  6. Cindy

    I am with you Buzz I think we still need to be doing space exploration. I think it'd be cool to be able to land on another planet and to actually set foot on it and see what it is truly like with our own eyes and not just guess.

    Cindy..Ga.

    June 23, 2009 at 10:44 am |