Buzz Aldrin carries out experiments on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Image Credit: NASA
Memorabilia from the Apollo 11 mission, signed photos and an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch are among the lots to be auctioned by Buzz Aldrin at a special charity gala event on Saturday 15 July at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
As the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings in 2019 draws near, Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation is embarking on a three-year campaign to raise funds to create interactive educational tools for schools – such as a 25x25ft. vinyl Giant Destination Mars Map.
Buzz wants to inspire students to embark on careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths, thus creating the next generation of space pioneers that could go to Mars.
Close to where his spacecraft left for the Moon 48 years ago, Aldrin will sell off Apollo 11 memorabilia from his personal collection in front of an audience of astronauts, the space community and celebrities.
Only 400 tickets are available for the event, which includes dinner while sitting underneath a 363-foot-tall Saturn V rocket created for the Apollo missions.
This will be followed by entertainment in the lunar theatre, where the Space Shuttle launch countdowns took place.
Standard tickets cost US$1,000 (UK£780) or US$750 (UK£585) for students or teachers, while a premium ticket for US$1,200 (UK£935) includes a photoshoot with Buzz Aldrin underneath the Apollo Saturn V rocket itself.
Stretch it to US$1,800 (UK£1,400) and attendees will get the chance to have VIP drinks and a private breakfast the following morning with Buzz Aldrin and other NASA astronauts.
Aldrin has been actively pushing for a manned mission to Mars since returning from the Moon 48 years ago, developing his theory of ‘cycling pathways’ to Mars.
His plan, outlined in 2015’s Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, is to have one or two Earth-Mars ‘Cyclers’ taking astronauts on a three-month trip every two or four years, with crews transported by the Earth Mars Cycler on a single launch, refuelling in Earth orbit.
Beyond that, Buzz envisages deep space cruisers that would regularly transfer explorers and settlers first between Earth and the Moon, then between Earth and Mars via an orbit of the Phobos moon.
Aldrin’s skill at calculating orbital rendezvous trajectories of two spacecraft in orbit, and translating them into straightforward flight plans, was a major reason why he flew on the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 missions.
NASA still uses his techniques today.
“As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing, it’s my ultimate ambition to lay the foundations that will inspire and support the next generation to become space pioneers,” says Buzz, who believes that we can land people on Mars by 2040.
However, he’s actually aiming for 2035, which would be precisely 66 years after Apollo 11’s touchdown on the lunar surface.
That would be fitting since Apollo 11 happened 66 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903.
“To do this we need to provide our future space pioneers with the right educational tools and motivation, and we need the funding to do so,” says Buzz.
“By attending the event, guests are invited to play a historical role in the advancement of Mars exploration by sharing our vision and supporting our ambitions.”
Also due to be auctioned off at the event are a holiday in the Maldives at Buzz’s favourite place to scuba dive (which he describes as the closest thing to being in space), and the chance to be part of a unique expedition to Mount Everest Base Camp to host the world’s highest dinner party.
The dress code for the gala event is ‘intergalactic chic’, which Buzz has some experience in; at the gala event he will auction off a silver bomber jacket designed by Nick Graham, which the astronaut wore on his catwalk debut at New York Fashion Week in January.
“Humanity needs to explore, to push beyond current limits, just like we did in 1969,” says Buzz.
“I want to do everything I can to lay the groundwork.”