Four Moon Walkers Remain as America Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin steps down the ladder to the surface of the moon. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Fifty years ago today, three astronauts set off on the journey of a lifetime to make the first human landing on the moon. Twelve men would walk on the lunar surface, collect rocks and soil samples, and drive electric cars before the Apollo program ended in December 1972.

As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic first lunar landing on July 20, four of the 12 men who walked on the surface and eight others who flew around the moon are alive to celebrate it.

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NASA Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Historic Moon Landing with Live TV Broadcast, Events

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin steps down the ladder to the surface of the moon. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon mission and look to the future of exploration on the Moon and Mars with a live, two-hour television broadcast Friday, July 19, and partner-led events taking place across the country from July 16 through July 20.

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Charlie Brown or Snoopy: America’s Future in Space Hangs in the Balance

As the Apollo 10 crew walks along a corridor on the way to Launch Complex 39B, mission commander Thomas P. Stafford pats the nose of Snoopy, the mission’s mascot, held by Jamye Flowers, astronaut Gordon Coopers’ secretary. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 10, the final mission before the first manned landing on the moon by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.

During the 8-day voyage, Tom Stafford and Eugene Cernan took the lunar module (LM) to within 47,400 feet (14.4 km) of the lunar surface before rendezvousing with the command service module (CSM) piloted by John Young.

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Richard Branson Wants to Fly on SpaceShipTwo on Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Richard Branson with the pilots of SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson says he wants to fly to space aboard SpaceShipTwo as America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, Agence France Presse (AFP) reports.

“My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, that’s what we’re working on,” the head of the Virgin group said on the sidelines of an event to honor Virgin Galactic at the Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Whether a SpaceShipTwo flight on the anniversary of the moon landing will be seen as a fitting tribute to America’s greatest achievement in space or merely a giant PR distraction is uncertain.

Whether they will be able to make that date is equally unclear. SpaceShipTwo Unity is still undergoing flight tests at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Branson told AFP the next flight is set for Feb. 20, weather permitting.) And practically all of his previous predictions for the start of commercial flights have been proven wrong over the past 14.5 years.

Branson plans to be on Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight, which will take place from Spaceport America in New Mexico. His son, Sam, and other passengers are set to be aboard the flights. Perhaps he will take Apollo 11 moon walker Buzz Aldrin, who just turned 89, along with him.

Branson told AFP that Virgin Galactic costs $35 million per month or $420 million per year to operate. He previously estimated he has spent $1 billion to $1.3 billion on the SpaceShipTwo program since it was announced in 2004.

Virgin recently laid off about 40 employees from Virgin Galactic and its sister company, The Spaceship Company.











NASA, Buzz Aldrin Get Shout Out During State of the Union Speech

Buzz Aldrin salutes during the 2019 State of the Union address. (Credit: U.S. Senate Photo Studio/John Shinkle)

With Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin in attendance, President Donald Trump gave a shout out to NASA during the annual State of the Union address.

“In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets,” he said.

NASA’s commercial crew program is set to begin transporting astronauts to the International Space Station later this year. Today, NASA released the following schedule for flight tests of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Test Flight Planning Dates:

SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): March 2, 2019
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): NET April 2019
Boeing Pad Abort Test: NET May 2019
SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: June 2019
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): July 2019
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): NET August 2019











U.S. Mint Unveils Coins Commemorating Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary

Credit: U.S. Mint

WASHINGTON (U.S. Mint PR) – The United States Mint (Mint) opened sales for the 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program on January 24 at noon EST.

This unique four-coin program includes the Mint’s first reeded five-ounce proof silver dollar, a $5 gold coin, a silver dollar, and a half dollar. All coins are curved. This year, the Mint increased the silver content of its commemorative standard silver dollars to 99.9 percent silver. In the past, these coins were 90/10 silver—90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

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U.S. Mint to Issue Apollo 11 Commemorative Coins Next Month

Credit: U.S. Mint

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
Commemorative Coin Program
(Courtesy: U.S. Mint)

Background

The world eagerly watched on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr. took mankind’s first steps on the Moon. This unprecedented engineering, scientific, and political achievement was the culmination of the efforts of an estimated 400,000 Americans and secured our Nation’s leadership in space for generations to come. The Apollo 11 crew—Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins—safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, fulfilling the national goal set in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Nearly half a century later, the United States is the only country ever to have attempted and succeeded in landing humans on a celestial body other than Earth and safely returning them home.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon, Public Law 114-282 authorizes a four-coin program: a curved $5 gold coin, a curved $1 silver coin, a curved half-dollar clad coin, and a curved 5 ounce $1 silver proof coin.
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NASA’s Lunar Plans Panned by National Space Council’s Users Group

The Lunar Gateway formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

SpaceNews reports that NASA’s plan to put a lunar gateway in orbit around the moon and get astronauts down to the surface in 2028 took quite a pounding from some members of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group during the body’s first meeting last week.

“Personally, I think 2028 for humans on the moon, that’s 10 years from now. It just seems like it’s so far off,” said former astronaut Eileen Collins. “We can do it sooner.”
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Mars Virtual Reality Software Wins NASA Award

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, right, and Erisa Hines of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, try out the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset during a preview of “Destination: Mars” at Kennedy Space Center visitor complex in Florida. Based on OnSight, a tool created by JPL, “Destination: Mars” lets guests experience Mars with holographic versions of Aldrin and Hines as guides. (Credits: NASA/Charles Babir)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — A mixed-reality software that allows scientists and engineers to virtually walk on Mars recently received NASA’s 2018 Software of the Year Award.

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NASA Helps Bring Story of Historic Moon Landing, Neil Armstrong to Younger Generations

(Left) The crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, led by mission Commander Neil Armstrong, leave the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building during the prelaunch countdown on July 16, 1969. Armstrong is followed by crewmates Michael Collins, command module pilot, and Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot. (Right) A still image from the 2018 Universal Pictures movie First Man, filmed at the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, depicts this scene with actor Ryan Gosling portraying Armstrong. (Credits: NASA/Universal Pictures)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The first steps on the Moon – fueled by a national will to excel – marked a turning point for America and humanity as a whole. At the core of that historic moment, however, lay the story of one man whose strength, perseverance and personal conviction brought him to the moment his foot would leave the indelible and iconic imprint on the lunar surface.

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“First Man” Biopic of Neil Armstrong Getting Rave Reviews

Entertainment Weekly reports the Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man” has received rave reviews following its debut at the Venice Film Festival.

“This is a strikingly intelligent treatment of a defining moment for America that broadens the tonal range of Chazelle, clearly a versatile talent, after Whiplash and La La Land,” writes The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney, further praising the film’s “refusal to engage in the expected jingoistic self-celebration” that celebrating Armstrong’s first-man-on-the-moon milestone could have registered.

“Gosling downplays his natural charisma here to portray a man simply intent on doing a job, approaching it with the utmost seriousness and without ego. Armstrong shows zero willingness to consider what he’s doing in any self-aggrandizing historical context, his taciturn demeanor proving frustrating to the press, who want uplifting soundbites. That makes the characterization almost antithetical to the standard Hollywood conception of a historically significant figure of this type,” he continues. “Instead, Gosling pulls you in on an intimate level, whether Neil is tackling life-or-death situations mid-mission or simply staring at the moon from his backyard, as if the distant image somehow holds the secret to a successful landing. It’s a subdued, almost self-effacing performance that nonetheless provides the drama with a commanding center.”

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw similarly heralds Gosling’s work, calling his lead performance one of “muscular intelligence and decency,” while pegging the film as a “mostly soaring” effort overall, and Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman similarly heralds the project as “turbulently spectacular” and a “docudrama in the most authentic and exciting sense of the word” through Chazelle’s “audacious strategy…. to make a movie so revelatory in its realism, so gritty in its physicality, that it becomes a drama of thrillingly hellbent danger and obsession.”

“First Man” is in U.S. theaters on Oct. 12.











Buzz Aldrin Skips Apollo Celebration Gala

Locked in a bitter legal dispute with his own children, Buzz Aldrin was a no-show at a gala event on Saturday designed to raise money for the ShareSpace Foundation he created and to celebrate his signature achievement.

Aldrin skipped the black-tie Apollo Celebration Gala held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The event kicked off a year-long countdown to the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, which was accomplished by Aldrin and Neil Armstrong aboard Apollo 11’s lunar lander, Eagle, on July 20, 1969.

Aldrin is involved in a dispute over control of the foundation with two of his children, Andrew and Jan Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin has sued his children and his former business manager, Christina Korp,  alleging misappropriation of funds, misuse of credit cards and slandering him with claims of dementia.

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New Statement About Buzz Aldrin from Andrew and Jan Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag during a ceremony at Spaceport America in New Mexico in 2010. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Statement by Andrew Aldrin and Jan Aldrin

It has been our wish from the beginning, to avoid public discussion of our efforts to try to protect our father and his reputation from the debilitating effects of his worsening condition. We sought confidentiality through a motion with the court which held both parties responsible for maintaining confidentiality pending a formal judgement on the motion.

Legal counsel representing our father chose to defy the motion and make this effort part of a public spectacle designed to stir undue sympathy and support for the ridiculous lawsuit that they have brought on Dad’s behalf.

We have refrained from discussing the lawsuit publicly other than to debunk specific aspects of it that could hinder the ongoing operation of the Foundation. The time has come to recognize where the elder exploitation is truly occurring and address the flawed foundation of the lawsuit.

Let it be clear that every one of these allegations are products of the increased confusion and memory loss that Dad has demonstrated in recent years. Every one of them can be easily refuted by witnesses, bank and corporate records and, if necessary, we will prove this in court. But the responsibility for this outrageous lawsuit rests with those would seek to leverage his condition for their own agenda.

Although Dad’s current handlers want to spin this as “Buzz vs Family,” that could not be farther from the truth. We will not attack our father on any basis, for any reason. We are committed to protecting him, his reputation and his legacy. Our work together on this foundation is testament to that. We will not allow opportunistic agents who see an opportunity to grab the spotlight break our family apart.

We dearly love and respect our father and want him to return to us so we can continue our mission together to advance his dreams and legacy within the space program today, and with generations of explorers to come.











Aldrin Family Statement on Buzz’s Lawsuit

NASA then- Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin at Spaceport America in 2010. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

“We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the unjustified lawsuit that has been brought against us individually and against the Foundation that we have built together as a family to carry on Dad’s legacy for generations to come. When we established the current structure several years ago, it was done so at Buzz’s request and with his full support. If nothing else, our family is resilient and our ability to work together to solve problems and accomplish great things is strong. We love and respect our father very much and remain hopeful that we can rise above this situation and recover the strong relationship that built this foundation in the first place. We will not be commenting further on the lawsuit and ask your understanding and respect for our family privacy at this extremely difficult time.”

— Andrew and Janice Aldrin











Buzz Aldrin Sues His Children

Buzz Aldrin salutes during the singing of the National Anthem at the Spaceport America runway dedication. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Buzz Aldrin has sued one of his sons, his daughter and the secretary of his foundation alleging misappropriations of funds and slander.

The lawsuit — filed on June 7 in Brevard County, Florida — alleges that Andrew Aldrin improperly transferred $475,000 from Buzz’s account at Morgan Stanley into his own bank account in 2017 and 2018 without the knowledge of the Apollo 11 astronaut.

The suit also alleges that Andrew Aldrin and Christina Korp, who is secretary of the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, have each “made monthly business and personal charges of up to $60,000 under the guise of trustee, power of attorney, and/or employee, and without the Plaintiff’s consent and/or knowledge or against Plaintiff’s expressed wishes authorized payment of such bills through Plaintiff’s personal checking account/funds.”

Buzz Aldrin also alleged that Andrew Aldrin and Korp “have effective established a de facto guardianship over Plaintiff” without a legal basis to have rights to his credit cards, bank accounts, trust money and other property.

“In their acting capacities and individually, Defendant Andrew Aldrin and Defendant Christina Korp, have assumed control and access to Plaintiff’s personal credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia, space artifacts, social media accounts and all elements of the Buzz Aldrin brand,” the suit alleged.

The lawsuits said that Buzz Aldrin invoked a revocable trust agreement appointing his son Andrew as trustee. Andrew also has power of attorney and serves as president of Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, and the Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology.

The lawsuit also alleged Andrew Aldrin and Korp “have been for the past number of years been slandering Plaintiff in public and/or to other individuals or small groups by stating Plaintiff has dementia and Alzheimer’s. Defendants have used this tactic to gain further control over Plaintiff’s personal relationships business contacts, and assets.”

The suit also alleged that Andrew Aldrin, Korp and Buzz’s daughter, Janice Aldrin, have forbidden the retired astronaut from marrying and “deliberately have undermined bullied and defamed all of Plaintiff’s personal romantic relationships.”

The lawsuit says that Buzz revoked all powers of attorney and fired Korp from her position. However, Andrew Aldrin ignored the plaintiff’s request and Korp continues to be employed.

The legal action also names as defendants a number of organizations the astronaut established to represent him, including the Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, the Aldrin Space Institute and others.