Buzz Aldrin outlines 2010 missions

By Alastair Bull

The second man to walk on the moon has two new missions for 2010: convincing United States President Barack Obama to say "yes we can" to a programme aimed at manned flights to Mars, and out-dancing some fellow American celebrities.

Buzz Aldrin is in New Zealand to speak at Planet 2010, a conference in Auckland highlighting new communications technology run by the Telecommunications Industry Group.

The sprightly 80-year-old told a group of communications industry insiders about flying fighter planes in the Korean War, his thesis on spacecraft rendezvous in the early 1960s and then his effort as part of the US space programme, culminating in his trip to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins in 1969.

The space programme to the moon and further afield was abandoned in the early 1970s but Aldrin is keen for it to be resurrected.

"We are working towards a space summit with the President on April 15 in Florida," Aldrin said.

"I hope to participate and help his people and work out compromises between the administration and congress so that Nasa can chart a wondrous course of flexible research in the next 10 years towards the 50th anniversary of our landing.

"We could then fulfil the initiative that I hope the President will choose that will help him go down in history - the initiative of landing permanent settlers on the planet Mars."

Before then, Aldrin has another mission: to out-dance several celebrities in the 10th US season of Dancing With The Stars.

The show begins on March 22 so Aldrin has brought his dancing partner, Ashly DelGrosso-Costa, to New Zealand with him to keep practising for his show-opening cha-cha.

Aldrin told space.com that he was entering the competition partly to help improve public awareness of the space programme, but that he would be competing hard.

Among his opponents will be Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannen Doherty, Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger and another recent visitor to New Zealand, Pamela Anderson.

Aldrin will make a 45 minute address to the public at the conference at Sky City Convention Centre at 9am tomorrow.

- NZPA

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