Mooncake proves another first for the real Buzz Lightyear

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 June, 2009, 12:00am

The second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, had a few encouraging words for Hong Kong's future astronauts yesterday.

He spoke to students gathered at the Space Museum about how he felt on July 20, 1969, when he stepped out of the lunar module of the Apollo 11 mission, following commander Neil Armstrong, and saw the Earth millions of kilometres away.

'I was glancing up and saw the Earth, all of humanity, all of history was there except three people.' Pilot Michael Collins was the other member of the mission.

The former astronaut and Nasa aerospace engineer James Ragan appeared at the museum in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday to officiate at the opening of a three-day exhibition that showcases gear used during the moon missions.

He was asked what the most difficult movement on the moon was. 'I came down the ladder to jump down [onto the moon]. But it was so difficult to jump back up! I was so disappointed that I had not succeeded in the first thing I had to do,' he said.

In 2002, he punched filmmaker Bart Sibrel after he called the landing mission a hoax and the astronaut a liar. He said yesterday: 'I don't pay any attention to them [hoax theorists] unless they really bother me.'

But the space pioneer, now 79, has not lost his sense of humour. 'Like Buzz Lightyear, I never got fully compensated for it,' he said, referring to the Disney cartoon character whose name he inspired.

Despite his connection to the moon, a mooncake - the delicacy eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival - remained an alien object to him. 'I've heard of a moon pie though,' he said, referring to a pastry with a marshmallow filling.

It was amid a space race between the Soviet Union and the United States when the landing missions were made. Entering the 21st century, co-operation might be a better strategy when nations mount their landing missions, he said. Countries with rocket capabilities, including India and China, could co-operate, he said, predicting that in 20 years, man could see the first landing on Mars.

The exhibition, which started yesterday, runs until Sunday and is free.

Form Four student Lau Tak-shing, who is an award-winning inventor, said he was unsure he would take the path of scientific research. '[Science] is not as outstanding as finance in Hong Kong,' he said.