Buzz Aldrin visited NYC on Tuesday night. I wandered by because Buzz Aldrin is a fairly awesome guy. Buzz was part of the first manned flight to the moon. He was second to ever touch lunar soil. And he’s an all around amazing guy. In the Korean war he shot down 2 MiGs. He has a doctorate from MIT. And he’s worn a hell of a lot of hats and helmets in his life. But when it comes right down to it, he’s got a real first person memory of having walked on another celestial body. Only 12 men have ever experienced that.
With the budget cuts at NASA, and the fleeting lifespans of human beings there may come a time not too far off when no man alive remembers ever having walked on a surface not our own. Buzz has been a vocal advocate of the Mars missions, and he’s been a huge supporter of space exploration in general for the majority of his life. His visit is timely, as the LRO and LCROSS projects are currently orbiting the moon approaching their target orbits and in some cases collision. These projects were to be the vanguard for future manned missions to the moon, to establish a semi-permanent outpost there. This could have been the launching point for a mars mission.
It’s sad that the worlds eyes are turned towards the bloodshed in Iran at a time when our gaze should be turned upwards to the stars and the infinite wonders they hold. Too often the spectre of human strife beguiles us. It is during those trying times that inspiration to achieve, and excel are of the utmost importance. Too often the news is filled with villains. It’s the heroes that inspire us.
I like to think that the role of hackerspaces contributes to space exploration and development in a very positive way. At NYCR alone we’ve had members use ham radios to contact satellites, and the ISS, bre has built high altitude balloon rigs, and our microcontroller mailing list this week had a rather lengthy thread about amateur rocketry. Learning, sharing, and making are at the very heart of self exploration and it’s addictive.
One of the things that hackerspaces do functionally in communities is introduce them to the joy of exploration. It also demystifies engineering and the sciences. It’s astounding that there are people to this very day that simply cannot believe that the lunar landings even happened. Heck there are some folks out there who still don’t believe in airplanes. It’s my firm belief that hackerspaces give people a shelter from the negativity of the world around them. A lifeline that tethers them to the hope of what can be. So yeah. Even after all these years I still find Neil, Buzz, Mike, and all the rest of NASA throughout the years to be absolutely inspirational.