Buzz Aldrin bound for prestigious space studies event in Cork

Over 300 space experts due at Space Studies Program hosted by Cork Institute of Technology

He was there when Neil Armstrong uttered his immortal lines, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" as he stepped on to the Moon.

Now, Apollo 11 astronaut Dr Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin is coming to Cork to participate in a prestigious spaces studies programme.

The second man to walk on the Moon in an event which was at the time viewed by some 600 million TV viewers across the globe, Dr Aldrin has a string of notable firsts to his name when it comes to space exploration.

A jet fighter pilot during the Korean War, Dr Aldrin was selected as an astronaut by Nasa in 1963 and earned himself the nickname "Dr Rendezvous" for his development of docking and rendezvous techniques still used today in space exploration.


He also pioneered underwater training techniques as a substitute for zero-gravity flights to simulate spacewalking and. In 1966, on the Gemini 12 orbital mission, Dr Aldrin set an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) record for a 5.5-hour spacewalk.

It was three years later, on July 20th, 1969, that Dr Aldrin entered the history books when he and Cmdr Neil Armstrong made their momentous Apollo 11 Moon walk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world when they spent 21 hours on the lunar surface.

Magnificent Desolation

The author of several books, including his best-selling autobiography, Magnificent Desolation, Dr Aldrin is chancellor of the International Space University (ISU) - and it is in that capacity that he is coming to Cork to open the ISU's 30th Space Studies Program, hosted by Cork Institute of Technology.

“This extensive programme will raise public awareness of the benefits, challenges and inspiration of space exploration and other space endeavours. I’m looking forward to my time in Cork and hope to experience many of the exciting events while there,” he said.

According to Dr Niall Smith, head of research at CIT, who led the pitch to bring the Space Studies Program to Cork, attracting someone with the status of Dr Aldrin to the event is a considerable coup.

“We feel exceptionally honoured that Dr Aldrin has agreed to attend this unique event. He was an integral part of the most pioneering space programmes of their time, having participated in both the Gemini and Apollo series of missions,” said Dr Smith.

Ongoing inspiration

"He has continued his life-long association with space in academia and is an ongoing inspiration to all of us who admire him for his brilliance and personal courage. When the current generation of space scientists speak of standing on the shoulders of giants, Buzz Aldrin is one of those giants."

Dr Buzz Aldrin’s public lecture at CIT on Tuesday June 27th, at 8pm, promises to be a highlight of the public events said Dr Smith. Tickets are free and will be available from noon on June 7th on a first come, first served basis.

The Space Studies Program, which runs from June 26th to August 25th, will attract some 320 space experts from 26 countries, including astronauts Dan Tani, Nicole Scott, Robert Thirsk, Yi So-yeon and Jeffrey Hoffman, who represent over 30 years of international space flight experience.

In addition to the official elements of the programme reserved for delegates, CIT and Blackrock Castle Observatory are running an extensive public engagement programme with more than 50 public events aimed at young and old alike across Cork city and county, Dr Smith said.

Among the attractions is The Museum of the Moon, a giant replica of the Moon, which is seven metres in diameter and designed by artist Luke Jerram in a partnership installation between CIT and Cork Midsummer Festival, which features detailed Nasa imagery of the lunar surface.

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Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times