‘Neil Armstrong thought the moon was beautiful, but I thought it was desolate’3 min read

Neil Armstrong thought the moon was beautiful, but I thought it was desolate’: Buzz Aldrin on his first impressions – and how they nearly didn’t make it

  • Buzz Aldrin shared his first impressions of the moon and tales of the difficult landing in an interview with Sir David Frost that will air tonight
  • He also shared his belief that the colonisation of Mars is necessary for the survival of the human race
  • Viewers will see Aldrin commentate on the iconic lunar landings and unseen film footage from his time as a fighter pilot in Korea

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, has confessed that he didn’t share Neil Armstrong’s enthusiasm about the beauty of it when they arrived there.

Speaking to Sir David Frost in an interview airing tonight, he described the moon as ‘desolate’ and totally lifeless’ up close, sharing his first impressions of the moon.

In the interview, he told Sir David he disagrees with Armstrong that the moon was ‘beautiful’.

Aldrin said: ‘Neil had an optimistic way of using the word “beautiful”. ‘But when I looked out, it wasn’t beautiful.  It was desolate – totally lifeless.

‘[There was] really, not much except shades of grey and a black horizon.

‘It was magnificent but it’s not very habitable – very lifeless.’

He also talked about the difficult landing that he and Armstrong went through on the Apollo 11 lunar module, which nearly ran out of fuel, before landing on the moon 44 years ago.

Asked about whether Armstrong prepared his famous ‘one step for man’ line, he said Armstrong had plenty of time to come up the quotation while they prepared to land on the moon.


He went on to say that Armstrong told him that he was not sure what he was going to say just before the pair took their famous steps on the lunar surface.

Aldrin said that Michael Collins, who piloted the Apollo 11 spacecraft alone while Aldrin and Armstrong moon walked, asked Armstrong what he planned on saying as he stepped foot on the moon and Armstrong replied: ‘Let’s get there first’.

Aldrin noted that ‘Of course, we had a good bit of time getting ready. Several hours’ in which Armstrong could have come up with his famous quotation.

Looking to the future, Aldrin spoke about his current work in establishing a colony on Mars.

Responding to critics who question the ambitious purpose in spending vast amounts of money to colonise Mars, Aldrin said the move is necessary for the survival of the human race.

He also believes in the power of technology to make it possible, exemplified by the rapid progress in Silicon Valley in recent years.


He said: ‘What did we have in the sixties and seventies? Undisputed leadership in the world in technology, as exhibited by the Apollo Programme.

‘Look at what Silicon Valley has done – the advance of computers. We lead the world…and in these hard economic times, we need to inspire people.’

The programme includes an opportunity for viewers to watch the lunar landings, with running commentary by Aldrin and footage of his time as a fighter pilot in Korea in the 1950s, which has never been seen before.


Sebastien Clarke
Sebastien Clarke

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