INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
THOMAS M. BARRETT, Wisconsin
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut TOM LANTOS, California
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
Aldrin, Buzz, astronaut, Apollo 11; Walter Cunningham,
astronaut, Apollo 7; Ron Howard, director, “Apollo 13”;
and Story Musgrave, astronaut and scientist...........
Carpenter, Scott, Mercury 7 astronaut; Captain Eugene Cernan, Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo 17 astronaut; and Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut..................
Letters, statements, etc., submitted for the record by:
Aldrin, Buzz, astronaut, Apollo 11, prepared
statements of........................................17, 165
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on National Security, International
Affairs, and Criminal Justice,
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight,
Congress, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here today. As you
know, I have more than a passing interest in space. And I
appreciate the chance to say a few words about the possibilities
that await this Nation, especially if we make the right choices.
I also want to the thank the Air and Space Museum, which has
really outdone themselves by allowing this
first ever hearing in this great hall.
It’s been nearly 30 years since Neil and I walked on the
Moon, yet that day is as vivid to me as I know it is to many of
you. It was historic in its meaning for all mankind since it
was an achievement that Americans and all mankind shared in and
continues today. There were a few risks, of course. When we
finally set the lunar module down, with Neil piloting and me
calling out the number for him, on July 20, 1969, we had only
an estimated 16 seconds of fuel left in the descent stage.
wasn’t much chance of surviving that. If the one ascent engine didn’t fire or the computers on board malfunctioned, we would never have left the Moon. If the rendezvous with Mike Collins in the command module hadn’t gone flawlessly there were other rather unsavory consequences. But the mission was built on the know-how and knowledge of thousands of dedicated Americans.
It was also built on faith and a national commitment. I was
fortunate and proud to have been chosen for Apollo 11. And
I’m here to give back to a Nation that gave me an unparalleled
opportunity: the chance to land and walk on the Moon, and to be
the first mission ever to do so, and then to continue to
carry a message of encouragement for an ever-better future in
My message today is also a call for action, a call to all
Americans, especially young Americans, to reach out for the
stars, reach for greater knowledge, have faith in the future,
and help re-inspire a renewed national commitment to human
space exploration. First I want to talk a moment about space
and about those three words: knowledge, faith and commitment.
Then briefly I want to touch on five specific aspects of space
flight that beckon us as a Nation.
My chief message is this: America must dream, have the
faith to achieve the dream, and develop the fullest possible
knowledge of the possibilities that await us. Even the best
trained and the brightest engineers, scientists, business
people and political leaders, if they have no vision, are
mere place holders in time. We must dare again to take risks as
a Nation. And we must see again that this generation of
Americans—those alive today—have at their fingertips the
technology and the recent history necessary to trigger a
cascade of vast new discoveries for this living generation and
those that will follow.
Some would say that we have an obligation to use the
talents and insights that we’ve been given. Those of us who can
remember the power and majesty of the Apollo program’s
accomplishment, let me say as I sit here before you today,
having walked on the Moon, that I am, myself, still awed by
that miracle. And I can still remember the feeling of
exhilaration as I look here at the lunar module behind me — I
recall backing down that ladder to the lunar surface. But
that awe in me and each of us were what this Nation and people
can bring forth when we try, should be, must be the engine of
future achievement, not the slow, dimming light from a time
It’s not the obligation, however, that I wish most to talk
about. It’s the vision, the faith in brilliant opportunities
that await us. These are what bring me here today. In a book
that Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and I wrote in 1970 called
“First on the Moon, “Arthur Clarke offered a truly visionary
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