The female compere of the opening ceremony of the International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem (IAC 2015) noted that while evidence of flowing (salty) water may have been found on Mars, she would be more likely to want to go to the planet if it had been wine that had been discovered. That would have been a miracle indeed.
The famous former moonwalking astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, was particularly entertaining at the Congress when talking about his Apollo 11 and Gemini days…especially on how he fixed the Apollo 11 ascent engine circuit breaker with his pen. Nevertheless, he was starting to become a little too ubiquitous and a little too long-winded for some. Apart from this talk, he presented at technical sessions including one on his speciality, Mars cycling orbits.
Buzz also put in guest appearances at various other functions. When he turned up at the Space Generation Forum one disgruntled youngster was heard to say about the great man: “Oh no…not him again!” Sigh…how they forget.
Ah well, at least Buzz did his bit by signing autographs in his Mars exploration book for children on behalf of the Heinlein space educational foundation. These signed books were much better value at about US$25 than his usual US$700 autograph rate!
The value of his autograph might have gone even higher given the dangerous situation in Jerusalem. There was a certain black humour to be enjoyed, even in a sad situation, when your correspondent caught sight of Buzz desperately trying to get into the conference building after it was “locked down” following a nearby murderous attack. It was almost as if Apollo 11’s commander, Neil Armstrong, had locked him out of the lunar module.
At least Buzz did not drop the clanger that ESA Director General Jan Woerner did. In a press conference speech, he made what would have been an amusing quip about trying not to mention the “Final Solution” until one considered that he was talking in Jerusalem.
National character traits set aside, your fond-of-a-good-deal correspondent was a bit concerned that the low-cost airline’s Airbus A320 jet he was flying on to Tel Aviv, on his way to Jerusalem, might be destabilised when the captain of the airliner announced that the rear galley area was available for prayer and 50 black-hatted religious Jewish gents suddenly rushed to the back of the aeroplane.
Their prayers must have worked as the jet stayed airborne.