Buzz Aldrin caused consternation on Tuesday by failing to turn up to a reunion with crewmate Michael Collins on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch.
The 88-year-old bowed out at the last minute because of his intense travel schedule, NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said, according to AP.
Photos of the flaky spaceman emerged on Wednesday, taken in Burbank, California during his tour of the nation to attend celebrations marking the first moon landing in 1969.
They show him posing for private jet company Flexjet, including as he boarded a Challenger 300 plane, and Aldrin also tweeted a smiling selfie on the jet with the caption: ’50th Anniversary selfie on our official jet provider @flexjet’.
Aldrin also posted a video on Twitter Tuesday evening, in which he spoke about the historic space mission.
Promotional photos of Buzz Aldrin emerged on Wednesday, taken in Burbank, California, after he bailed on a NASA reunion with his crewmate Michael Collins on Tuesday
The flaky spaceman posted a video on Twitter Tuesday evening, saying: ‘By my greatest good fortune, I was able to join Neil and Mike on the Saturn V’. He did not mention NOT joining Collins at Tuesday’s reunion
The video was captioned: ’50 years ago today, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and I launched into space on a mission of enormous importance.’
‘By my greatest good fortune, I was able to join Neil and Mike on the Saturn V that day,’ Aldrin said in the video.
He did not mention the fact that he was not joining crewmate Collins on Tuesday at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida, the exact site where their Saturn V rocket set off.
Collins, 88, who who was left alone aboard the Apollo 11 command module while Neil Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon, made mention of Aldrin’s conspicuous absence.
‘There’s a difference this time. I want to turn and ask Neil a question and maybe tell Buzz Aldrin something, and of course, I’m here by myself,’ he said.
The 88-year-old posed for private jet company Flexjet, including in the cockpit of a Challenger 300
Aldrin is pictured in front of a private plane for what he called ‘our official jet provider’ Flexjet
The 88-year-old former astronaut posted this ’50th Anniversary selfie’ on Twitter Wednesday
Social media users were soon asking after the second man to walk on the Moon, with Katy Moore tweeting: ‘Where is Buzz Aldrin today? He was not with Collins at 39A.’
While Maxwell Mark wrote: ‘Where was Buzz Aldrin?’
Aldrin and Collins may reunite in Washington on Friday or Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11′s moon landing.
Aldrin and Collins are the two surviving astronauts who were joined by Armstrong on the July 16, 1969 mission to the moon.
Four days after the launch, Aldrin and Armstrong became the first people to walk on the moon, while Collins stayed aboard the Apollo 11 tending to Columbia, the mother ship.
Group portrait of Apollo 11 lunar landing mission astronauts (L-R) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr. taken shorly before their July 16, 1969 mission
Michael Collins at Launch Pad 39A at the NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday with the facility’s Director Robert Cabana, but without Aldrin, who was supposed to be there
Aldrin confessed in a recent interview at a 50th anniversary gala at the Ronald Reagan Library outside Los Angeles that the three astronauts felt disconnected from the people back on earth watching the momentous event.
‘I sometimes think the three of us missed “the big event,”‘ he said.
In other celebrations of the historic day, Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to Armstrong on Tuesday at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
On July 16 1969, Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were blasted off from Earth and into space on a mission like no other, aiming to put mankind on the moon for the first time.
And exactly five decades on Mike Pence hosted the unveiling of the Apollo 11 commander’s spacesuit, which is back on display at the museum for the first time in 13 years.
The Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket taking off from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida on July 16, 1969
Rick Armstrong, the son of Neil Armstrong (left), vice president Mike Pence (center), and Smithsonian´s National Air and Space Museum director Ellen Stofan (right), unveil Neil Armstrong´s Apollo 11 spacesuit
On July 16 1969, Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were blasted off from Earth and into space on a mission like no other, aiming to put mankind on the moon for the first time
In a speech watched by the late astronaut’s wife, son, Rick, and grandson, Bryce, Mr Pence praised Armstrong’s courage and ‘incredible accomplishment’ in taking once small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind all those years ago.
‘The risks were great, the odds were long, and they were so long that some even feared that if we could make it to the Moon we might not be able to make it back,’ he said.
‘I expect it is moving for his family and for every family to remember the dangers and the risks at the time that this spacesuit simply may have been the very last thing that Neil Armstrong ever wore, in fact, there was a time and during that time that scientists speculated whether when a lunar module like this one behind me landed on the Moon, whether it would be able to lift off again.’
In the event of such a tragedy, president at the time, Richard Nixon – who delivered a message to the three astronauts after their successful lunar landing – asked his speechwriter, William Safire, to also write a letter of a different kind.
Titled, ‘In Event of a Moon Disaster’, the alternative speech was set to address Armstrong and Aldrin’s widows, in addition to the nation.
Mike Pence hosted the unveiling of Armstrong’s spacesuit, which is back on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for the first time in 13 years (Pictured: Neil Armstrong’s grandson, Bryce, stands right)
In the event the men weren’t able to return from space, President at the time, Richard Nixon – who delivered a message to the three astronauts after their successful lunar landing – asked his speechwriter, William Safire, to also write a letter of a different kind, title ‘In the event of a moon disaster’
‘Fate as ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace,’ the address begins.
‘These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.’
In a 1999 interview, Safire admitted that should the men not be able to launch from the moon’s surface, they would’ve been ‘abandoned on the moon’ and would have had to either ‘starve to death or commit suicide’.
Dubbed the speech that was ‘thankfully never needed’ by the officials at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum where the transcript is currently held, Nixon was instead able to personally congratulate the men for their successful mission, saying ‘because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world.’
Commander Armstrong died in August 2012 at the age of 82, following complications from a cardiovascular procedure.
Dubbed the speech that was ‘thankfully never needed’ by the officials at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum where the transcript is currently held, Nixon was instead able to personally congratulate the men for their successful mission, saying ‘because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world’
In a speech watched by the late astronaut’s wife, son and grandson, Mr Pence praised Armstrong’s courage and ‘incredible accomplishment’ in taking once small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind all those years ago
The suit had been out of view and needed to be restored before it was put on display at the Air and Space Museum in Washington
But Pence offered posthumous praise of his own over Armstrong’s heroics, adding: ‘His courage was displayed perhaps nowhere more profoundly than in the moments just before the Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the surface of the Moon,’ Pence continued.
‘It was that coolness during the original landing that likely saved the lives of the two astronauts that were aboard the lunar module.’
Four days after Apollo 11 blasted out from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, the spacecraft’s Eagle module – carrying Armstrong and Aldrin – was running drastically low on fuel and urgently needed to land on the moon’s surface.
The module’s autopilot mode had overshot the desired landing zone by some four miles, leaving the two men hurtling towards a crater filled with rocks and jagged terrain for what sure would’ve made for a fatal crash landing.
With the success of the mission literally in his hands, Armstrong switched off the Eagle’s autopilot mode and took manual control of its reigns.
Four days after Apollo 11 blasted out from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Apollo 11’s Eagle module – carrying Armstrong and Aldrin – was running drastically low on fuel and was ready to land on the moon’s surface
Armstrong died in August 2012 at the age of 82, following complications from a cardiovascular procedure
Despite his heart-rate measuring at an erratic 150 BPM, Armstrong kept a cool head and a steady hand, guiding the Eagle away from the crater.
With just 17 seconds of fuel remaining, incredibly Armstrong was able to bring the Eagle in for landing on a smooth, flat patch of the moon’s surface.
‘When the original landing area turned out to be so full of large boulders that landing there would have doomed the mission and the crew, history records again that Neil Armstrong calmly took the control of the module, skimmed across the top of the lunar surface and manually found a safe spot to touch down…It’s incredible,’ Pence said.
‘So today we remember the service and accomplishments of Apollo 11, and of its commander, Neil Armstrong, but we also do well to remember his courage and that steely professionalism that saw him through an entire career of incredible accomplishment and saw that mission to a safe landing and return home.’
Mr Pence also shared his own memories of Apollo 11, saying it ‘stamped an indelible mark’ on his life.
‘I remember that day, and as I speak to Americans younger than me, I feel even more privileged to have been sitting in the basement of our home as those snowy images came back, the black and white images of that incredible moment,’ he explained.
Armstrong’s suit had been taken out of public view at the Washington museum for more than a decade as it needed to be drastically restored, but the project would prove to be too expensive to action action immediately.
A fundraising campaign set up years later took just five days to raise the $500,000 needed for the cosmetic overhaul.
In a tweet later reflecting on the event, Pence remarked: ‘Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit underwent painstaking work & hand-stitched repairs to restore it. We are humbled by the heroism of the man who wore this suit 50 years ago & we are in awe by the skill of American men & women who created it & helped preserve it.’
The vice president also took the opportunity to mention renewed ambitions for the US to return to space within five years, which was made a policy by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
The Eagle module’s (above) autopilot mode had however overshot the landing zone by some four miles, leaving the two men hurtling towards a crater filled with rocks and jagged terrain for what sure would’ve made for a fatal crash landing.
With the success of the mission literally in his hands, Armstrong switched off the Eagle’s autopilot mode and took manual control of its reigns, guiding it to a smooth patch of land with just 17 seconds of fuel remaining
Neil Armstrong became the first man to ever step foot on the moon, quipping the famous line ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ as he bound his way across the lunar desert