By David Meade
With the help of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation and local sponsors, Palmetto Elementary School students are being inspired to possibly be involved in the first manned space mission to Mars.
Dr. Andy Aldrin, President, Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation and David Atchley, Director, Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation recently presented a “Mission to Mars Map” to Palmetto Elementary. The 25’ X 25’ Giant Mars Map comes with a set of curriculum materials developed by Purdue University. The Giant Map, which costs $5000, was paid for by a donation from Nissan of Anderson and TTI.
Dr. Aldrin and team unveiled the interactive Giant Mars Map to about fifteen students and teachers in the Palmetto Elementary Library, placing it on the floor where the students could actually “walk on Mars” while being introduced to the program and discuss Aldrin’s father’s vision of sending the first humans to Mars.
Dr. Aldrin’s father, Buzz Aldrin, performed the world’s first successful spacewalk in 1966 and in 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made history as part of Apollo 11, becoming the first two humans to set foot on the Moon. An estimated 600 million people – at that time, the world’s largest television audience in history – witnessed the unprecedented endeavor.
Aldrin has a vision of space travel to Mars, with people living there within the next 20 years. One step in achieving this dream is to inspire a generation of children to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM). The Giant Mars Map and ShareSpace Foundation, is a tool in providing this inspiration, Dr. Aldrin said. The curriculum materials include a Vex robot and ten copies of Buzz Aldrin’s “Welcome to Mars” book.
Teachers who use the Giant Mars Map become part of an international community of educators who support the promotion of STEAM, share an interest in the exploration of space, and contribute to a future in space by preparing the next generation of explorers. They also receive training, in-person or online, concerning Mars and use of the map.
The ShareSpace Foundation focuses on providing time and resources to fund STEAM-based educational tools, curriculum, scholarships and programs that help ignite passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math across a vertical pathway – starting with young students, who Dr. Aldrin says are the generation that will be the first to go to Mars. The foundation also provides resources to colleges and working professionals to ensure there will be a trained and talented workforce to get humans to Mars.
Anderson District One Director of Planning and Development Dr. Tiffany Estes said Palmetto Elementary was chosen because of the STEAM program at the school. “We focus on fourth grade,” she said. “They will be the first to go. The kids are so excited about learning and becoming scientists and engineers. It is exciting to see kids so excited about learning.”
Dr. Aldrin said he was eleven years old when his father Buzz made the historic trip to the moon. He said he grew up in a cul-de-sac where three astronauts lived. “It was kinda normal for me.” he said. “Any one of you could be the first person to step on Mars.”
Aldrin told the students it took 400,000 people and $30 billion to send men to the moon. “You could do it for a lot smaller amount now,” he said.
“You could buy a plane ticket to go into space. You are the first generation
that can participate like no one else could do. It starts with curiosity, to want to learn what’s on Mars.”
Dr. David Atchley then interacted with the students, standing in sock feet on the giant vinyl Mars map. The map includes the earth, the moon and a closeup map of the face of Mars.
Atchley explained the relative distances and the amount of time it takes for orbits, using the students to represent where the earth would be in relation to the moon and Mars.
The map also includes references to United States unmanned Mars landings including Viking 1 in 1975, Pathfinder and Sojourner rovers in 1997, Spirit Rover in 2003, Opportunity in 2004, Curiosity rover in 2012 and the most recent,k Insight in 2018.
Atchley said the ShareSpace Foundation introduces students to the planet Mars through the Giants Mars Map. Teachers receive a curriculum to use with the map which engages kids through hands-on experiments. The tool becomes a platform for sparking creativity in kids while they sit, stand, walk, play and learn together.
From flying fighter jets in the Korean War to being one of the first humans to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin has dedicated his life to exploring and continuing America’s quest to conquer space. Aldrin earned his doctorate of science in astronautics at MIT and wrote his thesis on manned orbital rendezvous.
In 1963, NASA selected Buzz into its third group of astronauts. The only one with a doctorate, he became known as “Dr. Rendezvous.”
The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today. He also pioneered underwater training techniques as a substitute for zero-gravity flights to simulate spacewalking. On the Gemini 12 orbital mission in 1966, Buzz performed the world’s first successful spacewalk and set an EVA record of 5 ½ hours.
On July 20, 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made history as part of Apollo 11, becoming the first two humans to set foot on the Moon. Upon retiring from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Buzz championed America’s continued leadership in human space exploration.
He devised a master plan for missions to Mars known as the “Aldrin Mars Cycler” – a spacecraft system with perpetual cycling orbits between Earth and Mars. He received three U.S. patents for his schematics of a modular space station, Starbooster reusable rockets and multi-crew modules for space flight. He launched the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Institute of Technology to promote and develop his vision of a permanent human settlement on Mars.
He also founded three entities: Starcraft Boosters, Inc., a rocket design company; ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit that ignites student passion for science through STEAM-based activities and boosts overall scientific literacy; and Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, Inc., which promotes his brand via public appearances, media, licensing and endorsements to promote the future of the space program.
Through his efforts, Aldrin continues to chart a course for future space travel and is passionate about inspiring the younger generations of future explorers and innovators.
Aldrin views the Moon “not as a destination but more a point of departure, one that places humankind on a trajectory to homestead Mars and become a two-planet species.” In August 2015, Aldrin, in association with the Florida Institute of Technology, presented a master plan to NASA for consideration where astronauts, with a tour of duty of ten years, establish a colony on Mars before the year 2040.
The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and man’s first steps on the Moon will be celebrated this year. Aldrin was a guest of President Trump and recognized at the State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“You could be the first”
Dr. Andy Aldrin, President, Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation and team, presented a “Giant Mars Map” to Palmetto about fifteen students and teachers in the Palmetto Elementary Library recently and talked about his father, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and his vision of sending the first humans to Mars by 2040.
Interactive Mars Map
David Atchley, Director, Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation, interacts with the students on the giant Mars map. The map is a closeup of the face of Mars and has names and dates of unmanned landings on Mars.
Dr. Andy Aldrin, President, Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation recently presented a “Giant Mars Map” to Palmetto Elementary School. The 25’ X 25’ Giant Mars Map comes with a set of curriculum materials developed by Purdue University and cost $5000. The Giant Map was paid for by a donation from Nissan of Anderson and TTI. Pictured (l-r): Amy Cothran, Palmetto Elementary Principal; Lee Sowell, TTI; David Atchley, Director, Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation; Jim Christensen, Executive Director ShareSpace Foundation; Dr. Andrew J. Aldrin, Director Aldrin Space Institute; Dr. Tiffany Estes, District One Director of Planning and Development and Quincie Moore, ShareSpace Foundation. (Not pictured: Damon Grainger of Nissan of Anderson)