Space explorer Buzz Aldrin answers questions from select local students, scientists and professors during launch of event celebrating the Moon Landing -Exhibition draws over 10, 000 visitors in one weekend
The Hong Kong Space Museum saw a massive surge in traffic this weekend as over 10, 000 people visited the "Beyond Time" exhibition by the Museum and OMEGA during a three-day run that ended Sunday, June 21. "Beyond Time, " held in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing, featured a collection of space travel equipment and memorabilia such as a space suit, cameras, flight plans, and a range of OMEGA Speedmaster watches, the only watch approved by NASA for manned space missions. Many of the exhibition items had never before been seen in Hong Kong.
To kick off the exhibition, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, and NASA Aerospace Engineer James H. Ragan engaged in a 20-minute Q&A session with nine Hong Kong space enthusiasts from across the generations.
The answers were alternately spirited and contemplative as outstanding local students, teachers and professionals asked questions to the two men, who were seated on a stage in front of the exhibition. Each of the select participants represented a decade between the 1940s and 2000s.
Miss Jenny Lee Cheuk Wing, a six-year-old primary student who won the Science Fantasy Drawing category in the Hong Kong Youth Science Technology & Invention Competition 08-09, asked Mr. Aldrin, "If you could go to the moon again, who would you like to travel with, and why?" Aldrin responded that his choice would be his wife of more than 20 years, Lois, before adding, "But I think I would forfeit my seat to you, and I hope you would choose a very fine person to go with you."
Two secondary school students representing the 1990s, Lau Tak Kin and Lau Tak Shing, who won multiple local and international awards for their invention of the "miracle anti-bump lock", asked Mr. Aldrin what kind of difficulties he had walking on the Moon. Aldrin replied that stepping down from the ladder and getting back up was more difficult than he anticipated due to the distance between the last rung and the lunar surface. "I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t. It was hard, and I missed, and I had to try again. And I was so disappointed that I had not succeeded in the first thing I needed to do!"
Dennis Huen, a scientist and Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Science Talent Society who was representing the 1980s, asked Mr. Ragan why NASA decided astronauts needed their own wristwatch and chronograph in space and on the Moon. Ragan, who led the chronograph testing for NASA, responded that NASA determined it was a "requirement for helping astronauts get to the Moon." He then added that after putting a range of off-the-shelf chronographs through a rigorous battery of tests, the OMEGA Speedmaster was the only one to pass, with the added benefit of needing no additional modifications.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Professor Chan Kwing Lam, a former NASA researcher who has also advised the Chinese space program and representing the 1940s, asked the final question, "Do you think that space exploration can one day help unite humankind?" Aldrin replied, "I think there is something special about space … up there is great hope." He concluded that the leader of any nation embarking upon space exploration would be "very kindly remembered by history."
Following the launch event, the exhibition was immediately opened to the public, resulting in a steady flow of museum-goers and photographers for the remainder of the weekend.
During his speech at the event, Buzz Aldrin commented about being in Hong Kong. "I’ve always thought this is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. You have people from all around the world here, and it’s always a pleasure to come back, " Aldrin said, adding, "Maybe the next time there is a celebration like this here, it will be to celebrate landing on Mars."
Although the "Beyond Time" exhibition is now closed, the Hong Kong Space Museum will permanently display two items resulting from its run: a "Moonprint" made by Mr. Aldrin during the launch event to replicate the famous photo of his footstep on the Moon, and an OMEGA Speedmaster watch replicating the one worn in space by Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman, the commander of the first mission to go around the Moon. Parts of the "Beyond Time" exhibition will next travel to Germany; previous stops have been New York and Tokyo.