Mars is even more interesting when a real-life astronaut is talking about it.An audience of about 340 people gathered at James H. LaRue Library on Oct. 19 to see Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.The evening started with videos and photos of Aldrin on his space missions — Gemini 12 in 1966 and Apollo 11 in 1969 with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong.He was accompanied on stage by mission director of Aldrin Enterprises, Christina Korp.Aldrin, 85, recalled the story of how he got the name “Buzz.”“My sister pronounced brother as bruzzer,” he said. “So my family called me Buzz for short.”Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. made Buzz his legal first name in the 1980s.Aldrin also introduced his new children's book, “Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet,” which reads from the point of view of a young astronaut on a mission to Mars.“Upon landing, Aldrin describes how the first explorers — including the reader — will de-dust themselves, set up camp and begin finding resources,” according to space.com.Among the audience were five students from STEM Academy. They signed up to volunteer months ago.“We really want to hear Buzz Aldrin speak,” Sebastian Del Barco said. “And of course we want to meet him.”Del Barco, a sophomore, is in the engineering program at StEM and aspires to be in the aerospace and aero-economics industries. He and his classmates are currently working on an aerospace intern rocket that tracks things like temperature and pressure about 1,500 feet off the ground.Students in the engineering program at STEM are interested in building everything from robotics to rockets, said Mike Shallenberger, department of chair for engineering.And now five of those students can say they've listened to an astronaut speak about the marvels of space.
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