Buzz Aldrin Skips Space Center Gala Amid Feud With His Children

Well, what was supposed to be a special night at the Kennedy Space turned out to be a bit more controversial than expected. One of the most famous NASA astronaut’s Buzz Aldrin was a no-show from a gala kicking off a yearlong celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the first moon landing, even though his own nonprofit space education foundation is a sponsor and he typically is the star attraction.

The black-tie Apollo Celebration Gala held under a Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday evening featured a panel discussion by astronauts, an awards ceremony and an auction of space memorabilia.

“Space is still hard, really hard. It still really matters,” Branson said. “There would be no Virgin Galactic, no Virgin Orbit and no spaceship company had it not been for Apollo astronauts and the thousands of talented people who made their mission possible.”

Dr. Carolyn Williams of the nonprofit From One Hand To AnOTHER received the foundation’s Education award, and former Johnson Space Center director Gerry Griffin, a flight director for all of the crewed Apollo missions, was honored with the Pioneer award.

“It’s very humbling, it kind of came out of the blue,” Griffin said. “It is so neat to know that we’ve passed the torch that will let this next generation take us to this next step.”

That next step, Griffin said, is a return of Americans to the Moon and, eventually, Mars — something former Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham, Harrison Schmitt, Rusty Schweickart and Tom Stafford discussed during a conversation with Cox.

“We’re sort of going through a second door here. The door isn’t all the way open — we haven’t gone all the way through it — but it’s cracked open,” Schweickart, who flew as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 9, told The Associated Press. “Space is going to be much less expensive to go to, and that’s going to open up not just opportunities for people to fly, but because of the decreased cost, real opportunities for innovators to generate new ideas and to do things that have never been done before.”

Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation is one of the sponsors of the annual gala, which raises money for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics — or STEAM education — and Astronaut Scholarship Foundation scholarships.

The former astronaut’s expected absence comes just a month after he sued two of his adult children and a former business manager, accusing them of misusing his credit cards, transferring money from an account and slandering him by saying he has dementia. Only weeks before the lawsuit, Andrew and Jan Aldrin filed a petition claiming their 88-year-old father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia and confusion.

Andrew and Jan Aldrin, as well as business manager Christina Korp, are on the foundation’s board and attended the gala. Aldrin’s oldest son, James, isn’t involved in the legal fight.

Andrew Aldrin acknowledged his father’s absence during the gala.

“We’re sorry dad can’t be here, I know some of you are disappointed,” Aldrin said. “Ultimately, what we’re about is creating the first generation of Martians.”

Buzz Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, was part of the Apollo 11 mission which landed the first two humans on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Quotes used in this story were from the ASSOCIATED PRESS.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.