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Buzz Aldrin: U.S. isn't leader in space exploration

Monday - 7/14/2014, 9:17pm  ET

buzzboot.jpg
Buzz Aldrin made this footprint on a pristine surface so that he could then photograph it for study by soil mechanics experts. (NASA)

Politics, corporate greed slow space exploration

Former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin

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WASHINGTON -- On July 20, the U.S., and perhaps the world, will celebrate the 45th anniversary of a man landing on the moon.

On that date in 1969, Buzz Aldrin stepped from Apollo 11 after Neil Armstrong as millions watched from TVs across the world. Now, Aldrin wants to make sure NASA's space program is kept alive.

"We've come a long way and yet we've not come a long way," Aldrin laughed as he spoke to WTOP via phone from New York. "A lot of people would have thought we'd be a bit further along right now."

Aldrin is trying to work with political leaders and those at NASA to move toward future space missions, a direction he says everyone would like to see. Right now, Aldrin says, the U.S. isn't a leader in space exploration. While America was dominant in the '60s and '70s, that power hasn't been maintained.

Part of the problem is, according to Aldrin, a "lackadaisical concern by the American people" about funding.

But, he continues, short-term political objectives and corporate greed are also to blame.

"When you are really trying to put somebody out of business, that's not too healthy. And political short-term objectives to help get reelected -- that is very catastrophic on our space program."

When asked about Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Aldrin said, "Well, he's an individual with a new company; I wouldn't say that he's commercially doing things. He's supplying rockets and contracts to deliver goods to the space station."

SpaceX, a California company, is contracted with NASA to deliver supplies and cargo. On Monday, the company's Falcon rocket sent six advanced satellites to the New Jersey-based Orbcomm.

Apollo 11 moonwalk montage:

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