By Max Godnick
The Trump Administration's [newfound commitment] (https://cheddar.com/media/nasa-budget-not-enough-to-get-to-moon-by-2024-says-aiaa-director) to send man back to the moon within the next five years just landed an endorsement from someone who's already been there: Former Astronaut Charlie Duke.
"I think we should be doing it, " Duke told Cheddar in an interview on Tuesday.
"Buzz Aldrin wants to go to Mars, bypass the Moon," Duke said, predicting that private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin will come to dominate nearer-space travel, while NASA will handle further missions, like ones to Mars.
"I think we need to go back to the Moon to develop the systems and the technologies that we can actually survive on Mars," Duke said.
And he would know. In 1972, Duke became the 10 and youngest person to walk on the moon as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16 (today, he's one of just four surviving men to have accomplished the feat.) Three years prior to that, he served as Capsule Communicator during Apollo 11, communicating with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their maiden lunar voyage from his post at Mission Control in Houston.
Duke said everybody working on that mission had the same thought in mind:
"If this thing fails, it's not going to be my fault," he said.
Now, nearly 50 years after Armstrong took that historic "giant leap for mankind," the groundbreaking mission is getting the stage treatment. "Apollo 11" is a new original production performed by a full cast utilizing 40,000 square feet of 360-degree video projection.
"The documentaries show you exactly what happened, we're trying to go beyond just the Mission Control room and tell the story of the 400,000 people that made all these missions successful," said the production's director, Scott Faris.
Duke is serving as an ambassador from the iconic mission to the new production, and said he was struck by the novel way to tell such a well-known story.
"It seemed to be such an exciting way to tell the Apollo Program [story] that I decided to get involved with it," he said.
"Apollo 11" focuses on a grandfather's quest to tear his teenage granddaughter away from her smartphone by regaling her with stories about his involvement in the Apollo program. That state-of-the-art technology plays a key role in the production is an irony not lost on Duke.
"My cellphone has 800,000 times the memory of my Apollo computer," he said.
"Apollo 11: An Immersive 360° Adventure" begins its 18-city tour on July 5 at The Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif.
For full interview click here.