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Gala opens countdown to the 50th anniversary of the 1st moon landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin was noticeably absent at a gala that heralded a one-year celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, although his charitable Space Foundation is a sponsor and he's typically the

Aldrin said he has the Apollo Celebration Gala was not visited on Saturday as it objected to the Foundation's current objectives and ongoing legal affairs.

The former astronaut is in a lawsuit with family members saying he is suffering from mental deterioration. The Black Tie event, held under a Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center, featured a panel discussion of astronauts, an award ceremony and an auction of space memorabilia.

Hundreds of people attended the sold-out event British physicist Brian Cox, who presented the InnovationSpace Foundation's Innovation Award to Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson

Branson, whose company develops a new generation of commercial spacecraft, said in A Video That Affected Apollo Missions [1

9659006] "Space is still hard, very hard, it's still important," Branson said. "There would be no Virgin Galactic, no Virgin Orbit, and no Spaceship Company, unless Apollo astronauts and thousands of talented humans made their mission possible."

Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins attended the historic event Apollo 11 mission, landing the first two humans on the moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong was the first to walk on the Moon, soon joined by Aldrin, while Collins remained in orbit aboard the command module.

Dr. Carolyn Williams of the charitable organization From One Hand To AnOTHER received the Foundation's Education Award, and Johnson Space Center's former director, Gerry Griffin, flight director for all manned Apollo missions, was honored with the Pioneer Award

"It is very humiliating, it somehow came out of the blue, "Griffin said. "It's so nice to know that we've passed the torch this next generation will take us to this next step."

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

"We're going through a second door here, the door is not quite open – we did not go all the way – but it's torn up," said Schweickart, who was piloting the lunar module on Apollo 9, told the Associated Press , "Space will be much cheaper, and that will not only open up opportunities for people to fly, but because of the reduced cost real opportunities for innovators to generate new ideas and do things that have never been done"

Aldrins ShareSpace Foundation is one of the sponsors of the annual gala, which raises money for science, technology, engineering, art and math – or STEAM education – and scholarships for astronaut scholarships.

Renowned Brazilians Pop art artist Romero Britto donated works of art from his "Buzz Aldrin Space Series" for the auction, which included a behind-the-scenes tour of Virgin Galactic in California and autographed space memorabilia. Tickets for the event ranged from $ 750 to $ 2,500 per person.

The presumed absence of the former astronaut comes just one month after he sued two of his adult children and a former business executive, accusing them of abusing his credit cards and transferring money from one and maligning him by saying he has dementia , Just weeks before the lawsuit, Andrew and Jan Aldrin filed a petition alleging that their 88-year-old father suffered from memory loss, delusions, paranoia, and confusion.

Andrew and Jan Aldrin and Business Manager Christina Korp are on the Board of Trustees and attended the gala. Aldrin's eldest son, James, is not involved in the lawsuit.

Andrew Aldrin confirmed his father's absence during the gala.

"Sorry dad can not be here, I know some of you are disappointed," said Aldrin. "Ultimately, it's about creating the first generation of Martians."

Buzz Aldrin said in a statement that he did not attend the gala "because of current events regarding my space initiatives, including recent legal matters relating to the ShareSpace Foundation."

"I founded the ShareSpace Foundation in 1998 to promote individual space travelers, "added Aldrin. "The Foundation, in my view, is now being used to promote very different goals."


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