CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin was noticeably absent at a gala that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing for a year, although his charitable Space Foundation is a sponsor (19659002) Aldrin He said he was absent because of objections to the foundation's current goals and the ongoing legal issues associated with the foundation. The former astronaut is in a lawsuit with family members who say he is suffering from mental deterioration.
The black Apollo Celebration Gala took place on Saturday under a Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center, featuring a panel discussion of astronauts, a prize-giving ceremony and an auction of memorabilia from outer space.
Hundreds of people attended the sold-out event, including British physicist Brian Cox, who honored Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson with the ShareSpace Foundation's Innovation Award
Branson, whose company is developing a new generation of commercial spacecraft, said in a video that the Apollo missions influenced his generation.
"Space is still hard, really hard, it's still important," Branson said. "There would be no Virgin Galactic, no Virgin Orbit, and no Spaceship Company if Apollo astronauts and thousands of talented humans had not made their mission possible."
Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins participated in the historic event Apollo 1
Dr. Carolyn Williams of the charitable organization From One Hand To AnOTHER received the foundation's Education Award, and the Johnson Space Center's former director, Gerry Griffin, Flight Director of all manned Apollo missions, was honored with the Pioneer Award.
"It's very humiliating, it kinda 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 open – we did not go all the way through – but it broke up," said Schweickart, who was piloting the lunar module on Apollo 9, 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 Brazilian Pop artist Romero Britto donated works of art from his "Buzz Aldrin Space Series" to 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.
Aldrin sued two of his adult children and a former trade manager last month, accusing them of abusing his credit cards, transferring money from an account and maligning him dementia. Weeks earlier, Andrew and Jan Aldrin had filed a petition claiming that their 88-year-old father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia and confusion
Andrew and Jan Aldrin and Business Manager Christina Korp are on the Foundation's board this is part of the gala. Aldrin's eldest son, James, is not involved in the lawsuit.
Buzz Aldrin said in a statement that he was not "due to current events regarding my space initiatives, even current legal matters involving the ShareSpace Foundation."
"I founded the ShareSpace Foundation in 1998 to serve individual space travelers promote, "Aldrin added. "The Foundation, in my view, is now being used to promote very different goals."
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."
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