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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  July 19, 2019 4:30am-5:01am BST

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president trump has tried to distance himself from the "send her back" chants directed by his supporters at a black democratic congresswoman, a former refugee, at a north carolina rally on wednesday. the president has claimed he was not happy with the chanting, but video makes it plain he made no attempt to stop it. from the podium he had specifically named ilhan omar and 3 other congresswomen of colour, who have criticised him. the pentagon is saying an american navy ship has shot down an iranian drone that flew within a kilometre of the vessel, in the gulf. iran says it has no knowledge of any missing drone. injune, iran downed a us military drone in the area. ajudge in the us has ruled the financierjeffrey epstein must stay behind bars, until his trial on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy, because he poses a flight risk. he denies the charges.
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now on bbc news, 50 years from the successful apollo 11 mission, stephen sackur is in florida to speak to one of its astronuats, michael collins. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. this year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable feats of exploration in the history of humankind. the apollo 11 mission which landed man on the moon. i'm in florida to meet one of the crewmembers. while neil armstrong and buzz aldrin were setting foot on the moon's surface, michael collins was piloting the command module which got them all home. 50 years on, how does he reflect on the significance of that extraordinary mission?
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michael collins, welcome to hardtalk. thank you very much, stephen. this year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic apollo 11 mission which you were a key part of. it means the spotlight is back on that mission and back on you. how do you feel about that? there were three of us, of course, on that flight. neil armstrong, buzz aldrin and i. three very lucky people. neil armstrong was born in 1930. buzz aldrin in 1930, mike collins in 1930. three quite different people. neil armstrong did not like the spotlight. buzz aldrin does like the spotlight. mike collins does not like — with all due respect, sir — mike collins does not
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like the spotlight either. and yet here we are and we will talk about what happened in 1969. do you talk about it with an enduring sense of pride? very much so. i was very proud of the job that the three of us did getting us to and from the moon. the trip is a long and fragile daisychain and the links are very fragile and we were able to keep them all intact and do ourjob properly. but more than the three of us, there were almost 400,000 americans working on project apollo and i thank them. they're the ones who don't get recognised. i want to take you back quite some time before the mission, before those amazing pictures of the footsteps on the moon. i want to take you back
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tojohn f kennedy pledging to invest whatever it took to get american men onto the moon in 1961, i guess. and within the decade, he said, we will make it happen. absolutely. did you, at the time when he said that, did you think that "that's me. i will do whatever i can to be part of that?" no, i did not. whenjohn f kennedy made that famous speech, a man on the moon by the end of the decade, i was struggling with equations of motion in test pilot school at edwards air force base and the notion of flying to the moon was far beyond my ken. once i did join the space programme and become part of apollo, as the months went by, i thanked john f kennedy more and more because the stark simplicity of his mandate was wonderfulfor us.
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we could quotejohn kennedy and we could get things done. we could accelerate people. we could tell people we need to have this by the day after tomorrow and the kennedy mandate, the simplicity of it, the stark beauty of it, really helped us along to that moment. did you feel you were part of some sort of cold war contest? we should not forget that kennedy's commitment was in part driven by a preoccupation with what the soviets were doing in the sense that the soviets may be getting ahead of americans in the space race. the americans were determined to fight back. did you feel like a cold warrior? a little bit. we were acutely aware of the ussr. we knew we were in a competition with them. but somehow that was behind
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a scrim, behind a screen. it wasn't part of our day—to—day life and i didn't feel like an active competitor. my problems were american problems, trying to get american problem solved. and although we knew we were in this competition, my consciousness at lease was 99% taken with non— soviet affairs or status. ultimately you were chosen for this apollo 11 mission alongside neil armstrong and buzz aldrin. you then spent time training with them, you did the mission with them, it was a feat of enormous ambition and daring and ijust wonder what sort of bonds you forged with those two men? we formed some very strong bonds but actually not really during the flight of apollo 11 or even during the preparatory flight. it was an around the world trip we took after the flight when i came
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to know neil better. during ourtraining, in the first place we had not been a backup crew as most primary crews had been. so we just got to know each other in the six months before the flight, which was a short period of time. further, we were split by function. neil and buzz were primarily off doing lunar module training and i was usually by myself doing command module training. so somewhere along the line i described us as amiable strangers. i did not mean that in a derogatory way but when we were very ha rd—working and day was over we did not party, we did not drive colour co—ordinated corvettes or any of that sort of thing. 0ur noses were to the grindstone.
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we had both come off the gemini programme so we had some experience in space. the gemini programme was a fascinating so much smaller programme and it had more of a local appeal or feeling about it. almost perhaps like an athletic contest of some sort. apollo 11 on the other hand was heavy duty big business. we felt the weight of the world on our shoulders. we were being looked at and examined minutely. we were under a tight time schedule. and amiable strangers we were, in a sense. there is something intensely human about the roles you had. because armstrong and aldrin, as you said, were committed to the landing. they were in the lunar module and they would be the guys, let us be honest, who were gonna get
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the glory of making those footsteps on the moon. you were integral to the mission but you were piloting the command module. you were absolutely crucial to getting them on and off the moon and back home but you were not there and it seems to me it takes a particular kind of man to be committed to the mission and accept that you are not going to get the ultimate glory. did you see it that way? i certainly thought that i did not have the best seat of the three on apollo 11. but in all honesty i can say that i was thrilled with the seat i did have. i knew that i had somehow lucked into being one third of the team that was going to do this wonderful thing and my function suited me fine. yeah, sure, i would have preferred to walk on the moon but that really seemed a trivial distinction at the time. i was pleased with my
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responsibilities. people have said that yours was the loneliestjob that human being could ever have because while they went off, both of them together in the module to make that landing you were orbiting the moon in the command module. and for a substantial chunk of every orbit you were completely isolated from all of humankind because you were on the far side of the moon, out of all contact with humanity. no human being has ever been more isolated than you were. so what? so what did you make of that experience? what impact did that have upon you? when i returned to earth i was amazed because most of the questions to me from the press centred on "you were the loneliest man in the whole lonely orbit as you orbited around the lonely
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planet on a lonely evening." i felt, on the other hand, quite comfortable in my happy little home inside the command module columbia. i had been flying aeroplanes by myself for a number of years so the fact that i was aloft by myself was not anything new. i was very comfortable. and yet there was an awful responsibility on your shoulders because you were the guy who had to make sure that aldrin and armstrong got back to the spacecraft that was going to get you all home. and you didn't know whether the lunar module would really work when it left the moon's surface. you did not know if armstrong and aldrin would make it back to you. ijust wonder if in your mind you had a plan for what you would do if things went wrong? you have hit upon the part of the flight that i worried about the most which was,
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i thought that neil and buzz would go on down and have a successful landing and a lot of our equipment was duplicated. but when it came to their return to me they had one engine, one engine bell, one combustion chamber and that had to work perfectly to lift them back to my orbit. i had around my neck an 8x10 notebook which had in it 18 different possibilities for how we would bring those two vehicles back together. if everything went according to textbook it was fairly simple and something that we had practised over and over in a simulator. did you ever think of what it would mean for you if you had to return to earth without them? absolutely, but only in the most abbreviated form. first, i was not going to commit suicide — i would be coming home by myself, i would be a marked man for the rest
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of my life, i knew that. i did not dwell on that but i was aware of that fact. did you, as other astronauts have discussed, and back in 1969 there were very few men who had had that experience that you were having of seeing the blue planet from space. did that change your view of humanity, of our place in the universe? yes, i believe it did. and if there is any part of the flight of apollo 11 that sticks in my memory, it is the memory of a little tiny thing that you could obscure with your thumbnail. blue and white — the white of clouds, the blue of the ocean. just a trace of land, gorgeous and very shiny, bright background, totally black. i will remember that all my life.
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and it leads one to consider well... is it so pretty? is it so quiet, is it so pristine? for some reason the word fragile came up out of the murk somehow. i don't know how but i thought, god, it is a fragile little thing, isn't it? in the 50 years since you had that special view of our planet, do you think we human beings have respected and understood that fragility? no. no i don't think so. when we flew to the moon the population of the earth was about 2 billion and it is sneaking up now on eight billion and that growth is willy—nilly without any consideration for the support that additional number of people require from the resources of the earth. i don't think we ever consider that. let me ask you, if i may, a personal
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question about the return to earth. perhaps you were, at that time in 1969, the three most famous men on the planet. you had achieved something that men, that mankind have dreamt about for so long and you had to live with it. and yet afterwards it cannot have been easy to handle both the adulation and the intense focus and spotlight upon you. buzz aldrin has been open about the difficulties he had in coming to terms with it. he said i have been to the moon. i had travelled around but what on earth was i going to do next? did you have a feeling like that as well? not really, i bailed out of the space programme before apollo was over. i felt that the first lunar landing had fundamentally done whatjohn f.
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kennedy had asked us to do. i went on to do otherjobs, next i was assistant secretary of state, later i was director of the national air and space museum. let me interrupt, because both of those extremely important jobs with a great deal of responsibility, but if you had stayed, i think most people who know nasa well think there is little doubt that you could have commanded your own apollo mission, you may well have stood a chance in the years that came to have walked on the moon yourself, and you walked away from that possibility. why? 0h, a whole host of reasons, some of them professional, some of them personal. i think the personal one that probably weighed more heavily on me than the professional ones was my wife pat had put up with my ridiculous career, being a jet fighter pilot, a test pilot, this loony astronaut thing, whatever it was, and that required long hours, a lot of time away from home, and the time away from home frequently was, it was stuffed into a simulator and i was sick
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and tired of being stuffed into a simulator. and ifelt that i had upheld my end of the bargain with nasa, i did not feel like i owed nasa anything, nor did they owe me anything. but any regrets at all that you did not pursue that opportunity? sure, sure, but, you know, my luck had ended and this was the time for it and yeah, sure, but did i look back and when my good, good friend, gene cernan stepped out onto the lunar surface, did i feel a sense of green envy? no. why did you think that could have been me? i maybe thought that, but i wasn't green with envy
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or anything like that. it was not a strong feeling, no. i made my decision, i was happy with my decision, ihada... i was now living in washington, dc with a decentjob, my wife, my family situation was good. so, i had no cause for any great regret. as you say, you, for a while, were the director of the air and space museum. you stayed very closely tied to the world of space exploration, you have watched nasa at close quarters. do you think after the apollo programme was wound up, do you think nasa, in a sense, lost its way? the development of the space shuttle, those missions to the space station, space lab, they seemed to lose momentum with the notion of pushing forward with manned exploration? do you think that they made a big mistake?
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i don't think nasa lost its way, so much as nasa lost its money, and there's an important distinction there. i think nasa sort of wobbled along, they were not quite sure what to do after apollo. they did a space station, an abbreviated form of one, and then they created the shuttle. i think those were important and useful steps, they weren't as dramatic, they didn't excite the american people and interest in the space programme decreased, but i think that was perhaps inevitable after apollo was over. let's talk about mars. you have always been a passionate advocate of the need for humans to push a mission to mars, but there are so many challenges involved in a mars mission. it would take so long, at least two years. do you see a commitment, not least among america's politicians,
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to invest what it would need to get human beings to mars? the financing of space ventures has changed somewhat in that it is not only a taxed government project, mars, but some private money is being thrown in by people such as elon musk. are you comfortable with that? with the notion that america's richest billionaires, and you mentioned elon musk, we could talk aboutjeff bezos as well, are you comfortable with a sort of climate in space exploration where they seem more committed to pushing the boundaries, the frontiers than the us government? no, well, i think the us government should welcome their money in, sure. if they want to throw in $1 billion here and $1 trillion here, well, bless them. i don't see that there's anything wrong with having... once you are in a spacecraft, you are not sure who paid for the thing that you are up in, the fact is that you are there,
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that you are adding to the possible reality of a trip to mars a little bit sooner than if you relied solely on appropriated funds. isn't the truth, though, that if we, the human species, are serious about the next phase of space exploration, which will be mindbogglingly expensive and extraordinarily technologically challenging, it can only happen if there's collaboration between all of the biggest powers, that is the united states, china and russia? i think we have to find a way to co—operate. i remember so vividly the trip that the three of us took after the flight of apollo the 11, and we were surprised that everywhere we went, every city we visited, we were not greeted with oh well, you americans finally did it, we were greeted with we did it, we, humanity, we human beings have put ourselves, our talents together, and we have done it. and i think that we have to build on that spirit, which was ephemeral.
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but xijinping, the president of china, not so long ago talked about china's space stream. we sawjust a few months ago, the chinese with a remarkably detailed, technical achievement, putting a rover on the other side of the moon, something that hadn't been done before. i mean, there are people in washington, dc extremely nervous about chinese intentions in space. do you think they've got a point? well, the chinese, i think, certainly pose a problem. i think the fact that they landed on the back side of the moon is not an extraordinary technological achievement, but some of the things that they may learn there will be extraordinary. some of the minerals, for example, that can be mined from the backside and brought back will be very,
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very valuable and — and i think... so, we in the united states, have to worry more about china as a competitor. how we overcome that, i don't know. i don't think we do it by increased tariffs, i think we have to somehow get the chinese and the russians, who inhabit this little, tiny, fragile, little planet, tojoin with us in friendly, not hostile space ventures. and when history books are going to be written, maybe centuries from now, when we look back at the arc of human achievement over a very long time span, where do you think landing on the moon, putting men on the moon, and seeing them walk on the moon will sit in terms of milestones achieved by our species? i think two flights were very important, apollo 8 and apollo 11.
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apollo 8, which did not land on the moon but was the first human vehicle to exceed escape velocity, it was very important, but perhaps as important as apollo 11. apollo 8 was about leaving, apollo 11 was about arriving. 100 years from now, i'm not sure which historians would be prevalent in an argument, whether it is more important that we left or more important that we arrived. i think both of those were monumental achievements, and they will be remembered as we proceed towards what i hope is mars, and if we can do, we can leave one and arrive in another, i think we can do the same thing. although i may contradict myself and say that i think the first
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flight to mars may be intentionally a one—way flight, so it would be leaving only and not leaving and arriving. mike collins, i thank you very much for being on hardtalk. it's been a pleasure talking to you. thank you. thank you, stephen, bbc is my favourite. hello there. if you're hoping for warm weather, it might be worth sticking around until the end of this forecast, but in the meantime, some soggy weather to get through during the day ahead. this frontal system sliding in from the south—west,
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this is going to bring some outbreaks of pretty heavy rain northwards across many parts of the uk, and with that, a brisk breeze. that rain very quickly getting into south—west england and the south of wales through the morning. many other spots starting the day dry and clear, but through the rush hour, some very heavy rain falling across parts of the west country and particularly south wales. could well be some surface water and spray on the roads, some very poor travelling conditions, perhaps some disruption. but as we drift further north, across northern england, northern ireland and scotland, many places starting the day dry, with some spells of sunshine. 1a degrees there in glasgow, just a scattering of showers across the north of scotland. now, as we go through the day, this band of rain, perhaps with the odd flash of lightning, the odd rumble of thunder, will move its way northwards across the midlands, east anglia, up into northern england, clipping into northern ireland, getting into southern scotland, perhaps into the central belt by the middle of the afternoon. some showers chasing on from the south. the best of the dry weather,
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albeit with one or two showers, across northern scotland. some sunny spells here, temperatures of 19—21 degrees. now, on the southern flank of this rain band, there could be some thunderstorms breaking out across the far north of england, the far south of scotland through friday evening. another batch of wet weather sliding across southern parts of england. generally speaking, across the south—east of the uk, it's going to be a pretty muggy night, a muggy start to saturday morning. a little cooler and fresher across the north—west. now, the main body of the wet weather tied in with this frontal system here will be sliding eastwards as we get into saturday, but low pressure still very much in charge. so yes, there will be some spells of sunshine, but also a scattering of showers, and some of those could be heavy, could be thundery, could crop up just about anywhere, but especially for central and eastern areas. temperatures 20—21; degrees, beginning to creep upwards again. split fortunes on sunday — england and wales having a predominantly dry day, increasing amounts of cloud, some sunny spells, but we'll see rain across northern ireland spreading into the western side of scotland. temperatures down towards the south
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may be into the middle 20s at this stage, but they will climb a little higher, i suspect, because early next week, heat will really be building across iberia and france. some spots up to a0 degrees, and that heat looks like getting drawn into at least the southern half of the uk. some spots into the low 30s celsius, but further north, it'll be cooler, and more unsettled as well.
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this is the briefing — i'm victoria fritz. our top stories: the pentagon says us forces have shot down an iranian drone as it approached an american ship in the gulf. president trump tries to distance himself from the racist chanting, targeting a democratic congresswoman, at wednesday's campaign rally. but another democrat remains unimpressed. we remains unimpressed. will not go back to the days injustice we will not go back to the days of injustice to we will not rollback oui’ injustice to we will not rollback our rights. we will not go back, we will go forward. we went there 50 years ago — never to return again. we look at the historic importance of the moon landing, on the eve of its anniversary. beating expectations. microsoft unveils upbeat results driven mainly by its azure cloud services.


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