tv Remembering the Apollo 11 Mission CSPAN May 5, 2019 6:30pm-7:49pm EDT
>> former nasa astronaut michael collins was part of the apollo 11 crew that landed the first man on the moon. next on american history tv, a talk with mr. collins about his experiences in space, the historical significance of the mission, and space travel today. the national press club host this luncheon. it's about an hour and 15 minutes. >> hello and welcome to the national press club and to another addition of the kalb report. our program tonight is a conversation with astronaut michael collins. 50 years ago, the united states sent apollo 11 to the moon, and for the first time in history, human beings stepped on the moon , leaving a footprint and a flag as proof.
it was a stunning achievement. mr. kennedy: we choose to go to the man in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard. >> 60 seconds and counting. we are go for apollo 11 at this time. >> good night, good luck, and god bless all of you on the good earth. 5, 4, three, two. >> the eagle has landed. manhat's one small step for
, one giant leap for mankind. >> our guest tonight, general michael collins, was the command module pilot on apollo 11. he was actually up there. his two colleagues were neil armstrong and buzz aldrin. walk onb was simply to the moon. and while they did, collins had moonke care and circle the , even the dark side of the moon, where no communication was possible, and prepare the module to recover his two colleagues, and then for all of them to return to the earth safely. piece of cake. [laughter] three years earlier in 1966, collins was in space on gemini 10 where twice he walked in space.
i am told that something no other human being has ever done. connected to the spaceship by a 45 foot umbilical cord. i understand he had trouble getting back into the spaceship .nd had to be helped before becoming an astronaut in 1963, collins was an air force .est pilot he comes from a family dedicated to military service. his father was an army general. two of his uncles, a brother, and a brother, and cousin also served. ineral collins, i am sure speak for everyone here at the national press club when i say we are truly honored to have you with us, and by your performance on the apollo 11 mission. now, so much has been written and said about apollo 11, i doubt there is anything new to add. however, i am going to put that
on you. that in threewer ways. no general, just mike. old mike, if you want to be formal. and if you really want to get into it, lucky old mike. >> but what i am interested in is, when you think back over , what was the one moment, the one word, the fraser the action that you will never, never forget -- phrase or action that you will never, never ?orget quick strangely enough, it was not the alien object, the moon, which we were seeing at close range for the first time, rather, it was looking back over our shoulder at planet earth.
it was about the size of your thumbnail. you could get rid of it if you put your thumb in your pocket. but it kept popping back into view. and demanding that you pay it attention. the feeling i got from it were the normal things you would expect. the glittering sunshine, the white of the clouds, the blue of , a tiny smear of rust that we call continents, but , i got ag all of that feeling of great fragility. i had a feeling i was looking at something very, very fragile. the earth itself. a tiny,e earth itself,
fragile thing. the velvet of space surrounded it for a millennial or whatever that funny distance is from there to there. but that's what i recall, the tiny earth, the fragile, fragile tinier that we all enjoy without really thinking about it. that we all enjoy without really thinking about it. somewhere along the line i think i said houston, i have the world in my window. i was seeing something for the first time. ,nd when you think about that all of us can have the world and our window. incan all look at the world a slightly different way, a more benign, more benevolent, more you starte way, but the process with that's my world
in my window. that's my world. were firstyou thinking about being an astronaut, was it rockets on your mind? mike: buck rogers and i explored the caverns of mongo when john glenn was just in knickers. and i think we did it very successfully. host: i'm sure. this interview, i did a lot of reading about you . one of the things that came up was an interview you did about 10 years ago in which you admitted to feeling what you called a secret terror that you would have to leave your colleagues on the moon and return to earth without them, and that forever after, as you yourself put it, you would be a marked man.
to me, the idea of you as a marked man i don't accept, but why was there this secret terror ? mike: well, the flight to and from the moon is a long and fragile daisy chain of events. -- any link wrong and the chain is useless. to fly the knew how machine extraordinarily well. i knew he would find a safe landing spot. host: that machine being the eagle. and went your capsule into the eagle. mike: i am in a 60 mile orbit and the two of them are descending.
we went over every mechanical component that was important to us. .owever, i was up above the eagle was the one on the surface. had one little engine bell, one little ignition short, and that worried me. it was such an obvious fragile link in this daisychain, and if couldn't get up, they were dead and i was coming home. it was something that kept me up at night. host: did you ever sleep when you were up there circling the moon? mike: whenever possible. it was kind of noisy. mission control is yakking all the time. any time i had behind the moon was kind of a blessing. i sort of enjoy hip hair. enjoyed it back
there. [laughter] ort: was the module quiet was it shaky? mike: it didn't shake. it shook a little bit, depending on the circumstances. but quiet, yes, it was. to,inery you are accustomed pumps and valves opening and closing, that kind of stuff, nothing abnormal. pretty much what you would expect in the cockpit of an airplane. armstrong once described the chances of success of apollo 11 is no more than 50-50. are those odds you think are accurate? i guess so. i think it depends on exactly how you define success. it was our first time trying to
do this kind of thing. i thought our chances of bringing it often every little came up with about the same number, 50-50. now, the chances of saving our cks were much higher than that and i never wanted to put numbers on that. host: charles lindbergh, known for many things, not all of them good, did know how to fly. he said what you experience flying on the backside of the moon, cut off from communication with houston and earth, was, in his words, to experience the loneliness unknown to man. but you have said you were not lonely at all. you said you felt anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation. lindbergh,gin with,
his flight and the flight of apollo 11 were much different in many ways. his was much tougher in many ways. he was all by himself, had no one to talk to war help him out, tell him to go left or right, north or south. he could not sleep. he would crash into the ocean. he had bad weather all along. he had a tough time, much tougher than we had. we were catered to by a team of experts on the ground who gave .s assistance here and there we had a chance to train more than lindbergh did. we were a more precise enterprise doing the things we had been trained to do as unknownto this real unknown of charles lindbergh's. host: were you at any time frightened in space?
i was. cannot say fright is a strange thing. what's frightening is driving down the highway over the speed limit and some becomes the other way and all of a sudden -- somebody comes the other way and all of a sudden they are in your lane. i had in aexperience spacecraft. what i had was a worry. landing.rom takeoff to like i said, it's a fragile daisy chain, and each link that remains unbroken, you cannot really pat yourself on the back because you have the next one coming up. you can never really relax because all the stuff that's going well, you go 41 seconds to go and i have to turn the ignition on and it had better work. there is always something in front of you that makes you
worry. the: one more crucial than other or literally one connected to the other? mike: i keep calling it a daisychain. that's maybe not a good analogy but it gets the idea across. some of the links were not fatal. some broke things down stream. instead of landing on the moon, you could go around the edge of the moon and still survive, but there were plenty of hazardous's along the way. because yousking did have trouble getting back into gemini 10. what i read is that you were floating around, walking around in space, and when you were trying to get back -- what was the trouble? mike: we had a whole series of troubles on gemini 10, but none of them too life-threatening.
other than that you were floating around in space. [laughter] ass: not floating, going over teakettle in space. [laughter] a circular path was hopefully going to take me around this, which i hoped not to get and snarled with, so i could get back to gemini and get into the cockpit. didier cope -- did your copilot have to drag you in? he was in a flying formation. he was down here. my problem was we had not designed our target to be grabbed. it was just an auxiliary rocket. we had a package on the side of
it and my job was to remove the package. every time i would touch the dam thing, i would go swerving off some where. it was just poor design, poor in theg on our parts months before launch. we needed handholds everywhere you wanted to go. in space, you were you had specific assignments. the 49 foot umbilical cord would stretch out 49 feet. did you have something to do at 49 feet? -- i i had something to do don't know if it was 27 feet or 63 feet, but john young is flying the gemini up to the side of a variable distance. you cannot keep a precise 49 foot distance. i had to leave the cockpit, push
off, go over to the end and work my way around the side and grabbed the experiment package. that is when i slipped and fell. to second time, i was able grab the package and returned to the cockpit. no big deal. host: no. [laughter] mike: all right, a medium-sized deal then. host: you want said that the of the worldders could see the planet from a distance of 100 thousand miles, their outlook could be fundamentally changed. i would love for some of our political leaders right now to be 100,000 miles away in space. but even if this were possible and the political leaders were capable of looking down, how do
you think they would change? why would they be changed? , you in the first place have the border between uruguay and ecuador. is there such a border? yes, it's vitally important to both sides. you can't see it. you can't find that border. that changes your perspective a little bit. side, sun shines on one it does on the other. no one can control that. there are a few things we can but mostere on earth are beyond our human capability to change. when you get far enough away from the earth, you discover fewer and fewer things we can change using our present system of trying to change things and if you want to do anything about this tiny little fragile object, you have to first of all amend
your own thinking about it. host: thank you very much for that. [applause] apollo 11, those of us of a certain age can remember it happened in the middle of the cold war. the russians had just shot a bleeping, unmanned vehicle called sputnik at the tail end of 1967 into space, and for a moment, it seemed to a lot of people that the russians were way ahead of us in space. you were at that time right in the middle of your training to be an astronaut. i wonder if you were conscious of the superpower competition, that you felt yourself in a porton part of it. were yes, most astronauts military officers. we were well aware of the
antipathy between the united states and the soviet union. we were not in a top-secret circuit to find out day by day or week by week what they were doing over there, but we knew they had a very powerful background from the point of view of space history. there were two astronauts who were about equivalent, you might say. we knew that russia was our competitors. day-to-day life, getting up in the morning to go to work, we had enough on our plate to not have to worry about what was on the russians played at the type -- time. yes, we knew about them, but it was like looking at them through a scrim, you might say, or some sort of filter. that you might remember walter cronkite was deeply
involved in the space program and cared about it a lot. -- i wonder if the moscow correspondent cared as much. we cared at cbs so much about putting it a global context, that we would fly to cape and compare it to the russian. did you have a feeling of being behind? mike: that's a good question and i don't have a good answer. i think there were times when we even stephen, may be behind . toward the latter years, i felt we were surging ahead. being 1969, the year of the first lunar landing, but
1966,d say going back to we started feeling better about ourselves. earlier on, it was less optimistic, more pessimistic. did you feel at that time that you were getting enough support from congress and the american people? was the political world of america providing you not only with rhetoric but the money to do it? would answer this not just in terms of political systems but political leaders. most and portly john f. kennedy, as we saw in your preview. john f. kennedy said we are going to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth .y the end of the decade
a master of simplicity in that statement. i don't think you could get a politician today to utter a statement without using 10 times as many words. masterpiece of simplicity gave us our marching orders. told us what to do and when to do it. how you do it is up to us. and that is what we spent days working very diligently at. but as we went through, we used kennedy -- hey, you guys have to get on the ball. time is running out. get with it. it was a wonderful, wonderful mandate he had from the wasident, and i think it probably more than any one single factor that allowed us to in 1969 more than the
soviets or anything else. feel that american technology was absolutely top-of-the-line stuff? don't know. i didn't have a feeling that i was well-qualified enough to evaluate the technology at that time. i think we were on the right track. we did have terrible mistakes, paramount the fire aboard apollo one that killed three people. that was the culmination of a lot of stupidities. six months later, you are maybe smarter, but maybe not that much smarter. you think you have a good thing going and you think the technology is there to serve you
, but you have that lingering doubt in the background. host: let me take a moment to identify us for the audience. this is the kalb report and i am talking with astronaut mike collins on the 50th anniversary of the apollo mission to the moon. you have written that we as a like exploring, expanding, pushing back the frontier and that in small but significant ways, space has defined our character. asked three simple but i think terribly important questions. asking many of us are them these days as well. those three questions were, what kind of country are we? what do we stand for?
what do we want to be in the next century? i would like to ask you these questions in a more modern-day context. what kind of country are we today and what is it that we stand for now? mike: aspiration is a large part of who we are, who we have been, and who we will be in the future. i can't say it's an overriding component of our civilization, i like to go out in the middle of a dark night and look up. i am a junkie. i am mesmerized by it. i don't know what i'm looking at half the time but i know that i don't want to live with a lid over my head. i like to think we have been
all of civilization so far and we will continue to be. we explored land, desert, we had --rightt brothers w brothers, oneight advance in space aviation after another. been happy tove live peacefully in their own secluded valley and never go beyond its borders. that's very rare. i think people in general want to go, to see, to touch, to smell, to understand, wherever that might be. on the surface of the planet, above it, way above it, to the moon, beyond the moon, to mars. i think it's within us -- not a need, but a will, a desire to
explore. beyond exploration, which ,ou very elegantly discuss those original questions really struck me. what kind of country are we and what we stand for? do you believe that now, as compared to 50 years ago when apollo 11 went up, that the same elliptical principles, the same ethical standards govern our -- the political principles, same ethical standards govern our lives now as they did then? guy, you are asking an old an old geezer. looking at today's political parties and so forth -- are you
out of your mind? think these are extraordinarily interesting times politically, and i think we are doing all right considering the noise out there is incredible. aeryone it seems like is of -- not an opinion, but a strong opinion. and the further out you can get with left or right with those , the loudere more the voices seem to become. this dissonance going on in the country today -- up to a point it's good, but beyond that point, i believe it's harmful. thatho is to decide what dividing line is? ,ar be it from me to say that but i think the political situation today is more confusing than it has ever been. i can locate someone who
believes in something a little left or a little right or i can find you maybe half a dozen nutballs who are way over here and all around, and when you put them all together and stir the with?hat do you end up i think it's a pretty healthy situation. it's not comfortable sometimes. it's uncomfortable now in many ways, but i think it's probably, on balance, healthy. host: may i ask you a political question? michael and i don't know. -- mike: i don't know. [laughter] host: i mean, i have to. president trump responsible for any of this? in your opinion, what is the role of the president? mike: um. to othercould go on things. i don't mean to jump on that.
we could go back to space. ore: i am not here to defend assault trump. i have very strong feelings they it, but deal are particularly helpful. i will touch on one tiny aspect of it. that -- i am glad you had this invitation to come here to this building, to this organization. marvin: the national press club. mike: yeah, i'm sorry. but it is the headquarters of the enemy. [laughter] [applause] enemy is a phrase the president has used. maybe i misunderstood, but
aren't you the enemy? marvin: we don't think of ourselves as that. we don't think of ourselves as that. mike: the enemy, my ass. [applause] mike: the press is not our enemy, the press is our salvation, and i thank you for it. [applause] marvin: let's go back to space. [laughter] think that we you are in a race with russia for the control of space? think the russian leadership, putin, will probably do whatever he can do to make
the soviet union -- or whatever it is called today, russia, more important. and if he includes some space trips in that, i think he will espouse them. i don't think that is his primary thing. i think the chinese tend to be more space oriented today than does russia or perhaps the united states. if you are looking for competition, i would worry a little bit more about the chinese than i would about russians. mike: recently, the chinese -- marvin: recently, the chinese landed a vehicle on the dark side of the moon. could you explain to us, why is that important? mike: the fact that they landed on the backside of the moon just years after we landed on the front side of the moon, i don't think that is any big deal at all. it is a minor achievement. future of that
achievement may bear all kinds of fruit long-term. metals in somere of those rocks. there is gold, there is platinum, there are things we consider of great economic value. baseey can expand their and get into the mining operation there and figure out how not only to get that ore, refine them on the moon and ship them back to earth, they will have something that is very valuable. how long that will take to ensue, i do not know. marvin: are there all of these minerals only on the dark side and not on the side that we landed on? mike: you would have to ask jack schmidt. from the geologist, phd
m.i.t. or harvard, and he knows about each rock. but from what i recall of my geology training, the flat areas on the front side of the moon, that is where they are predominantly, are pretty much sandy barrens, whereas on the backside of the moon you have much rougher terrain, nooks and crannies and cracks and fissures , and the chemistry of that surface material on the backside of the moon is of much greater interest financially and intellectually than the front side. marvin: why didn't we get to the backside? mike: why didn't we -- i'm sorry? marvin: why didn't we get to the backside of the moon for the chinese? since we had been on the front side so much ahead of them? mike: i guess because our
leadership, for right or wrong, did not think it was worth the money. were voting with them, i would say, so far our leadership, democrats, republicans, whatever, nutballs, whatever -- [laughter] don't think that is a bad decision. if we knew more about how to build larger rockets and people like jeff bezos and elon musk, who are helping us a little bit in that way, it could be that we could get to the backside of the moon and have a soft landing with a big enough machine that would go around and excavate and bring back some all these wonderful ores. but that is something i think is the on the realm of possibility for another decade, or perhaps
more. are we sort of farming to the spacecraft industry the private sector now? is that what is happening with the american space program? mike: i think musk and bezos have discovered ways to do things cheaper and quicker than the federal government has. i think the federal government should say, you might want to throw the money in. why would you possibly say no to it, whether the money is federally appropriated or comes out of their pocketbooks? what i care about is the hardware it produces and not necessarily the source of the funds. the more the merrier, i would say. marvin: but you are suggesting that the hardware from the private sector is better, comes along more quickly, than government hardware? mike: in some cases, yes.
in some cases, no. pioneerede, bezos has the idea of shooting a rocket off, it gets rid of its payload and instead of crashing into the ocean it returns to its launchpad and is reused. so, that is a tremendous cost saving. maybe the feds could have done that as well, but they didn't. they were off doing something else, and he decided that was a very profitable avenue and something of value, whether that reusable rocket is launched by a federal appropriation or out of musk's pocket, it really doesn't matter. marvin: the u.s. government had byrogram, according to which 2028 we would be sending astronauts back to the moon. that, according to the trump administration, has now been dropped to 2024.
isa has said that achievable. --do you agree with that? mike: agree with what? marvin: that we can go back to the moon? do it by 2024? mike: probably not. it would probably take longer than that. i think it depends, go back to the moon and do what? go back to the moon and why? go back to the moon as opposed to going to mars? marvin: exactly. and i was going to say that part by 2024 astronauts returned to the moon, they set up shop so that it becomes a refueling stop for the trip to mars. just the erratically, that makes sense, right -- just
theoretically, that makes sense, right? or you have talked about going directly from earth to mars on a large elliptical loop. which is better? mike: what you are talking about is a change of vocabulary. the plan now is nasa's official moon,to go back to the and you create a pathway, which is a very elongated elliptical orbit pointed outward mars. buildup approach. vessels working in and out of that pathway and they are refueling here. andeling there in the lunar of the pathway -- the lunar end of the pathway and resuscitated with supplies from earth. i say no.
there are a lot of caveats in my notes. the big one, neil armstrong, he died before all these details were put together, but in the conversations i had with him, he did deal that perhaps there were feelat she did f -- he did there were so many unknowns that it made sense to fill in some of these gaps in our knowledge around the moon before you went. neil was a lot better of an engineer than i am, i guarantee you that. that is certainly a credible approach, and that seems to be the one that is most popular today. i say no. i go with john f. kennedy, and i would take the jfk direct. i think if you want to go to mars, you decide to put your chips in there and develop the hardware and go and do it. it is not simple. it is about a two year voyage.
ake: a two-year -- marvin: two-year? to do what? mike: to go from the surface of the earth to mars with a spacecraft and return that crew to earth. marvin: it would take two years? mike: about two years. marvin: apollo 11 took eight days. mike: apollo is child's play compared to going to mars. marvin: if you were to use mars as a launching pad, in a way, a refueling stop, the astronauts on mars need oxygen. how do you provide that? a constanthere threat of radiation poisoning? mike: they have all kinds of problems, the people who go to mars. planet out from the sun, mercury, venus, earth,
mars. they are side-by-side, they are twins, if you will, the closest thing we have to a sister planet. there are aess, couple hundred million miles separated. and they are in different sorts of orbits around the sun. that is the cheapest in terms of fuel expenditures is called a home and transfer. it takes about nine months one way. unfortunately once you get there, you cannot turn around and come home, because the planets have rearranged their orientation. you may have to wait for a year or so on the surface until they are in proper alignment. marvin: on the surface of what? mike: on mars. you land on mars, you try to get home. the total trip, i am saying, the first timeout is going to be a -- excuse me.
it is going to be a voyage of around two years. 80 two years is an intern when it comes -- an eternity when it comes to spacecraft malfunctions. you have to be independent of anybody like mission control. you cannot have any crew compatibility problems, you cannot have illnesses, fatal illnesses. you are the subject to a great deal of radiation. problems a host of facing anybody who wants to go to mars. it is going to be very, very difficult. marvin: what kind of timeframe are we talking about? even if it worked perfectly, the daisy chain was operated perfectly? mike: i don't know.
i have thought about this jfk direct approach, and say to land a crew of men and women on mars by so and so and return them safely to earth. and the so and so i would put in there would be about 2040, something like that. marvin: another 20 years out. mike: that is what i would guess. you have a lot of people guessing who are a lot better at that stuff than i am. that would be my guess. marvin: in your judgment, is the move profitable? -- is the moon profitable? mike: the moon? sure, the moon is habitable, but you have to bring your own oxygen. it depends on how you define habitable. [laughter] mike: sometimes i think my house is not habitable. [laughter] mike: so, i am not sure about the moon. but by and large, it can be made habitable. marvin: you touched on what i am
about to ask you before, but i want to nail it down. vice president pence has been put in charge essentially of the space program for this administration. he used very dramatic mobile language in a recent speech. he said, "the united states must remain first in space in the century -- in this century, as in the last." rules and, "the values of space will be written by those with the courage to get there first and the commitment to stay." you implied earlier in our that we were, for a time, first. last century, the 20th century. but not all the time. would you say that in the 20th century, we were first for most of that period of time?
most of it? mike: yes. marvin: what do you think? mike: yeah, but that is part of the question. marvin: what i am trying to get at, one, is the vice president right when he says that we were first in the last century, and in this? and i ask the question because there is a space station out there now that is a russian space station. we use it. we have people who go up there. so it doesn't seem as if we are number one. it seems as if we are renting out space on the guy who is number one. the idea that we are first doesn't make any sense. am i right? mike: i don't know. i am going to dodge the question and -- marvin: that happened before. [laughter] mike: i am going to answer one that is first cousin to it. i was a military officer.
we landed apollo 11 on the moon. we had an american flag, we saluted. i was extremely proud of that, extremely. i thought that was just a wonderful manifestation not only of a president like john f. kennedy, but a technological base, industrial base that could do that. encyclopedia of things i thought was wonderful about that and made me more and more patriotic. marvin: absolutely. mike: to be a citizen of the united states of america. about a few months after that, neil armstrong, buzz aldrin, and i were very lucky. sent around the earth and revisited 27 cities. not all of them c these, but most of them. big, large cities. and i was really amazed by the reception that we received.
it was a unanimous reception. no naysayers. saying, you americans finally did it, didn't you? you landed on the moon. -- also, we did it they all said, we did it. we did it. human beings, we left our home planet and we went elsewhere. masterl armstrong was a in that environment. he was a very intelligent man. he had done a tremendous amount of homework. he had hobbies and knowledge far beyond the nasa space program, he was a historian of science primarily. he had a way, no matter where he went, of talking to the locals in their terms, reflecting some of their situations, their problems, and almost just
welcoming them. you could feel them. -- he came in the door of columbia and wanted to fly with us. he was a master of that. but ding, ding, there is the american flag on the moon, i salute it. there is the whole world saying to us, we did it. we, humanity. so where do you put your values? what do you say? marvin: i am all for it. [laughter] [applause] marvin: i wish i were with you. mike: fair is fair. marvin: i wish i were with you. mike: you what? marvin: i wish that i were with you. but i would probably screw it up, so it is just as well. you watched this throughout your 90% -- 10% planning and 90% lock. is that right? marvin: yeah. maybe more luck than 90%.
definitely. i have a strange background. i went with all my army background, my uncle being chief of staff, my brother is a general, my dad was a general. when they were not looking, i snuck off into the air force and learned how to fly an airplane, and i became a fighter pilot. when nasa was first looking for astronauts, i was stationed over in france. and over there, we used to get all the air force fighter wings. and would assemble a team, each one of them would send a team down to tripoli, libya. and we would practice dropping atom bombs on the russians. we would have competition.
marvin: say that again? [laughter] mike: we would practice dropping atom dbombs.. you know, the boom boom. [laughter] marvin: how did you practice them? mike: we practiced with shapes. they were under the wing, and they were the length and diameter of a real atom bomb, but they were phonies. marvin: glad to hear that. [laughter] mike: the interior of them was wired so that in the caulk it you would go -- in the cockpit you would go through the routine of how you armed them and disarmed them. the point i am making, when you have a big competition down there, and they had two different ways of dropping these bombs. one was called toss bombing. them ont to drop you you, ig go -- two trophiesthe
that year in 1956, and i think that was the only reason i got in to the test pilot school. my bosses were very happy and wrote flowery letters and blah, blah. but the point i am getting too, that is damn luck. that is -- [laughter] night and i up at wonder, what the hell went wrong with the second one? i did everything perfectly, and it somehow went off to the side. to this day, it bothers me. i don't know how it did, but it did. marvin: i am glad that you then became a test pilot. pilotthen i got to test school, and one thing led to another. marvin: just a little bit of mathematics. i looked it up, and you were born in 1930. mike: yes. marvin: and i was born in 1930.
mike: and neil armstrong was born in 1930. marvin: and buzz aldrin was born in 1930. that makes you 80 eight years old. mike: jesus, that that? bad? [laughter] marvin: and if i was born in 1930, i am also 88 years old. [applause] marvin: do you think we could make a deal right now that when we reach our 90th birthday, you will come back and be my guest on another "the kalb report"? is that a deal? mike: yeah, sounds like a good deal to me. [applause] let me just tell you -- i could go on with this guy forever, but i won't. we will wait until we are both 90. the tierney of the clock, as they -- the tyranny of the clock, as they talk about it.
i want to think for the audience at the national press club for their attention. but most important, i want to thank michael collins for taking the time to be with us. [applause] marvin: for sharing his insights and his thoughts about that great moment in american and global history, the idea that people could think about going to the moon, and we did it. we were up there and we landed, people on the moon. it was a great accomplishment, and we are all incredibly proud that you are here as our guest. mike: thank you. [applause] ed murrow used to say many years ago, good night and good luck. [applause] mike: thank you. [applause] nowin: we know our -- we are at that time where we can take questions from you.
i am under the impression there are some students who are going to ask questions, and i will turn right here. could you please identify yourself, tell us where you are? >> my name is anna bowman. i am a journalism student at the university of oklahoma. mr. collins, i was wondering, with your exploration of space, how do you think that helped humanity's understanding of the universe? mike: i'm sorry? marvin: how did your exploration of space in the helping humanity --of space end up helping humanity? mike: one of the things that i think may help is, once upon a time i was flying around in space somewhere and i looked down and i said, hey, houston, i have got the world in my window. and i think if you take that idea and expand it, you can have
the world in your window. it is not something that is exclusive to me, and it is not even exclusive to someone who has gone into space. but you can consider the world in your window, what you think about that world, how you think it might be changed, what part you might play in changing that world, and directions you think are important for you, for your values. i would suggest that to you. marvin: yes, please? touched on this at the very beginning of the program. marvin: can we have your name? >> michael, i am a faculty member and contributor to the yale climate connections. the apollo moon missions were a major impetus for the first environmental movement. do you see any prospects that this four years of the 50th
anniversaries will galvanize that for climate change? marvin: as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the apollo mission, will that have a positive impact on the environment as well? will we help move in that direction? mike: i don't know. i think certainly the space program going elsewhere from other than planet earth has definite environmental implications. but whether it will become popular -- become a popular topic of discussion, you just go nudge someone in the ribs and say, environmental, they do not say space. hooking the two together is worthwhile, but not easy to do. >> i am a member of the press club and a former officer with helped program the
apollo 17 astronauts. i remember where i was on july 1969. i remember seeing people all over the world on the television doing what you had described, seeing this as a triumph for humankind. 1960'smber in the late 60' in antarctica and space, demilitarized and and sharing the development and exploration, my question is where things have been changing as it looks like with our new space force and the chinese and others that we are beginning to think about militarizing space, are we losing the sense that this is something from this fragile little earth in our window where toall have to protect it still competing in an area where we may be putting it in danger? marvin: the major point is, is
there a risk now that we are militarizing space and losing so many other opportunities? mike: the militarization of space is such a complex topic. the most recent developments have been the russians now have -- this is kind of space related and not really. it is atmospheric. velocity,hed a hyper extremely fast missile that can go up into space a bit, or around up there. then they pick a target, and instead of coming down in a ballistic path that is very ,redictable to hit their target jumpnow have one that can this way, that way, that way, and the other, and it can follow a path that deviates from time
to time. it will come down, it will turn, it will go back, it will go up, it will go down. how do you stop something like that? it knows where it is going, and maybe it likes demoing as a target -- des moines as a target. but unlike the old ones, it would have to be programmed in an arc and you could intercept it along a known path, this that itsuch a a path is unstoppable. is that the militarization of space? yeah, i guess it is. you could say it is improving -- improving artillery. -- improving if you don't like the militarization of space as a world. but what do you do about something like that?
out how toto figure talk the russians out of it and encounter it with our own crazy interceptor that can figure out how to do it. a terrible problem, this militarization. not the militarization of space, the militarization of the planet, i would call it more. >> my name is jaclyn arrowsmith. i was wondering if you think going to mars should be a priority? if so, how do we really get their sense space exploration does not seem to be a political priority? marvin: please ask the question again. >> i was asking whether general collins thinks that going to mars should be a priority in terms of space exploration. mike: yeah. , when i came back
from apollo 11 and i had been sent to the wrong place, nasa ought to be renamed the national aeronautic and mars association. all mybeen very pro-mars life, and i still am. i think that is the next logical steppingstone as we go out into space, and i would like to see us pursue a program. i am not sure it has to be a gung ho, right now, you have to do it in the next school year kind of program -- the next fiscal year kind of program. i think it would be a much longer-range goal, but you use a reasonable amount of your gross to take on.duct at the time that we went to the moon, i think the nasa appropriation was a bit over 1%
of gdp, and now it is probably down to less than half of 1%. i think we could put some more money into it. but on the other hand, i am not sure getting there in a hurry is as important as getting there. marvin: excellent point. toi am chris, i was pleased coverage the first shuttle launch as a college journalist. in the 12 years between your lunar mission and the first launch of the shuttle, have we made progress at that same pace? if not, why not? in 38 years since. fast are we going give in the shuttle? marvin: how much progress have we made? mike: the shuttle i think was a wonderful machine, and it could launch vertically like a spacecraft and land horizontally on a runway like an airplane. beautiful machine. unfortunately, it did kill i
think seven people in one accident, and maybe seven in a second, i am not sure. it certainly had its defects. upon that build thel, the vertical takeoff, horizontal airplane landing or not, i don't know. you end up saying, are we going faster or slower or better or worse, building on the shuttle? i don't know. it is a good question. i don't know where we go from there on that. marvin: yes, please? >> my name is david, and i am a former member of the north american aviation program, apollo program management team. it was a delight to meet you on numerous occasions, beautiful downtown downey. i worked for the unsung hero. marvin: i'm sorry, you will have
to ask the question. >> there was a gentleman by the name of harrison storms, who i am sure you know very well. my question to you is the fact that we were grasping for a lot of straws act in the 1960's with respect to the design characteristics of the command module, we were looking initially at the x-15's, and the technologies from the xb-70, and for the lunar excursion model, there were questions with respect to what was asked earlier to leaving astronauts on the moon. the question i have for you is today do we still have the caliber of scientists and engineers that developed the integrated circuits, the types of materials that we are using like, to include people
bolton with respect to how can we gather another team of individuals to pursue the next level of sophistication in space? marvin: thank you, sir. mike: i guess the process of attracting people that work for the government hinges on money, like other things. max, hele who were like was a good example that you pointed out. the man is a genius in his own way. people like max and the teams they headed up, they were young people. they were gung hjpo. they were paid what today would be considered a pittance, but they worked day and night. they did that because they believed in their program, they believed in going to the moon. to get that kind of dedication, particularly among younger ones coming out of college to go into
oroming a government gs3 whatever, that depends on what their goals are. and that is where i think mars comes into it. i think you can marshal a lot of enthusiasm and organize it with an overriding goal of mars, rather than other things like returning to the moon. marvin: ok. yes, please? >> good evening, sir. my name is linda, i am an air force brat, but also a volunteer at the national cathedral. we have some of the rocks you brought back from the moon in our window. when we talk about your mission of apollo 11, we often wonder to ourselves if you have any regrets about not being able to walk on the surface of the moon. you went all that way and did not dip your toe in the sand. marvin: do you have any regrets traveling so far to the moon, not having set foot on the moon? mike: no.
i get asked that an awful lot, and i would be a lia liar or a fool to say i had the best seat on apollo 11. i clearly did not. [laughter] but i can say with absolute honesty, i was delighted to be assigned to that crew. that was the end of kennedy's dream. it was an honor to be any tiny part of that. actually, i came to the crew of apollo 11 from the crew of apollo eight. it was the flight that was the first to leave earth's orbit. did not land on the moon, but went out and around it. i was removed from that crew because i had surgery on my spine.
when i got back on flying status, they made me the capcom, the capsule communicator for apollo 8. what that meant is i was handling commute occasion for mission control. they could not go to the moon without my permission. [applause] -- [laughter] mike: nasa has to give a fancy name to everything. they called this trans lunar injection. they left orbit, zinged off for the first time ever to go yonder escape velocity ash to go beyond escape velocity. send ae is going to message, frank sinatra will sing. [laughter] marvin: and of course -- mike: and of course, frank borman and me, we were going to have this dramatic interchange that is going to encapsulate the historical magnificence of this thing.
so, time came and i went first. to for tli.your go houston. that was it. [laughter] mike: i couldn't believe it. the most remarkable instance in human history, and we said, you are good, and he said, roger. yeah. [laughter] marvin: yes, please? another question? >> my name is lola. do you remember a man that worked with you at the aerospace museum, and i want to thank you for the memories. that man was very happy. and you are a leader. thank you again, and take care of yourself.
mike: thank you, thank you. [applause] marvin: thank you very much. fields from the university of pennsylvania. i am a communications student. i was curious if you could talk abut the recent imaging of the black hole and what that means for space travel and technology in the future? mike: i am not sure i got all of that. i don't hear a word. [laughter] >> i was wondering if you could talk about the imaging of the blackhole. in tothat has come prominence lately. or one "time" magazine of them had an illustration of a blackhole on its cover. me is weng thing to have all these gigantic telescopes, computers you would this gear andll
equipment. black holes, albert einstein figured it out with a blackboard and a piece of chalk. and this gear and what one is, it is a local gravityhere the pull of intensifies, solidifies -- solidifies is not the right word, but intensifies, comes together and creates a funnel into which objects can fall, never to return. the gravitational pull of the whole is such that it only sucks things in, and eventually they disintegrate. exactly why, i do not know. -- it is gravitational gravity going wild, i guess i would say. or gravity going to infinity, you might say, is a better way of describing a blackhole.
amazing, and most amazing of all is albert einstein. [laughter] marvin: thank you. another question? >> my name is sarah murphy, and i was wondering, do you think pluto should be a planet? [laughter] [applause] marvin: do you think pluto should be a planet? mike: i don't understand that. what do you think? [laughter] then it was or a wild, wasn't for a while, and now it is. >> yeah. mike: what do you think? >> i did a project on it in the fourth grade, and i don't think it should be because it is behind another belt. i forgot what the belt is called. but anyway, it does not have the same orbit as every other planet does. it goes around in other planet's orbits, too. mike: well, that is a good reason. our most people starting to agree with you or disagree with you? >> i don't know. mike: i think it is a planet
more likely. the people who say that it is a planet, aren't they winning? >> i don't know. [laughter] mike: ok. marvin: we've got time for one more question. >> lucky old mike, i am andrew martin and also from the national cathedral with a question about one of the moon rocks we have in the sting glass window. do we have a moon rock in our stained-glass window because you were an altar boy in our cathedral? [laughter] if the peopleink who were in charge of me being an altar boy think i had anything to do with that mission, maybe they would not have allowed that window to be put in there. [laughter] mike: no, no. thank you anyway. it is beautiful. it is a beautiful window, and it does have an actual moon rock and it. it is a very unusual design because it is a modern entity.
how do you depict in stained-glass something that is a technical advance like that? they have done a nice job of it. those of you who have not been in the cathedral, take a glance at it sometime. marvin: when we first that a couple of hours ago and i was asking a very supple question, should i call you general collins? mr. collins? and you told me about mike. and i feel that after this couple of hours, you are definitely mike. mike: thank you. marvin: and you are a phenomenal representative of an extra ordinary moment in american history. and i think that young people are going to be studying that forever and a day. coming out with perhaps better ways of organizing our lives because, as you said yourself, you did something quite extraordinary. you don't want to dwell on that,
but the fact is, there are spinoffs. spinoffs can be positive and inspirational, because i think we all need a good deal more inspiration. thank you very much for being our guest. mike: thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [applause] announcer: every weekend, american history tv brings you 48 hours of unique programming exploring our nation's past. to view our schedule and an archive of all of our programs, visit c-span.org/history. announcer: tonight on "q&a" two
best-selling authors will show their perspectives on c-span's new book "the president." they ranked the best and worst executives. tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span. c-span cities tour visited palo alto, california. we continue our look with a hoover institution to tour the hoover tower. in the hoover tower on stanford's campus, which was dedicated by herbert hoover himself in 1941. hoover himself was in front of the tower there, giving his speech, and that was actually the 50th anniversary of the founding of stanford itself. he was an alum of stanford. he was part of the first class. got a degree in geology and became immensely