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ANN CONWAY

Aldrin Hopes to 'Blast Off' With New Space Book

July 15, 1988|ANN CONWAY

The god Apollo has nothing on Buzz Aldrin. Or so it seemed during the past two weeks when Aldrin, first man on the moon after Neil Armstrong, visited the island of Lindos in Greece. "The people there, because of their old beliefs, looked upon Buzz as some kind of modern myth!" his wife, Lois, said.

The Aldrins were on Lindos as house guests of writer Malcolm McConnell ("Challenger: A Major Malfunction"), co-author of a book-in-progress with Buzz. The book, to be published by Bantam in July, 1989, "will reflect on the Apollo space program," Aldrin said. "And reveal knowledge not generally known about the extent of Soviet attempts to reach the moon before the United States did."

It is no coincidence that the book, with the working title "Men from Earth," will be published close to the 20th anniversary of the first lunar landing (July 20, 1969). "We are looking toward the anniversary and the attention it will create in the media," Aldrin said. "By that time a number of new space activities, depending upon the schedule of the U.S. space shuttles, will have occurred."

And it is no coincidence, he believes, that the Soviets have recently launched twin probes that are due to arrive at Mars next year. "It is a potential means of the Soviets upstaging, in the media, our celebration of reaching the moon," he said. "I suspect that our anniversary was not the primary reason the Soviets chose when to send space craft to Mars.

"But I think they will attempt to maximize the publicity of their space craft reaching Mars at the time we are preparing to celebrate Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk on the moon."

During his stay in Greece, he and McConnell were able to "scope out and fill in a very precise outline of chapters," Aldrin said. "McConnell recorded over a dozen tapes of my reminiscences.

"The final section of the book will deal with my suggestions as to how to get the U.S. space program back on track, into something that will put us in a position of leadership in space, into something that the American people can respect."

On Saturday, the two men will return to the Kennedy Space Center to visit Launch Pad 39A, where Aldrin, 19 years ago to the day, was blasted into space aboard Apollo 11.

Then, in October, it will be back to Lindos for the two men to continue work on the book.

How does it feel to be gazed upon as a modern myth? "Well," Aldrin began, measuredly, "looking at the acropolis in Lindos and the Parthenon in Athens, although a little removed from the moon, I could see where modern-day technology has a strange way of fulfilling the myths of the people who preceded us."

(Footnote: Aldrin's son, Andrew, a student of Soviet studies at UCLA, accepted an invitation by the Soviet Union to come to the Baikonur space complex to witness the lifting off of the unmanned probes that will scout Mars and probe Probos, one of its tiny moons.)

Christening the Quest: Such a christening, already. More than 300 of megamillionaire developer Don Koll's nearest and dearest swept into the Newport Harbor Yacht Club late Wednesday afternoon to view his new custom-built yacht, the Quest. And when they weren't drooling over the yacht's four staterooms, they were dining in the clubhouse on $10,000 worth of fare. Koll, a member of the Forbes 400, is known for his generous ways with family and friends. And he proved it again Wednesday night when he provided enough for each guest to enjoy: three of the 1,000 oysters on display; eight of the 2,000 fist-size shrimp; four fat crab claws; four skewers of ceviche and two prime rib and two ham sandwiches. Not to mention the saute stand where scampi and scallops sizzled deliciously before guests. And, by the way, none of those drippy ice sculptures would do for our Don. The table centerpiece was nothing less than a replica of his 103-foot yacht. Take a bow!

Speaking of Arms Races: Charlton Heston, along with such celebrities as Jerry Mathers and singer Jack Jones, will descend upon the Dana Point Resort on Aug. 26 to hole up while they participate in the second annual Charlton Heston Invitational Celebrity Shoot at Coto de Caza. The event will raise funds for the Institute of Legislative Action, the political and legislative arm of the National Rifle Assn.

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