Lonely Planet Writer

Buzz Aldrin takes his first steps in Nepal for National Science Day

Buzz Aldrin was 39 when we became the second man on the moon. Now, the veteran astronaut is making another personal first, travelling to Nepal at the age of 86 to speak to students at the Everest Science Center for Nepal’s National Science Day.

Buzz Aldrin, former astronaut.
Buzz Aldrin, former astronaut. Image by Eirik Newth / CC BY 2.0

The Apollo 11 astronaut landed at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport on Sunday, wearing his signature ‘Eat my Moondust’ T-shirt. As part of a five-day tour, Aldrin will speak to Nepali students about technological innovation, robotics and the real-life ins and outs of space travel, as well as his project to send a manned human mission to Mars.

Heading off in style to a new country I’ve never been to. Nepal! Who’s coming to the Everest Science Center?

A photo posted by Buzz Aldrin (@drbuzzaldrin) on Sep 4, 2016 at 10:48am PDT

While neighbouring India has a well-developed space programme, Nepal’s space programme is, so far, rather modest. The government had promised to launch the first Nepali satellite into orbit by 2015, but this goal has been repeatedly set back, and the launch, when it comes, may actually be made from neighbouring China.

Aldrin is not the first American celebrity to take a special interest in Nepal. Hollywood actor and Buddhist Richard Gere has been a regular visitor since the 1970s, and Leonardo DiCaprio personally donated US$3 million to tiger conservation during his 2010 visit for the World Wildlife Fund. Former US president Jimmy Carter was also due to spend a week in Nepal in 2015 building houses for the charity Habitat for Humanity in 2015, until the trip was cancelled because of fuel shortages in the country.