Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin went from last place to first-to-be-spared Tuesday night, when ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" host Brooke Burke named him as "safe to dance again" during the opening moments of the reality TV show's live broadcast.
"This promises to be a surprising and exciting night," said Burke, who won the ballroom dancing competition (opens in new tab) in 2008.
Judging by the moment's pause that it took him to react to the news (opens in new tab), Aldrin was indeed surprised. His shock quickly changed to excitement though, as he exchanged kisses with dancing partner Ashly Costa and Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, who had earned the top score going into Tuesday's elimination round.
Actress Shannon Doherty, best known for her role on the 1990s TV drama "Beverly Hills 90210," was voted off the show instead, despite having earned 12 more points from the judges than Aldrin's lowest ranked 26 out of 60.
"Last week we got a 14, this week we got 12, so it's going to take an awful lot of people on the outside who really want to see me coming back," said Aldrin in a segment that was taped after he performed the foxtrot on Monday night. "I think it is sort of nip and tuck."
"This a great example," said Burke, who spoke to Aldrin after he learned he was coming back. "This just goes to show you how important the... votes are from home."
Saving the second man to walk on the moon from having to be the first danced off the stage were fans who called, texted and submitted their votes for him, which Aldrin was first to acknowledge.
"I think the judges probably had it right," he said, referring to his two performances which the judges said looked like he was still wearing his moon boots while working to avoid lunar craters.
"I think my friends who are proud of our space program in the past and have great expectations for the future, I think they had a little bit of something to do with [my staying], Aldrin told Burke. "And I am patriotic person that served this country, saluted the flag and that made people think."
Aldrin will now need to prepare with Costa for his next live dance, scheduled for the same day NASA plans to launch STS-131, the agency's next space shuttle mission to the International Space Station, on April 5.
During Tuesday night's broadcast, judge Len Goodman, a British professional ballroom dancer, introduced an extra challenge for Aldrin and his nine competitors left dancing.
"We want each dance to show a story," said Goodman. "We don't want it to work with gimmicks and tricks; we are not interested in that. We want to see a story through the dance."
"We promise to try our best and improve," Aldrin posted to Twitter after the show aired. "Next week, the waltz!"
Visit collectSPACE.com throughout Buzz Aldrin's time on "Dancing with the Stars" for the latest episode updates and photographs.
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