Moments later, he waved to the crowd and stomped his boots on the glass as he marched out onto the U-shaped deck. A group of tribal leaders walked toward him from the other side of the structure, led by space shuttle mission specialist John Harrington, a member of the Chickasaw tribe and the first American Indian to fly in space.
When the two astronauts met in the middle, they smiled and shook hands.
After a morning of festivities, the crowd swarmed the rim to see former astronauts Buzz Aldrin and John Bennett Herrington, the first Native American in space, take the ceremonial "first walk."
The crowd cheered as the men slipped protective covers over their feet and stepped onto 3-inch-thick glass panes. Hualapai Chairman Charlie Vaughn, developer David Jin and other VIPs joined them.
A smiling Aldrin called it a "magnificent first walk," then clutched the glass rail and leaned over for a look at the crevice below.
At a news conference afterward, he said, "You're walking on transparent glass. You can look left, right, up, down and see a truly magnificent view."
Aldrin, who was paid a speaker's fee, said the experience was wonderful but no moonwalk. "It really doesn't compare that much to walking in space," he said. "Not exactly like floating on air, but a wonderful vision. A vision of hope for the future."
Many on Tuesday expressed that they had mixed emotions about building a commercial structure onto the canyon.
"We do need something here," said Travis Majenty, a cultural specialist for the tribe. "I was opposed, but now I'm going to give it a chance."