Buzz Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey on January 20, 1930. His mother, Marion Moon, was the daughter of an Army Chaplain. His father, Edwin Eugene Aldrin, was a Colonel in the Air Force, a Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an aviation pioneer. Buzz was educated at the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating third in his class with a B.S. in mechanical engineering.
He then joined the Air Force where he flew F86 Sabre Jets in 66 combat missions in Korea, shot down two MIG-15′s, and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. After a tour of duty in Germany flying F100’s, he went on to earn his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics at MIT and wrote his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous.
Selected by NASA in 1963 into the third group of astronauts, Aldrin was the first with a doctorate and became known as “Dr. Rendezvous.” The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today.
He also pioneered underwater training techniques, as a substitute for zero gravity flights, to simulate spacewalking. In 1966, on the Gemini 12 orbital mission, Buzz performed the world’s first successful spacewalk, overcoming prior difficulties experienced in all American and Russian extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and set a new EVA record of 5 ½ hours.
Then, on July 20, 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. They spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned with 46 pounds of moon rocks. The largest worldwide television audience – an estimated 600 million people, witnessed this unprecedented heroic endeavor.
Upon returning from the moon, Buzz was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American peacetime award. A 45-day international goodwill tour followed, where he received numerous distinguished awards and medals from 23 other countries. Named after Buzz are Asteroid “6470 Aldrin” and the “Aldrin Crater” on the moon. Buzz and his Apollo 11 crew have four “stars” on each corner of Hollywood and Vine streets on the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Since retiring from NASA and the Air Force, Col. Aldrin has remained at the forefront of efforts to ensure America’s continued leadership in human space exploration. He devised a master plan for missions to Mars – the “Aldrin Mars Cycler” – a spacecraft transportation system with perpetual cycling orbits between Earth and Mars. Dr. Aldrin reaches out to today’s youth with his illustrated children’s books: Reaching for the Moon and Look to the Stars, both New York Times best sellers. His 2009 New York Times best selling autobiography, Magnificent Desolation, has inspired the lives of readers worldwide.
In addition, he has authored two space science-fact-fiction novels: Encounter with Tiber and The Return. His non-fiction works include the best-seller historical documentary, Men from Earth, and an early 1970’s autobiography, Return to Earth.
As one of the leading space exploration advocates, Buzz continues to chart a course for future space travel from Planet Earth to the moon and on to Mars.