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Buzz Aldrin

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Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin

NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr.
(1930-01-20) January 20, 1930
Glen Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
Other occupation
Fighter pilot
USMA, B.S. 1951
MIT, Sc.D. 1963
Rank Colonel, USAF
Time in space
12 days, 1 hour and 52 minutes
Selection 1963 NASA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
7 hours 52 minutes
Missions Gemini 12, Apollo 11
Mission insignia
Retirement July 1, 1971

Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr., January 20, 1930) is an American engineer and former astronaut, and the second person to walk on the Moon. He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. He set foot on the Moon at 03:15:16 (UTC) on July 21, 1969, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. He is also a retired colonel in the United States Air Force (USAF) and a Command Pilot.


Early life

Aldrin was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey,[1][2] to Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Sr. (1896–1974), a career military man, and his wife Marion (née Moon; 1903–1968).[3][4] He is of Scottish, Swedish,[5] and German ancestry. After graduating from Montclair High School in 1946,[1][6] Aldrin turned down a full scholarship offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The nickname "Buzz" originated in childhood: the younger of his two elder sisters mispronounced "brother" as "buzzer", and this was shortened to Buzz. Aldrin made it his legal first name in 1988.[7]

Military career

Aldrin graduated third in his class at West Point in 1951, with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force and served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabres and shot down two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 aircraft. The June 8, 1953, issue of Life magazine featured gun camera photos taken by Aldrin of one of the Soviet pilots ejecting from his damaged aircraft.[8]

After the war, Aldrin was assigned as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and next was an aide to the dean of faculty at the United States Air Force Academy, which had recently begun operations in 1955. He flew F-100 Super Sabres as a flight commander at Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, in the 22d Fighter Squadron. In 1963 Aldrin earned a Doctor of Science degree in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[9] His graduate thesis was "Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous",[10] the dedication of which read, "In the hopes that this work may in some way contribute to their exploration of space, this is dedicated to the crew members of this country’s present and future manned space programs. If only I could join them in their exciting endeavors!" On completion of his doctorate, he was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles before his selection as an astronaut. His initial application to join the astronaut corps was rejected on the basis of never having been a test pilot; that prerequisite was lifted when he re-applied and was accepted into the third astronaut class.

NASA career

Aldrin during Gemini 12 with the Earth reflecting off his visor
Aldrin and Jim Lovell after the Gemini 12 mission
Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon during Apollo 11
Aldrin's lunar footprint in a photo taken by him on July 20, 1969
Video from the Apollo 11 mission

Aldrin was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts selected in October 1963. Because test pilot experience was no longer a requirement, this was the first selection for which he was eligible. After the deaths of the original Gemini 9 prime crew, Elliot See and Charles Bassett, Aldrin and Jim Lovell were promoted to back-up crew for the mission. The main objective of the revised mission (Gemini 9A) was to rendezvous and dock with a target vehicle, but when this failed, Aldrin improvised an effective exercise for the craft to rendezvous with a co-ordinate in space. He was confirmed as pilot on Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission and the last chance to prove methods for extra-vehicular activity (EVA). Aldrin set a record for EVA, demonstrating that astronauts could work outside spacecraft.

On July 21, 1969, he became the second astronaut to walk on the Moon, keeping his record total EVA time until that was surpassed on Apollo 14. Aldrin's first words on the Moon were "Beautiful view. Magnificent desolation."[11] There has been much speculation about Aldrin's desire at the time to be the first astronaut to walk on the Moon.[12] According to different NASA accounts, he had originally been proposed as the first to step onto the Moon's surface, but due to the physical positioning of the astronauts inside the compact lunar landing module, it was easier for the commander, Neil Armstrong, to be the first to exit the spacecraft.

Aldrin, a Presbyterian, was the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon. After landing on the Moon, he radioed Earth: "I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." He took communion on the surface of the Moon, but he kept it secret because of a lawsuit brought by atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair over the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8.[13] Aldrin, a church elder, used a home communion kit given to him, and recited words used by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dean Woodruff.[14][15] The communion elements were the first food and liquid consumed on the Moon: in Guideposts, Aldrin stated: “It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.”[16]

Later Aldrin commented on the event: "Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God."[16][17]


Col. Aldrin as Commandant of the Air Force Test Pilot School

After leaving NASA in July 1971, Aldrin was assigned as the Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. In March 1972, Aldrin retired from active duty after 21 years of service, and returned to the Air Force in a managerial role, but his career was blighted by personal problems. His autobiographies Return to Earth, published in 1973, and Magnificent Desolation, published in June 2009, both provide accounts of his struggles with clinical depression and alcoholism in the years following his NASA career.[18] His life improved considerably when he recognized and sought treatment for his problems. Since retiring from NASA, he has continued to promote space exploration, including producing a computer strategy game called Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space (1993). To further promote space exploration, and to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, Aldrin teamed up with Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Talib Kweli, and Soulja Boy to create the rap single and video, "Rocket Experience", with proceeds from video and song sales to benefit Aldrin's non-profit foundation, ShareSpace.[19] In 1995, he made a featured appearance in the Charlton Heston, Mickey Rooney, and Deborah Winters film America: A Call to Greatness, directed by Warren Chaney.[20][21]

He referred to a "Phobos monolith" in a July 22, 2009, interview with C-SPAN: "We should go boldly where man has not gone before. Fly by the comets, visit asteroids, visit the moon of Mars. There's a monolith there. A very unusual structure on this potato shaped object that goes around Mars once in seven hours. When people find out about that they're going to say 'Who put that there? Who put that there?' The universe put it there. If you choose, God put it there…"[22]

Aldrin has voiced parody versions of himself in two of Matt Groening's animated series: The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer", in which he accompanies Homer Simpson on a trip into space as part of NASA's plan to improve its public appearance, and the Futurama episode "Cold Warriors".

In 2011 Aldrin appeared as himself in the film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, where he explains to Optimus Prime and the Autobots that the Apollo 11 mission also discovered a Cybertronian ship on the moon whose existence was concealed from the public. In 2012, he made a cameo appearance in Japanese drama film Space Brothers.

Aldrin also lent his voice talents to the 2012 video game Mass Effect 3, playing a stargazer who appears in the game's final scene.

Aldrin cycler

In 1985, Aldrin proposed the existence of a special spacecraft trajectory now known as the Aldrin cycler.[23][24] A spacecraft traveling on an Aldrin cycler trajectory would pass near the planets Earth and Mars on a regular (cyclic) basis. The Aldrin cycler is an example of a Mars cycler. He was also instrumental in the idea of training astronauts underwater in order to better prepare them for the intricate space walks and duties of maintenance while in space.

Bart Sibrel incident

On September 9, 2002, Aldrin was lured to a Beverly Hills hotel on the pretext of being interviewed for a Japanese children's television show on the subject of space. When he arrived, Apollo conspiracy proponent Bart Sibrel accosted him with a film crew and demanded he swear on a Bible that the Moon landings were not faked, insisting that Aldrin and others had lied about walking on the Moon. After a brief confrontation, in which Sibrel called him "a coward and a liar",[25] Aldrin punched Sibrel in the jaw. The police determined that Aldrin was provoked and no charges were filed.[26] Aldrin dedicates a chapter to this incident in his autobiography Magnificent Desolation.[27]


Aldrin in Mission Control with NASA spokesman Josh Byerly and Flight Director Ron Spencer in 2009

Criticism of NASA's 2003 return-to-moon objectives

In December 2003, Aldrin published an opinion piece in The New York Times criticizing NASA's objectives.[28] In it, he voiced concern about NASA's development of a spacecraft "limited to transporting four astronauts at a time with little or no cargo carrying capability" and declared the goal of sending astronauts back to the Moon was "more like reaching for past glory than striving for new triumphs".

Support of a manned mission to Mars

In June 2013, Aldrin wrote an opinion published in The New York Times supporting a manned mission to Mars and views the moon "not as a destination but more a point of departure, one that places humankind on a trajectory to homestead Mars and become a two-planet species."[29]

Climate change

In 2009, Aldrin commented on climate change by saying: "I think the climate has been changing for billions of years. If it's warming now, it may cool off later. I'm not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I'm not necessarily of the school that we are causing it all, I think the world is causing it."[30]


Books co-authored by Aldrin include Return to Earth (1973), Men From Earth (1989), Reaching for the Moon (2005), Look to the Stars (2009) and Magnificent Desolation (2009). He has also co-authored with John Barnes the science fiction novels Encounter with Tiber (1996) and The Return (2000). His book Mission to Mars was published in May 2013.

Personal life

Buzz Aldrin, February 2009

Aldrin has been married three times. His first marriage was to Joan Archer, the mother of his three children (James, Janice and Andrew). His second marriage was to Beverly Zile. His third marriage was to Lois Driggs Cannon, from whom he is recently divorced. He filed for divorce from Lois on June 15, 2011, in Los Angeles, citing "irreconcilable differences".[31] The divorce was finalized on December 28, 2012.[32] He has one grandson, Jeffrey Schuss, born to his daughter, Janice.

His battles against depression and alcoholism have been documented, most recently in Magnificent Desolation.[33][34] Aldrin is an active supporter of the Republican Party, headlining fundraisers for GOP members of Congress.[35] In 2007, Aldrin confirmed to Time magazine that he had recently had a face-lift;[36] he joked that the G-forces he was exposed to in space "caused a sagging jowl that needed some attention."[36]

Aldrin commented on the passing of his Apollo 11 colleague, Neil Armstrong, saying that he was "deeply saddened by the passing. I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. I had truly hoped that on July 20th, 2019, Neil, Mike and I would be standing together to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of our moon landing...Regrettably, this is not to be."[37][38]

Aldrin is a Freemason, a member of Montclair Lodge # 144 of New Jersey.[39][40]

Honors and awards

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Master Astronaut badge
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
with cluster
Legion of Merit Distinguished Flying Cross
with cluster
Air Medal
with two clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal Outstanding Unit Award
Presidential Medal of Freedom
with Distinction
NASA Distinguished Service Medal NASA Exceptional Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
with one star
Korean Service Medal
with two stars
Air Force Longevity Service Award
with four clusters
Presidential Unit Citation
United Nations Korea Medal Korean War Service Medal

Detached adapter panel sighting

In 2005, while being interviewed for a documentary titled First on the Moon: The Untold Story, Aldrin told an interviewer that they saw an unidentified flying object. Aldrin told David Morrison, a NASA Astrobiology Institute senior scientist, that the documentary cut the crew's conclusion that they were probably seeing one of four detached spacecraft adapter panels. Their S-IVB upper stage was 6,000 miles (9,700 km) away, but the four panels were jettisoned before the S-IVB made its separation maneuver so they would closely follow the Apollo 11 spacecraft until its first midcourse correction.[50] When Aldrin appeared on The Howard Stern Show on August 15, 2007, Stern asked him about the supposed UFO sighting. Aldrin confirmed that there was no such sighting of anything deemed extraterrestrial, and said they were and are "99.9 percent" sure that the object was the detached panel.[51][52][53]

Interviewed by the Science Channel, Aldrin mentioned seeing unidentified objects, and according to Aldrin his words were taken out of context; he asked the Science Channel to clarify to viewers he did not see alien spacecraft, but they refused.[54]

Film and television


Film and television roles
Year Title Role
1976 The Boy in the Plastic Bubble Himself
1994 The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer" Himself (voice)
1999 Disney's Recess episode "Space Cadet" Himself (Voice)
2003 Da Ali G Show Himself
2010 30 Rock Himself
2006 Numb3rs episode Killer Chat Himself
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Himself
2012 The Big Bang Theory Himself
2011 Futurama Himself (voice)
2012 Space Brothers Himself
2010 Dancing with the Stars Himself
2012 The Big Bang Theory Himself

Portrayed by others

Aldrin has been portrayed by:

See also


  • Aldrin, Col. Edwin E., Jr. 1970. Footsteps on the Moon. Edison Electric Institute Bulletin. Vol. 38, No. 7, pp. 266–272.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and Wayne Warga. 1973. Return to Earth. New York, Random House.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and Malcolm McConnell. 1989. Men from Earth. New York: Bantam Books.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and John Barnes. 1996. Encounter with Tiber. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1996.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and John Barnes. 2000. The Return. New York: Forge.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and Wendell Minor. 2005. Reaching for the Moon. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and Ken Abraham. 2009. Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. New York: Harmony Books.
  • Aldrin, Buzz and Wendell Minor. 2009. Look to the Stars. Camberwell, Vic.: Puffin Books.
  • Armstrong, Neil; Michael Collins; Edwin E. Aldrin; Gene Farmer; and Dora Jane Hamblin. 1970. First on the Moon: A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. Boston: Little, Brown.
  • Aldrin, Buzz. 2013. "Mission to Mars". Washington, D.C.: The National Geographic Society.


  1. ^ a b "To the moon and beyond", The Record (Bergen County), July 20, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2009. The source is indicative of the confusion regarding his birthplace. He is described in the article's first paragraph as having been "born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey", while a more detailed second paragraph on "The Early Years" states that he was "born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. on January 20, 1930, in the Glen Ridge wing of Montclair Hospital".
  2. ^ Hansen, James R. (2005).   "His birth certificate lists Glen Ridge as his birthplace."
  3. ^ Archived April 2, 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  4. ^ Solomon, Deborah; Oth, Christian (June 15, 2009 and June 21, 2009). "Questions for Buzz Aldrin: The Man on the Moon". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2009.  Note: print-view software lists the article date as June 21, 2009; main article webpage shows June 15.
  5. ^ Powell, Sarah. From The Dollar To The Moon. Chapter 7 – That "giant leap for mankind" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 24, 2010).
  6. ^ "Aldrin Was A Classmate". Adirondack Daily Enterprise. July 14, 1969. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Chaikin, Andrew (2007). A Man on the Moon. Penguin. p. 585.  
  8. ^ "Communist Pilot is Catapulted from Crippled MIG". Life. June 8, 1953. p. 29.  
  9. ^ Buzz Aldrin's Official NASA Biography
  10. ^ DSpace@MIT : Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Teague, Kipp, ed. (July 21, 1969). Apollo 11 – Buzz Aldrin Descends Ladder to Lunar Surface (MPEG-1). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 48 seconds. Retrieved December 22, 2013. Lay summary – Apollo 11 Video Library (September 6, 2011). Beautiful view. Magnificent desolation. 
  12. ^ Cortright, Edgar M (ed.), "8", Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, NASA, p. 7 
  13. ^ Chaikin, Andrew, A Man on the Moon, p. 204 
  14. ^ Armstrong, Neil; Collins, Michael; Aldrin, Buzz; Farmer, Gene; Hamblin, Dora Jane (1970), First on the Moon – A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr, London: Michael Joseph, p. 251,  
  15. ^ Hillner, Jennifer (January 24, 2007). "Sundance 2007: Buzz Aldrin Speaks". Table of Malcontents – Wired Blogs. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  16. ^ a b Cresswell, Matthew (September 13, 2012). "How Buzz Aldrin's communion on the moon was hushed up". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ Aldrin, Buzz; Abraham, Ken. 2009. Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. Random House LLC. p. 27 ISBN 9780307463470
  18. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (2009). Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. Harmony. 
  19. ^ Buzz Aldrin and Snoop Dogg reach for the stars with Rocket Experience, The Times, June 25, 2009
  20. ^ America Movie Biographies. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  21. ^ America: A Call to Greatness (1995). Internet Movie Database
  22. ^ "Buzz Aldrin Reveals Existence of Monolith on Mars Moon". C-SPAN. July 22, 2009. 
  23. ^ Aldrin, E. E., "Cyclic Trajectory Concepts," SAIC presentation to the Interplanetary Rapid Transit Study Meeting, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, October 1985.
  24. ^ Byrnes, D. V., Longuski, J. M., and Aldrin, B. (1993). "Cycler Orbit Between Earth and Mars". Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets 30 (3): 334–336.  
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Ex-astronaut escapes assault charge". BBC News. September 21, 2002. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  27. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (2009). Magnificent Desolation. Harmony Books. p. 281. "A Blow Heard 'Round the World".
  28. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (December 5, 2003). "Fly Me To L1". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2009. 
  29. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (June 13, 2013). "The Call of Mars".  
  30. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (July 3, 2009). "Buzz Aldrin calls for manned flight to Mars to overcome global problems". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  31. ^ Roberts, Roxanne and Argetsinger (June 16, 2011). "Love, etc.: Buzz Aldrin divorces; Hugh Hefner gets revenge on ex". The Washington Post.
  32. ^ "Buzz Aldrin – Officially Divorced". Ghanamma. Jan 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  33. ^ "After walking on moon, astronauts trod various paths". CNN. July 17, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2010. 
  34. ^ Read, Kimberly (January 4, 2005). "Buzz Aldrin". Bipolar. About. Retrieved November 2, 2008. 
  35. ^ Invite (PDF), Combat Veterans For Congress 
  36. ^ a b "10 Questions for Buzz Aldrin". September 6, 2007. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  37. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (August 25, 2012). "About passing of Neil Armstrong". The real Buzz. Twitter. Retrieved August 25, 2012. 
  38. ^ Aldrin, Buzz (August 25, 2012). "On the Passing of Neil Armstrong" (official statement). Retrieved August 25, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Astronaut", Masonic museum ( 
  40. ^,%20Astronaut.PDF
  41. ^ "Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (5001)-(10000): 6470 Aldrin". IAU: Minor Planet Center. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  42. ^ "Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame:Buzz Aldrin". Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  43. ^ First Moon Landing, 1969" United States postage stamp""". Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  44. ^ Personnel Announcements – August 22, 2001 White House Press Release naming the Presidential Appointees for the commission.
  45. ^ Archived March 20, 2008 at the Wayback Machine – This source states he was appointed in 2002, although according to the August 22, 2001 Press he was a made fellow Release, it was 2001.
  46. ^ "Variety International Humanitarian Awards". Variety, the Children's Charity. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  47. ^ Symposium Awards at the Wayback Machine (archived February 3, 2009).
  48. ^ Aldrin "Hollywood Walk of Fame database". 
  49. ^ "Space Foundation Survey Reveals Broad Range of Space Heroes". October 27, 2010. 
  50. ^ "Apollo 11 Mission Op Report" (PDF). NASA. 
  51. ^ Morrison, David (July 26, 2006). "NASA Ask an Astrobiologist". NASA. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. 
  52. ^ "Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Recounts Apollo 11 UFO Encounter". July 18, 1969. 
  53. ^ "A link to The Science Channel scheduling info for cited documentary containing Aldrin's UFO comments". 
  54. ^ Morrison, David (2009). "UFOs and Aliens in Space". Skeptical Inquirer 33 (1): 30–31. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Buzz Aldrin's Official NASA Biography
  • A February 2009 BBC News item about Buzz Aldrin's Moon memories, looking forward to the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing
  • "Satellite of solitude" by Buzz Aldrin: an article in which Aldrin describes what it was like to walk on the Moon, Cosmos science magazine
  • Video interview with Buzz Aldrin Buzz is shown an enlarged print of Tranquility Base and talks Graeme Hill through the points of significance.
  • Video interview on AstrotalkUK

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