Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. was born on January 20, 1930 in Montclair, New Jersey. Aldrin later legally adopted his childhood nickname, Buzz. Buzz Aldrin’s interest in space flight began at home. His mother, Marion Moon, was the daughter of an Army Chaplain. His father, Edwin Eugene Aldrin, was an aviation pioneer, a student of rocket developer Robert Goddard, and an aide to General Billy Mitchell.
Buzz Aldrin graduated from Montclair High School and entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1951, graduating third in his class with a Bachelor of Science degree. Buzz Aldrin entered the Air Force after graduating from West Point and earned his air force pilot’s wings in 1952. He flew Sabre jets in 66 combat missions during the Korean War.
Buzz Aldrin temporarily left flying in 1959 to enter graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. He planned to complete a master’s degree and then apply for test pilot school. Instead, he earned a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics in 1963. His thesis, “Guidance for Manned Orbital Rendezvous”, was the study of piloted rendezvous (bringing piloted spacecraft into close proximity with each other). His thesis dedication reads, “The men in the astronaut program. Oh that I were one of them.” Techniques he devised are used on all space rendezvous and docking flights.
After leaving MIT, Buzz Aldrin was assigned to the air force’s space division in Los Angeles, California. In 1963 he transferred to the Manned Space Center (now the Johnson Space Center) in Houston, Texas, working closely with experiments for the Gemini Program. NASA accepted Aldrin into its third group of astronauts in October 1963. He was the first astronaut with a Ph.D. degree and quickly earned the nickname of “Dr. Rendezvous”. He was in the first crew to orbit the earth, where he made major improvements by advancing operational techniques for astronautical navigation star display.
In 1966 Aldrin and astronaut Jim Lovell were assigned to the backup crew of Gemini 10. That same year they were scheduled to fly aboard Gemini 12 from November 11 to November 15, 1966. Aldrin’s two-hour space walk on the flight was the longest and most successful spacewalk ever done to that time. His rendezvous abilities were also put to use when he manually recomputed all the rendezvous maneuvers after the on-board radar failed.
After Gemini 12, Aldrin was assigned to the backup crew of Apollo 8. He was closely involved with Apollo 9 rendezvous flight tests, the first flight in which two astronauts in a Lunar Module separated from the third astronaut in the Command and Service Module. The Lunar Module of the Apollo spacecraft could not reenter the earth’s atmosphere, so rendezvous and docking were critical to the lives of the astronauts in the module.
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed their Lunar Module on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility and became the first two humans to walk on the moon.\r\n\r\nUpon returning from the moon, Buzz embarked on an international goodwill tour. He was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom plus over 50 other distinguished awards and medals from the United States and numerous countries.
Since retiring from NASA and the Air Force, Dr. Aldrin has remained in the forefront of efforts to ensure a continued leading role for America in manned space exploration. To advance his lifelong commitment to venturing outward in space, he has created a master plan of evolving missions for sustained exploration utilizing his concept, “The Cycler”, a spacecraft system which makes perpetual orbits between Earth and Mars. In 1993, Dr. Aldrin received a U.S. patent for a permanent space station he designed. He recently founded his rocket design company, Starcraft Boosters, Inc. and the ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to opening the doors to space tourism for all people.
“There’s a need for accepting responsibility – for a person’s life and making choices that are not just ones for immediate short-term comfort. You need to make an investment, and the investment is in health and education.” – Buzz Aldrin