As the second human being ever to set foot on the moon, Buzz Aldrin instantly catapulted himself into immortality upon his return from the historic Apollo 11 mission. He was quick to point out, however, that the real value of the mission lay in the sense of sharing and camaraderie it induced in the millions of Americans who watched the situation unfold back on Earth. As he and Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong watched broadcasts of people celebrating the achievement, Aldrin pointed to the television and said, “Neil, look up there. We missed the whole thing.”
- Assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing in Seoul, Korea in December 1951 and flew 66 combat missions in the F-86.
- Flew on the Gemini 12 flight with Jim Lovell.
- Second man to walk on the moon with Neil Armstrong July 20th, 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission.
- Significantly improved operational techniques for astronautical navigation star display.
- Leading proponent of civilian space travel.
- In July 1971 returned to the Air Force as commander of the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base.
Buzz Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on January 20th, 1930. His mother, Marion Moon Aldrin, was the daughter of an Army chaplain. His father, Edwin Eugene Aldrin, was an aviation pioneer who studied with rocket developer Robert Goddard and served as an aide to the legendary airpower advocate, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. Aldrin entered West Point in 1948 with two goals: a military career in which he would focus on science and technology development, and to fly jets. Aldrin received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1951, graduating third in his class.
After earning his wings, Aldrin flew F-86 Sabre jets in 66 combat missions in the Korean Conflict with the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing based at Suwon Air Base, Republic of Korea. He earned credit for destroying two MIG-15s. His next assignment was at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where Aldrin served in the coveted position of Aerial Gunnery Instructor until reassignment to the Squadron Officers’ School at the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
An exceptional student, Aldrin was selected by the Dean of Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy to serve as his aide. After this academic sabbatical, Aldrin flew the F-86’s supersonic successor, the F-100 Super Sabre, as a flight commander with the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing at Bitburg, Germany. While with the Air Force, Aldrin logged 3,500 hours of flying time in jets and helicopters. Upon returning from Germany, he earned a doctorate in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral work focused on the problem of manned space rendezvous and the techniques he devised were used on all NASA missions, including the first space docking with the Russian cosmonauts during the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.
NASA selected Buzz Aldrin for its third class of astronauts in October 1963. Three years later, Aldrin established a new record for extra-vehicular activity in space on the Gemini 12 orbital flight mission. He spent almost eight hours space walking. As the backup command module pilot for Apollo 8, man’s first flight around the moon, he significantly improved operational techniques for astronautical navigation star display.
On July 20th, 1969, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and commander Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moon landing, becoming the first humans to set foot on another world. The largest worldwide television audience in history up to that point witnessed this unprecedented event. Spending more than twenty-one and a half-hours on the moon, Aldrin and Armstrong collected surface samples, while command module pilot Michael Collins maintained orbit in the Columbia.
Upon his return, Aldrin and his crewmates of Apollo 11 embarked on an international goodwill tour. Later in 1969, President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor among the 50 distinguished awards and medals Aldrin received from the United States and other countries. During his astronaut career Buzz Aldrin logged nearly 290 hours in space.
Buzz Aldrin left NASA in 1971 and returned to full-time duty in the Air Force. After serving as commander of the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, he retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1972. He did not, however, retire from active advocacy of the United States space program. Dr. Aldrin has remained at the forefront of efforts to ensure a continued leading role for America in manned space exploration. To advance his lifelong commitment to venturing into space, he created a master plan for sustained space exploration built around a proposed spacecraft he dubbed “The Cycler.” This spacecraft would be designed to fly in a continual orbit between Earth and Mars. Further, Aldrin has received a patent based on his design for a permanent space station.
In addition to his scientific work, Aldrin has also been a prolific writer. His autobiography, Return to Earth, described his trip to the moon and his experiences following his historic mission. A later work, Men from Earth, offered readers his unique perspectives on America’s future in space. In 1996, he published his first science fiction novel, Encounter With Tiber, and he published The Return, a space techno-thriller.
Today Aldrin, under the auspices of Starcraft Enterprises, is lecturing throughout the world in order to champion his and others’ latest concepts for exploring the universe. He is a leading voice in charting the course for future space efforts, chairing both Starcraft Boosters, Inc., and the ShareSpace Foundation.
Buzz Aldrin’s many accomplishments inthe United States air and space program and his lifelong commitment to it have earned him a well-deserved place among the distinguished group of aviation pioneers enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
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