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Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., Gemini and Apollo Astronaut

Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.) was the second man to set foot on the surface of the moon. He, along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, was a crew member on the Apollo 11 mission, which was launched on July 16, 1969. Aldrin was the lunar module pilot for the mission. The spacecraft landed on the moon July 20, on a site called the Sea of Tranquility. While the Apollo 11 mission was Aldrin’s most well-known accomplishment, it was not his first time in space. He was the pilot for the Gemini XII mission in November 1966. On this mission, the craft orbited the earth while the crew performed tasks and did experiments. Buzz was able to exit the ship while attached to a tether. This is known as EVA, or Extra-Vehicular Activity. Gemini XII was the last Gemini mission.

Born January 20, 1930 to Edwin Eugene Aldrin and Marion Moon, Buzz had flying in his blood. The first time he flew was at two years of age, in a plane piloted by his father. He grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. After high school, Buzz attended West Point Military Academy and graduated third in his class in 1951. He then joined the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot, and flew 66 missions in the Korean conflict. In 1959, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and earned a Doctorate in astronautics. During this time, he also developed new techniques that became common on all NASA missions. A few years later, in 1963, Buzz was selected by NASA to be one of the first astronauts. He spent the next few years training, and on November 11, 1966, was able to go into space with the Gemini XII mission. He and pilot James Lovell were in space for 4 days, and Buzz set a new record for Extra-Vehicular Activity during this mission. Although he spent a combined total of 290 hours in space throughout his career as a NASA astronaut, the world recognizes Buzz’s greatest career achievement as the Apollo 11 launch in 1969. This mission marked the first time a human walked on the surface of the moon.

When Aldrin returned to Earth, he set off on an international goodwill tour with his fellow Apollo 11 crewmates. In 1971, he officially resigned from NASA and went to work full time with the Air Force, then retired a year later. He has earned over 50 awards for his achievements, including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is still involved in space exploration, though today his contributions are made from Earth. He designed a new space station, which was patented in 1993. He also started up Starcraft Boosters, Inc., a company specializing in rocket design, and the ShareSpace foundation, which is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to make space tourism a reality. He has been married and divorced twice, and is currently married to Lois Driggs Cannon. He had two sons and one daughter with his first wife, Joan Ann Archer. Buzz Aldrin was one of the first astronauts, and he has accomplished great things so far in his life.

Research by Kate Sharp
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
Cosby High School

Sources:

“About Buzz Aldrin.” Buzz Aldrin. 20 May 2008 .

“Biographical Data.” NASA. Jan 1996. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 22 May 2008 .

“Buzz Aldrin.” NNDB. 2008. Soylent Communications. 22 May 2008 .

“Buzz Aldrin.” NAHF. 2005. National Aviation Hall of Fame. 22 May 2008 .

“Buzz Aldrin.” Internet Movie Database. 2008. IMDB. 22 May 2008 .

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