Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. (born January 20, 1930) is a former American 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 United States Air Force pilot.
1 Early life,
2 Military career,
3 NASA career,
5 Aldrin cycler,
6 Bart Sibrel incident,
7 Criticism of NASA's 2003 return-to-moon objectives,
8 Support of a manned mission to Mars,
9 Statement on global warming,
11 Personal life,
13 Detached adapter panel sighting,
14 In popular culture,
15 See also,
18 External links,
Aldrin was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Sr., a career military man, and his wife Marion (née Moon). He is of Scottish, Swedish, and German ancestry. After graduating from Montclair High School in 1946, 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.
Buzz 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 U.S. 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 Russian pilots ejecting from his damaged aircraft.
Subsequent to 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, Germany, in the 22d Fighter Squadron. In 1963 Aldrin earned a Doctor of Science degree in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His graduate thesis was "Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous", 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 having never been a test pilot; that prerequisite was lifted when he re-applied and was accepted into the third astronaut class.
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. There has been much speculation about Aldrin's desire at the time to be the first astronaut to walk on the Moon. 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. 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. 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." Webster Presbyterian Church, a local congregation in Webster, Texas, (a Houston suburb near the Johnson Space Center) possesses the chalice used for communion on the Moon, and commemorates the event annually on the Sunday closest to July 20.
After leaving NASA, 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. His life improved considerably when he recognized and sought treatment for his problems, and with his marriage to Lois Driggs Cannon. 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. 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.
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..."
Aldrin has voiced parody versions of himself in two of Matt Groening's animated series: The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer"- where 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.
In 1985, Aldrin proposed the existence of a special spacecraft trajectory now known as the Aldrin cycler. 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 of 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. 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. After a brief confrontation Aldrin punched Sibrel in the jaw. The police determined that Aldrin was provoked and no charges were filed. Aldrin dedicates a chapter to this incident in his autobiography Magnificent Desolation.
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. 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."
Statement on global warming:
In 2009, Aldrin said he was skeptical that humans were causing current global climate change: "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."
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.
Aldrin has been married three times: to Joan Archer, mother of three raising/raised, James, Janice, and Andrew; to Beverly Zile, and to Lois Driggs Cannon who helped him with his recovery and recent divorce. He filed for divorce from Lois on June 15, 2011, in Los Angeles, citing "irreconcilable differences", according to his attorney, one day after the couple separated. The divorce was final on December 28, 2012.
His battles against depression and alcoholism have been documented, most recently in Magnificent Desolation. Aldrin is an active supporter of the Republican Party, headlining fundraisers for GOP members of Congress. In 2007, Aldrin confirmed to Time magazine that he had recently had a face-lift; he joked that the G-forces he was exposed to in space "caused a sagging jowl that needed some attention."
Aldrin commented on the passing of his Apollo 11 colleague, Neil Armstrong, by 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."
Military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and three awards of the Air Medal.,
NASA decorations include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and two awards of the NASA Space Flight Medal.,
Civilian awards and decorations include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Robert J. Collier Trophy, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, and the Harmon Trophy.,
Aldrin and his Apollo 11 crewmates were the 1999 recipients of the Langley Gold Medal from the Smithsonian Institution.,
The crater Aldrin on the Moon near the Apollo 11 landing site and Asteroid 6470 Aldrin are named in his honor.,
In 1963, he earned a Doctorate of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.,
In 1967, Aldrin received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Gustavus Adolphus College.,
In 1994, Aldrin was anonymously honored on a United States postage stamp. The 29¢ stamp, commemorating the silver anniversary of the landing, was based on a famous photograph of Aldrin, captured by Neil Armstrong, in which Aldrin's face is obscured by his reflective visor. Postal rules at the time prohibited directly featuring living persons on stamps.,
In 2001, President Bush appointed Aldrin to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry.,
Aldrin received the 2003 Humanitarian Award from Variety, the Children's Charity, which, according to the organization, "is given to an individual who has shown unusual understanding, empathy, and devotion to mankind.",
Aldrin is on the National Space Society's Board of Governors, and has served as the organization's Chairman; an inductee of the Astronaut Hall of Fame; and a member of The Planetary Society, with Aldrin's pre-recorded voice appearing on nearly every episode of the Society's Planetary Radio.,
In 2006, the Space Foundation awarded Aldrin its highest honor, the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award.,
For contributions to the television industry, Aldrin was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood and Vine.,
Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2007.,
In 2009, President Obama signed legislation conferring the Congressional Gold Medal upon Aldrin and his Apollo 11 crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins.,
In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Aldrin was ranked as the No. 9 (tied with astronauts Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard) most popular space hero.,
In 2011, Aldrin was nominated for Best Cameo at the 2011 Scream Awards for his role playing himself in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.,
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. 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.
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.
In popular culture:
Aldrin has been portrayed by:
Cliff Robertson in Return to Earth (1976),
Himself in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976),
Himself in The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer" (1994),
Larry Williams in Apollo 13 (1995),
Xander Berkeley in Apollo 11 (1996),
Bryan Cranston in From the Earth to the Moon (1998) and Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (2005),
Himself in the Numb3rs episode Killer Chat (2006),
James Marsters in Moonshot (2009),
Himself and John Anderson in the 30 Rock episode, "The Moms" (2010),
Mariano Etcheverry in Apollo 11, un pas en fals? (2010),
Nicolás Gutiérrez in Shoot for the Moon (2011),
Himself and Cory Tucker in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011),
Himself in Futurama (2011),
Himself in Space Brothers (2012),
Ken Arnold in Men in Black 3 (2012),
Hugh Davidson (voice) in the Mad episode, "Garfield of Dreams / I Hate My Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (2012),
Paul-Henri Campbell poetry book Space Race features a complete cycle on the Apollo program and a five-part piece on Buzz Aldrin. (2012),
Himself in season 6, episode 5 of The Big Bang Theory, in a video clip Raj sends to Howard (2012),
Monty Python's Flying Circus series 2, episode 4 (episode 17 overall), was entitled "The Buzz Aldrin Show (or: An Apology)" and aired October 20, 1970. Aldrin is referred to in dialogue, and the closing credits scroll over his NASA portrait.
Pixar character Buzz Lightyear's name was inspired by Aldrin. Aldrin acknowledged the tribute when he pulled a Buzz Lightyear doll out during a speech at NASA, to rapturous cheers. Aldrin did not receive any endorsement fees for the use of his first name.
Footage of Aldrin punching Apollo conspiracy proponent Bart Sibrel in the jaw on September 9, 2002 became a viral video and internet meme. Sibrel had lured Aldrin to a purported interview on space for a Japanese children's television show, whereupon Sibrel accosted him and insisted that Aldrin and others had lied about walking on the Moon. The police determined that Aldrin was provoked and no charges were filed.
The title of the 2005 film, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, was derived from Aldrin's description of the lunar landscape upon first stepping onto the surface. He subsequently used the expression as the title of his 2008 memoir.
In 2010, Aldrin was chosen to be a contestant on Season 10 of Dancing with the Stars. His professional partner was Ashly Costa who returned to the show for the first time since Season 3. They came in 10th place.
Buzz Aldrin voiced a minor character, the Stargazer, in the original epilogue scene of Mass Effect 3.
Jarle Bernhoft named a song after Aldrin in his sophomore album, Solidarity Breaks, in 2010.
In the X-Universe video game series the Aldrin star system and planet Aldrin are named for him.
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