Buzz Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey on January 20, 1930. His mother, Marion Moon, was the daughter of an Army Chaplain. His father, Edwin Eugene Aldrin, was a Colonel in the Air Force, a ScD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an aviation pioneer who later became the Commanding Officer of the Newark Airport in New Jersey.
Buzz grew up in New Jersey and after graduating one year early from Montclair High School he was educated at the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating third in his class with a BS in mechanical engineering. He then joined the Air Force where he flew F86 Sabre Jets in 66 combat missions in Korea, shot down two MIG-15’s and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. After a tour of duty in Germany flying F100’s, he went on to earn his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics at MIT and wrote his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous.
Selected by NASA in 1963 into the third group of astronauts, Aldrin was the first with a doctorate and became known as “Dr. Rendezvous.” The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs and are still used today. He also pioneered underwater training techniques, as a substitute for zero gravity flights, to simulate spacewalking. On July 20, 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. They spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned with 46 pounds of moon rocks. An estimated 600 million people, at that time the world’s largest television audience in history witnessed this unprecedented heroic endeavor.
On November 16, 2011, Dr. Aldrin was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Dr. Aldrin is an author of multiple books including his New York Times bestselling autobiography, “Magnificent Desolation,” which was released in 2009 just before the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing. He continues to inspire today’s youth with his illustrated children’s books: “Reaching for the Moon,” another New York Times bestseller, and “Look to the Stars.” He has also authored two space science fact-fiction novels: “The Return” and “Encounter with Tiber.” His non-fiction works include the bestseller historical documentary, “Men from Earth,” and an early 1970’s autobiography, “Return to Earth.”
As one of the leading space exploration advocates, Buzz continues to chart a course for future space travel and is passionate about inspiring the younger generations of future explorers and innovators.