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Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.

second man to walk on the Moon

NASA photo of Buzz Aldrin

Biographical Data

Born January 20, 1930, in Montclair, New Jersey

Married Joan Archer
Children James, Janice, and Andrew

Married Beverly Zile

Married Lois Driggs Cannon on February 14, 1988
Divorced 2012


High School Montclair High School (graduated 1947)
Bachelor of Science United States Military Academy at West Point (1951; third in his class)
Doctorate of Science in Astronautics Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1963)

Military Career

Entered the U.S. Air Force in 1951.

Flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabre jets while on duty in Korea, as part of the 51st Fighter Wing.
Shot down two MIG-15s.
Earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Served as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Served as aide to the dean of faculty at the Air Force Academy.

Flew F-100's as a flight commander at Bitburg, Germany.

Assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division, Los Angeles.

Commanded the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Retired from active duty, with the rank of Colonel, in March 1972.

NASA Career

Selected as one of the third group of astronauts in October 1963.
The first astronaut with a doctorate.
Was put in charge of creating docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecraft. He also pioneered underwater training techniques to simulate spacewalking.

Gemini XII, with command pilot James Lovell, November 11-15, 1966.
Last Gemini mission.
Established a new record for extravehicular activity of 5 hours.
Used his rendezvous abilities to manually recalculate all the docking maneuvers on the flight, after the on-board radar failed.
Took a photograph of himself in space (below).

Aldrin's picture of himself in space

Member of the back-up crew for Apollo VIII.

Served as lunar module pilot on the Apollo XI mission, July 16-24, 1969.
Followed Neil Armstrong onto the Moon.
Spent a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes on surface outside of lander.

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, as photographed by Neil Armstrong.
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, as photographed by Neil Armstrong

Resigned in July 1971, having spent 289 hours and 53 minutes in space, including 7 hours and 52 minutes in EVA.

Post-NASA Career

Commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Founded the ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit organization to promote the expansion of manned space travel, in 1998.

President of Starcraft Enterprise, Laguna Beach, California.

Awards and Honors

Robert J. Collier Trophy (1969)
Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy (1967)
Harmon International Trophy (1967)
Presidential Medal for Freedom (1969)


Return to Earth (autobiography, 1973)
Men from Earth (1989)
Reaching for the Moon (2005)
Look to the Stars (2009)
Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon (autobiography, 2009)
No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon (2016)


Aldrin was first called "Buzzer" by his little sister, who had trouble pronouncing "brother." His family shortened the nickname to "Buzz," and he had his first name legally changed to Buzz in 1988.


Astronaut Biographies

See Also

Gemini XII
Apollo XI
Neil Armstrong
Robert J. Collier Trophy

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The Robinson Library >> Astronautics >> Biography

This page was last updated on 10/11/2018.