Buzz Aldrin was perhaps one of the most influential astronauts that the world has ever experienced. In July 1969, buzz became the second man to walk on the moon craft 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong. He was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts selected in October 1963. Because of the test pilot experience was no longer a requirement; he was a United States air force pilot while he served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions and he shot down two of the enemy’s air crafts during the war.
Buzz was elected to the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2007 for his services to enterprise and space (inaugural election). Aldrin graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1951, ranking third in his graduating class. After graduation, Aldrin was as an officer in the Air Force. A year later, he was sent to Korea as a fighter pilot. He completed 66 fighter missions during the Korean War, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He then served as an Air Force instructor in Nevada before being assigned to the Air Force Academy as an aide and later a flight instructor. In 1956, he became a flight commander for a squadron in West Germany (now Germany). In 1959, Aldrin decided he needed a new career challenge and became interested in the developing U. S. space program. He enrolled in an engineering program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He graduated in 1963 with a Doctor of Science degree in Orbital Mechanics; his thesis dealt with the piloting and rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbit.
In the formative years of the Space Program, in order to participate in the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA) astronaut program, candidates were required to have attended test-pilot school. Aldrin passed the age limit to enter test-pilot school while he was at MIT, but believed this requirement would soon be eliminated. He was right. After he completed a series of strenuous mental and physical fitness tests, Aldrin was selected to be in NASA’s third group of astronauts in October of 1963.
There were 14 pilots chosen for this group-seven Air Force pilots, including Aldrin, four Navy pilots, one Marine pilot, and two civilian pilots. Aldrin was the first astronaut to hold a doctoral degree and the only astronaut who was not a test pilot. This new group of astronauts, selected for the Gemini and Apollo space missions, spent eighteen months undergoing intensive basic training in the general duties required of an astronaut. During this time Aldrin and the other trainees also had to participate in strenuous physical training exercises, attend classes, and maintain their flying skills by participating in flight exercises.
To prepare for his first space mission as Command Pilot for Gemini 12, Aldrin had to complete another 2,000 hours of specialized training. During these months, Aldrin pioneered the use of underwater training to simulate spacewalking. Aldrin’s first space mission was Gemini 12, which was with Jim Lovell, Jr. in November of 1966. During this flight, Aldrin established a new record for extra vehicular activity. In other words, his spacewalk proved that astronauts could work outside an orbiting vehicle to make repairs-a necessary ability if lunar flight was to become reality.
Following completion of the Gemini missions, the race was on between the United States and Russia to see who would reach the moon first. Aldrin completed many more hours of training to prepare for his role in different Apollo spaceflights. Intensive static and dynamic training classes were key components of the study program. (Static training simulates space flight conditions. Dynamic training prepares astronauts for the physical stresses of spaceflight. ) However, his studies also included geology.
Field trips to Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Iceland gave him an opportunity to study rock formations similar to those expected to be found on the moon. During his months in training, Aldrin created ways to improve various operational techniques, such as those used with navigational star displays. It was a combination of his temperament and skill that led to his being named Back-up Command Module pilot for Apollo 8 (December 21, 1968), the United States’ first attempt to orbit a manned lunar spacecraft. Then, in 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Aldrin were chosen as the Apollo 11 crew.
The United States was ready to launch a lunar landing flight. In “Apollo Expeditions to the Moon,” edited by Edgar M. Cortright, the three astronauts related their personal reactions to the lunar mission. Aldrin’s reflections, made on that momentous morning, give a sense of the tension and drama surrounding the launch. He shared, “While Mike and Neil were going through the complicated business of being strapped in and connected to the spacecraft’s life-support system, I waited near the elevator on the floor below.
I waited alone for fifteen minutes in a sort of serene limbo; I could see the massiveness of the Saturn V rocket below and the magnificent precision of Apollo above. I savored the wait and marked the minutes in my mind as something I would always want to remember. ” At 9:32 a. m. , July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted-off the launch pad. After the successful moon landing, the astronauts reluctantly embarked on a good will tour for NASA. Parades were given in their honor. They were awarded Presidential Medals of Freedom and were asked to speak to Congress about their experiences.
They were also asked to write a book about their experiences. The result was First on the Moon, published in 1970. The Air Force also promoted Aldrin to Commander of the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. Unhappy with his new assignments, Aldrin resigned from NASA in 1971. Shortly afterwards, having undergone treatment for depression, he retired from the Air Force. Aldrin was one of the few celebrities of that time period who publicly acknowledged that he was a recovering alcoholic. He later chaired the National Association of Mental Health and made appearances across the country discussing his battle with depression.
He also appeared at a news conference sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and openly discussed how his alcoholism and depression were intertwined. In 1972, Aldrin founded his own company, now known as StarCraft Enterprises. He sees his commercial relationships as an important link in the promotion of space tourism and the colonization of Mars. In an interview with Stephen Ring, journalist for The Coast Star, he stated, “We need another great goal, another great endeavor that will once again inspire us to bring out our best. During an interview with USA Weekend, Aldrin expressed his belief that low-Earth orbiting tourism is “going to be what allows NASA to get funding for vehicles for exploration. ” According to Ring of The Coast Star, Aldrin has designed and patented several spacecraft, including the Star Booster, the Stargrazer, and the Cycler. The Star Booster, a cylindrically-shaped, all-aluminum aircraft, with an internal Zenit rocket, would launch a Stargrazer into a suborbital path around Earth. The Star Booster would then return to Earth and be readied for its next flight.
In the meantime, the Stargrazer would continue in its suborbital path around the Earth, taking passengers on a space cruise, much the way cruise ships take passengers on ocean tours. As discussed in an interview with USA Weekend, Cyclers would use the gravitational pull of the planets to perpetually cycle themselves between Earth and Mars. Smaller ships, stored inside the Cycler space station, would ferry people and supplies between the Cycler and Mars. In 1974, Aldrin wrote his autobiography, Return to Earth.
In 1989, he and Malcolm McConnell co-authored Men from Earth which describes Aldrin’s trip to the Moon. In 1996, Aldrin and John Barnes co-authored a science fiction novel, Encounter with Tiber. He has also served as chairman of the National Space Society’s Board of Directors, and has been awarded 50 distinguished medals and citations from nations all over the world, including the United States’ Presidential Medal of Freedom. 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 on 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. Aldrin has been married three times, to Joan Archer, with whom he had three children, James, Janice, and Andrew; to Beverly Zile; and to Lois Driggs Cannon.
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. 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. “