Buzz Aldrin, one of America’s most iconic figures, is an everyday household name and can often be seen appearing on television shows like The Big Bang Theory or 30 Rock.
He is also the author of multiple books and an entrepreneur with two companies; Starcraft Boosters designs reusable rockets, while ShareSpace Foundation promotes science education for children. Furthermore, he advocated manned space flight.
The Untold Story Of Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the moon, playing an important role behind-the-scenes of America’s space program, as you will see after reading this article.
Mechanical engineer by training, Aldrin joined the astronaut program after being rejected once before, refusing to give up on his dream. Soon thereafter, he began working on some of the toughest challenges associated with human spaceflight, such as docking two orbiting spacecraft at thousands of miles per hour through space, and surviving extravehicular activity (EVA). Soon he earned the nickname “Dr. Rendezvous”, even creating underwater exercises to replicate conditions similar to EVA during lunar landing missions.
Although some members of the Apollo crew had doubts about their mission, Buzz Aldrin never did. He remained totally confident in their ability to successfully complete their descent from 50,000 feet down to the lunar surface in 13 minutes.
The Early Years
Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr was born in Montclair, New Jersey to his military pilot father who studied under rocket scientist Robert Goddard. Aldrin excelled at athletics as quarterback for his high school team as well as participating in track and field.
At West Point, Aldrin was an outstanding athlete and pole vaulted for their military academy’s team. During plebe year he earned top marks in his class and later joined the Air Force, flying jets in Korea War combat operations. Subsequently he earned a doctorate in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a result of hard work; eventually leading him to gain prominence under his alias of “Dr. Rendezvous.”
Aldrin became known by this moniker throughout his life and eventually made it official as his legal first name in 1988. Additionally, he was known by Buzz and Dr. Rendezvous during his professional life.
Aldrin became part of NASA’s space program in 1961 as an expert at docking and rendezvous, the mainstays of Gemini and Apollo missions. He also excelled at test flying, becoming top rated test pilot of Gemini program with most flights to date; often annoying other astronauts like Jim Lovell with whom he shared Lunar Module Pilot duties on Apollo 11. Due to this intense focus on work he often upset fellow astronauts such as Lovell with whom he shared role of Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 11.
Aldrin had an analytical mind and was highly precise about his work. He could be extremely stubborn at times. Once, when being harassed by conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel, he punched him in the face on a public street. Although at times difficult to work with, Aldrin’s inquisitive nature and knack for solving problems made him an essential member of NASA family.
The Gemini Missions
Gemini Missions were an essential precursor to NASA’s Apollo missions that eventually put astronauts on the moon. Their purpose was to learn more about how long two people could stay in space together, as well as to practice docking of orbiting spacecrafts around Earth.
Aldrin was an expert on the technical side of spaceflight. He graduated from MIT with a Ph.D. in astronautics. His original thesis focusing on line-of-sight guidance techniques for orbital rendezvous and docking. He joined NASA’s Gemini program as its resident expert on rendezvous and docking procedures.
He was also active as a test pilot on the ground, flying F-86 Sabre Jets during combat operations during the Korean War with USAF 22nd Fighter Squadron of USAF, before later doing a tour of duty at Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Germany where he flew experimental aircraft. After leaving NASA in 1971, he became Commandant of Edwards Air Force Base’s Aerospace Research Pilot School before retiring from service at Edwards and entering private business.
He has published six books and numerous articles about space travel. Additionally, he has appeared on multiple TV programs as a frequent public speaker and designed rockets himself before deep sea diving for several months. He served on President Reagan’s Commission on the Future of United States Aerospace Industry as presidential appointee.
In 2011, Aldrin voiced the fearless leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” His performances earned him several awards and honors including having one star for each corner of Hollywood and Vine Streets in Los Angeles named in his honor, as well as having Asteroid 6470 Aldrin and a lunar crater named after him.
The Apollo Missions
In 1966, Aldrin took part in the four-day Gemini 12 mission with James Lovell where he performed three spacewalks totaling five hours each and proved that humans can function in space. Due to his performance during Gemini 12, Aldrin secured himself a position on Apollo 8 where he served as backup to Armstrong.
On July 20, 1969, they created history when they took their first steps onto the Moon, with this historic mission captured on film by a television crew that reached an estimated audience of 600 million worldwide. Other Apollo astronauts would follow them, including Charles “Pete” Conrad and Alan Bean.
After returning to Earth, Aldrin assumed commandantship of Edwards Air Force Base’s Aerospace Research Pilot School and wrote two autobiographies: Return to Earth and Magnificent Desolation which explored his struggle with clinical depression following Apollo 11 mission. Furthermore, he created several forward-looking works such as Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, and No Dream Is Too High that provide his perspective of future space exploration projects.
Since his return from space travel, he spent most of his post-astro career trying to strike a balance between public and private life. A skilled businessman, he was known for being an author, advocate for space exploration and symbol of an aging era. Additionally, he served as an alcoholic recovery spokesman, published poet, avid collector of antique cars and motorcycles.
Aldrin has appeared in various television shows and movies throughout his career, such as 1980s sitcoms “The Fall Guy” and “Punky Brewster.” Additionally, in 1994 he made a cameo as himself on “The Simpsons” episode entitled “Deep Space Homer.” Additionally, Aldrin remained active in advocating human spaceflight, by supporting NASA’s Constellation program to bring people back to the moon and eventually Mars.
Buzz Aldrin’s contributions to space exploration extend far beyond his iconic moonwalk. His technical expertise and innovative thinking played a crucial role in developing docking and rendezvous techniques that were vital to the success of future space missions.