Buzz Aldrin: The Moon Walker

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buzz-aldrin

Buzz Aldrin is an American engineer and former 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 on July 21, 1969, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. He is also a former U.S. Air Force officer and a Command Pilot.

Buzz Aldrin was born on January 20, 1930, in Montclair, New Jersey. His father, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, encouraged his interest in flight. Aldrin became a fighter pilot and flew in the Korean War. In 1963, he was selected by NASA to for the next Gemini mission. In 1969, along with Neil Armstrong, they made history with the Apollo 11 mission when they walked on the moon. Aldrin later worked in shaping space-faring technology and working as an author, penning titles like his memoir Return to Earth.

Space Flight

His specialized study of rendezvous helped to earn him entry into the space program shortly after graduation. In 1963, Aldrin was part of a third group of men selected by NASA to attempt to pioneer space flight. Aldrin was put in charge of creating docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecraft. He also pioneered underwater training techniques, to simulate flight in zero gravity.

In 1966, Aldrin and astronaut Jim Lovell were assigned to the Gemini 12 crew. During their November 11 to November 15, 1966, space flight, Aldrin made a five-hour spacewalk, the longest and most successful spacewalk ever done up to that time. He also used his rendezvous abilities to manually recalculate all the docking maneuvers on the flight, after the on-board radar failed.

After Gemini 12, Aldrin was assigned to the back-up crew of Apollo 8 along with Neil Armstrong and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt. For the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, Aldrin served as the lunar module pilot. On July 20, 1969, he made history as the second man to walk on the moon, following mission commander Armstrong, who took the first step on the lunar surface. They spent a total of 21 hours during the moonwalk, and returned with 46 pounds of moon rocks. The walk, which was televised, drew an estimated 600 million people to watch, becoming the world's largest television audience in history.

Upon their safe return to Earth, Buzz was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, followed by a 45-day international goodwill tour. Among their distinguished honors and medals, Buzz and his Apollo 11 crew also have four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.

Later Career

In March 1972, after 21 years of service, Aldrin retired from active duty and returned to the Air Force in a managerial role. He later admitted in his 1973 autobiography, Return to Earth, which he struggled with depression and alcoholism following his years with NASA. He devised a spacecraft system for missions to Mars known as the "Aldrin Mars Cycler," and has received three U.S. patents for his schematics of a modular space station, Starbooster reusable rockets, and multi-crew modules. He also founded ShareSpace Foundation; a nonprofit devoted to advancing space education, exploration and affordable space flight experiences.

Aldrin has also written several more books. In addition to his autobiography, the astronaut penned Magnificent Desolation, a memoir that hit bookshelves in 2009, just in time for the 40th anniversary of his historic moon landing. He has also written several children's books, including Reaching for the Moon and Look to the Stars; two science-fiction novels, The Return and Encounter with Tiber; and the historical account, Men from Earth.

Recent Years

Now in his 80s, Aldrin still maintains a busy schedule. He gives lectures and makes numerous appearances. Aldrin competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2010, showing the world that the senior astronaut still has some impressive moves. He has also had guest spots on such shows as 30 Rock, and collaborated with Snoop Dogg to create the song "Rocket Experience" to promote space exploration to young people. He has acted in several Television serials like Space brothers, The Big Bang Theory, Space Cadet and many more.

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". 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." In 2009, Aldrin commented on climate change by saying: "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."

Mission to Mars

Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration is the latest book written by Buzz Aldrin and Leonard David which was published on 7th May, 2013. This book is a blend of reminisces, snippets of mission and policy concepts, and revisited analyses of the space landscape to-date. Buzz Aldrin comments that it is time human keeps foot at Mars, he states that it is time we also conquer Mars. The book was released under the name of National Geographic books.