Apollo 11 People


Mission to the Moon:
The remarkable story of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot

This browser does not support the video element.

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was the celebrated pilot of the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle. He and Commander Neil Armstrong successfully landed on the Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969.

Nineteen minutes after Armstrong first stepped foot on the Moon, Aldrin was the second person in history to walk on the Moon

This browser does not support the video element.

Over the course of that eight-day mission, Aldrin, Armstrong, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins were propelled into space by a Saturn V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and traveled to and from the Moon

Armstrong and Aldrin separated the lunar module from the command and service modules, piloting the spacecraft to the Moon. After they landed, they collected rock samples, set up experiments, took photographs, and planted the American flag.

Apollo 11 was Aldrin’s second and final spaceflight. He first orbited Earth in 1966 on the Gemini XII mission, during which he spent over five hours on a spacewalk.

Aldrin earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1951. As one of the highest-ranking members of his graduating class, he was able to choose his assignment.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force and later served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War

Aldrin’s original application to join the NASA Astronaut Corps was rejected because he was not a test pilot.

But the next year, applicants with 1,000 hours of jet aircraft flying time were eligible, and he had more than twice that level of experience.

After completing graduate study at MIT, Aldrin was selected to join NASA’s third group of astronauts in October 1963. He became the first astronaut to hold a doctoral degree.

Aldrin retired from NASA in 1972, but his passion for human spaceflight remains strong. “Mars is waiting to be discovered, not by clever robots and rovers, but by living, breathing, walking, talking, caring, and daring men and women,” he said.

Born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., he arranged for his lifelong nickname, “Buzz”, to become his legal name in 1988. The nickname originated from his sister’s mispronunciation of “brother” as “buzzer” when they were children.