The pilot of the Apollo 11 lunar lander Eagle, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin was one of the three Apollo 11 astronauts and the second person to set foot on the Moon. 

An iconic image

One of the most reproduced NASA images, this photograph of an Apollo 11 astronaut on the Moon shows Buzz Aldrin. Neil Armstrong served as photographer—he can be seen reflected in Aldrin’s visor. Aldrin recalled Armstrong saying, “Stop and turn.” In this spontaneous picture, Aldrin’s arm is raised, perhaps to read the checklist sewn onto his left glove.

The image of Aldrin as Moonman became an iconic symbol of American accomplishment and was reproduced in books, films, television, and items of popular culture.

More about the Moonman

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the Moon. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera.

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One of the first steps taken on the Moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin's bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

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Portrait of the prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. From left to right they are: Commander, Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot, Buzz Aldrin.

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This interior view of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module shows Buzz Aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot, during the lunar landing mission. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

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President Richard M. Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Already confined to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) are (left to right) Neil Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot. Apollo 11 splashed down at 11:49 a.m. (CDT), July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the U.S.S. Hornet. The three crew men will remain in the MQF until they arrive at the Manned Spacecraft Center's (MSC) Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL). While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Collins remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar-orbit.

In Conversation with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins

What was it like to be in the command module as the Apollo 11 mission blasted into space? To be one of the first humans to walk on the moon?

Buzz Aldrin, together with Michael Collins, shares his memories of making history. 

Aldrin and Apollo 11 in the Collection

Pressure Suit, A7-L, Aldrin, Apollo 11, Flown Object Helmet, EV, Aldrin, Apollo 11 Object Headset, Communications Carrier, Aldrin, Apollo 11 Object Glove, Left, A7-L, Extravehicular, Apollo 11, Aldrin, Flown Object Penlight, Aldrin, Apollo 11 Object Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia Object Capsule, Gemini XII Object

Originally, Aldrin was rejected from NASA because he was not a test pilot. However, the following year, applicants with over 1,000 hours of jet aircraft flying time were eligible, and with more than twice that time the former jet fighter pilot was more than qualified.

Aldrin was selected to join NASA's third group of astronauts in October 1963, after completing this graduate degree at MIT. He was the first astronaut with a doctoral degree.

Buzz Aldrin's Ph.D Thesis

In January 1963, six and a half years before the first Moon landing, Aldrin earned a degree of Doctor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for his 311-page thesis “Line-of-Sight Guidance Techniques for Manned Orbital Rendezvous.” At the time he was a Major in the U.S. Air Force and had yet to be selected as an astronaut.

Learn more about Aldrin's thesis

Apollo 11 was not Buzz Aldrin's first spaceflight. He previously traveled to space as part of Gemini XII, when Aldrin performed three EVAs (extravehicular activity, activity outside the spacecraft) including spending over five hours on a spacewalk.

More About Aldrin's Journey