Buzz Aldrin, American astronaut was born in Montclair, New Jersey.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. (1951), Aldrin became an air force pilot. He flew 66 combat missions in Korea and later served in West Germany. In 1963 he wrote a dissertation on orbital mechanics to earn his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. Later that year he was chosen as an astronaut. On Nov. 11, 1966, he joined James A. Lovell, Jr., on the four-day Gemini 12 flight. Aldrin’s 5 1/2-hour walk in space proved that man can function effectively in the vacuum of space. Apollo 11, manned by Aldrin, Neil A. Armstrong, and Michael Collins, was launched to the Moon on July 16, 1969. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin landed near the edge of Mare Tranquillitatis. After spending about two hours in gathering rock samples, taking photographs, and setting up scientific equipment for tests, the astronauts concluded their excursion on the surface. Armstrong and Aldrin later piloted the Lunar Module to a successful rendezvous with Collins and the Command Module in lunar orbit. The mission ended on July 24, with splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Aldrin retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1971 to become commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilots’ School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. In March 1972 he retired from the Air Force to enter private business. He wrote an autobiographical book, Return to Earth (1973).