Today marks the 85th birthday of famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin, visionary rocket scientist, pilot, inventor, author, activist, father, husband and legendary Apollo 11 moonwalker.
Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. was born Jan. 20, 1930, in Montclair, N.J., and had his head lost in the clouds from a very young age. A colonel in the Air Force who received the Distinguished Flying Cross award for his combat prowess in the Korean War, Aldrin went on to attain his Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT in 1963. He joined NASA after graduation and entered the space program as a valued asset. In 1966 as part of the Gemini 12 crew with astronaut Jim Lovell, Aldrin set a new world record for spacewalks with a 5-1/2-hour excursion outside their capsule. While a member of the historic Apollo 11 crew along with Cmdr. Neil Armstrong and command module pilot Michael Collins, Aldrin acted as the lunar module pilot and became the second human to set foot on the moon, following Armstrong down the lunar module's ladder on July 20, 1969. Since one of Armstrong's duties was to document their activities of the lunar surface, most of the iconic images of the astronauts' moon activities were of Buzz.
Still as relevant today as in those glory days when the world trembled at the thunder of our rockets, Aldrin remains an engaging, inspirational force in our country's unwavering focus on science education in schools and campaigning for the privatization of commercial space travel for continued exploration of our solar system and beyond. His personal website is a treasure of Apollo program memorabilia, books and scheduled speaking engagements, along with a merchandise shop where you can buy your own "Get Your Ass to Mars" T-shirt and autographed moon landing photos.
To help celebrate the day, here's a collection of vintage snapshots pulled from NASA and Apollo 11 archives showing Buzz with his fellow astronaut crewmembers Armstrong and Collins testing, training and tromping around on the "magnificent desolation" of the moon.
From all mankind, happy birthday, Buzz!!