Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr.; January 20, 1930) is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. On July 20, 1969, he was the second human being to set foot on the Moon, following mission commander Neil Armstrong.
Aldrin was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Sr., a career military man, and his wife Marion Moon. He is of Scottish, Swedish, and German ancestry. After graduating fromMontclair High School in 1946, Aldrin turned down a full scholarship offer from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The nickname "Buzz" originated in childhood: the younger of his two elder sisters mispronounced "brother" as "buzzer", and this was shortened to Buzz. Aldrin made it his legal first name in the 1980s.
Aldrin was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts in October 1963. After the deaths of the original Gemini 9 prime crew, Elliot See and Charles Bassett, Aldrin was promoted with Jim Lovell to back-up crew for the mission. The main objective of the revised mission (Gemini 9A) was to rendezvous and dock with a target vehicle, but when this failed, Aldrin improvised an effective exercise for the craft to rendezvous with a coordinate in space. He was confirmed as pilot on Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission and the last chance to prove methods for EVA. Aldrin set a record for extra-vehicular activity and proved that astronauts could work outside spacecraft. Aldrin's lunar footprint in a photo taken by him on July 20, 1969On July 20, 1969, he was the second astronaut to walk on the moon and the first to have also spacewalked, keeping his record total EVA time until that was surpassed on Apollo 14. There has been much speculation about Aldrin's desire at the time to be the first astronaut to walk on the moon. According to different NASA accounts, he had originally been proposed as the first to step onto the Moon's surface, but due to the physical positioning of the astronauts inside the compact Lunar Landing Module, it was easier for the commander, Neil Armstrong, to be the first to exit the spacecraft. There was also a desire on NASA's part for the first person to step onto the Moon's surface be a civilian, which Armstrong was.Buzz Aldrin was the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon, however - a Communion. Aldrin is, as he was, a Presbyterian. After landing on the moon, Aldrin radioed Earth: "I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." He gave himself Communion on the surface of the Moon, but kept it secret because of a lawsuit brought by atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair over the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8. Aldrin, a church elder, used a pastor's home Communion kit given to him byDean Woodruff and recited words used by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church. Webster Presbyterian Church, a local congregation in Webster, Texas (aHouston suburb near the Johnson Space Center) possesses the chalice used for communion on the moon, and commemorates the event annually on the Sunday closest to July 20.