Happy Birthday Buzz Aldrin: Remembering the Astronaut’s Historic Achievements

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Harmony Gerber/Getty Images)

America celebrates former astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s 92nd birthday, and the second person to walk on the moon has many historic achievements.

Buzz Aldrin Has Done Quite A Bit In 92 Years

First of all, the 1951 U.S. Military Academy graduate became an Air Force pilot and served in the Korean war. He flew 66 combat missions while shooting down two jets and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.

By 1963, he got his doctorate at MIT and soon became an astronaut. Buzz Aldrin was the first astronaut doctor in space.

The two that stand out the most involve space of all his accomplishments.

First, Aldrin performed the world’s first successful extravehicular activity (EVA) spacewalk in 1966. He was on the Gemini 12 orbital mission and set a record for three spacewalks for 5-and-a-half hours. The spacewalks prove that humans can function effectively in space.

Second, Buzz Aldrin joined Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 feat to become the second person to walk on the moon. The New Jersey native did his on July 20, 1969. 

Other notables include being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to have visited the North (1998) and South Pole (2016). He also has an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program for footage they shot during the Apollo 11 moon landing. The footage aired in the 2020 CNN documentary “Apollo 11.” Finally, the man has three patents involving space station technology and flight.

Oh, he also took the first selfie in space. According to Mental Floss, the astronaut also ate snacks on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin Wasn’t Astronaut’s Original Name

According to the former astronaut’s website, Buzz wasn’t his original name. It used to be Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., but he changed it to Buzz legally in the 1980s.

The legend goes that, in growing up in New Jersey, the man’s sister, Fay Ann, used to mispronounce “brother” as “buzzer.” Soon, it became Buzz in 1988. In another odd twist, Buzz’s mom’s name was Marion Moon.

Finally, Buzz Aldrin picked up one more nickname. Aldrin was known as the academic one out of three Apollo 11 astronauts. Some called the man “egghead” during those space preparations and flights

But, according to his website, he was called Dr. Rendezvous, too. It had something to do with his doctoral dissertation.

The MIT graduate hoped to go to space. At the time, NASA only hired experienced test pilots, and Aldrin’s fighter pilot experience was not enough. 

So, to increase his chances, Aldrin wrote his doctoral thesis on a hot topic: How could two spaceships rendezvous or connect to each other out in space

Luckily, it worked. The astronaut got into NASA the second time he applied.