Mechanical engineer, U.S. Air Force pilot, decorated war veteran, graduate of MIT with a PhD in Astronautics, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut, inventor, Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee, author of books for children, teens and adults, and passionate advocate for space exploration and science education (his iPod and iPad apps "Buzz Aldrin Portal to Science and Space Exploration" are best sellers), Buzz Aldrin is all that — a true American hero.
Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin was born in 1930, the son of aviation pioneer and Air Force Colonel Edwin Eugene Aldrin. His mother, Marion Moon, was the daughter of an Army chaplain. He grew up flying. Aldrin's memorable nickname came from one of his sisters who mispronounced "brother" as "buzzer" which was eventually shortened to Buzz.
Aldrin has always been an inventor. At NASA, he evised critical docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit and are still used today. He also pioneered underwater training techniques to simulate spacewalking.
But Aldrin is most famous for piloting the Lunar Module 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. The two astronauts spent 21 hours on the Moon's surface and returned to Earth with 46 pounds of moon rocks. In recognition of his bravery and achievements, Buzz was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American peacetime award.
Since retiring from NASA and the Air Force, Aldrin remains one of the leading public advocates for future space exploration advocates and educating a new generation of scientists and explorers. He founded the ShareSpace Foundation in 1998, whose mission is to advance space science education and make affordable space travel opportunities for all.
Aldrin is also a best-selling author. His illustrated children's books: Reaching for the Moon and Look to the Stars, both topped the New York Times best seller list. He has written an inspiring autobiography (Magnificent Desolation); an account of the space race and his first-hand experience flying both the Gemini and Apollo missions (Men from Earth); and two space science fiction novels co-authored with John Barnes (Encounter with Tiber and The Return).