Thirty-nine years ago, on July 20, 1969, two ultra-geeks landed upon Luna, Earth’s moon. Their mission was called Apollo 11. While the vast majority of the press at the time was devoted to Armstrong actually setting foot upon the Moon, the really crucial aspect of the landing on the Sea of Tranquility was just that, the landing. This day commemorates the culmination of the science, technology, and massive national effort that went into the American Space Program. In commemoration, we salute the second man to walk upon Luna, the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 11: Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.
Born in Montclair, New Jersey, Aldrin’s parents in their own way foreshadowed his Lunar Destiny. His mother’s maiden name was Moon. His father, Edwin Sr., was a student of Robert Goddard. Aldrin graduated third in his class from West Point and flew 66 combat missions in the Korean Conflict (okay, not very geeky). Aldrin earned a doctorate from MIT in Astronautics and devised techniques used in all of the NASA missions (as geeky as it gets).
As an astronaut, Aldrin flew missions for Gemini and Apollo. He distinguished himself setting a new record for EVA, Extra-Vehicular Activity. Aldrin only wound up being the second man on the moon because Armstrong’s seat was closest to the exit hatch on the Lunar Module. Still, all the photos of a man walking on Luna from the Apollo 11 mission were actually of Aldrin, taken by Armstrong’s chest-mounted camera.
Did I mention he was a marine? He may be 78 years old, but I wouldn’t go suggesting to him that the mission that he risked his life on, that the death of his friends from the Apollo 1 disaster, was all for a hoax. He might just punch you out.
(source: buzzaldrin.com, "From the Earth to the Moon", YouTube, and my Dad)