Buzz Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon, emerging soon after Neil Armstrong took the first lunar steps. Aldrin instantly became a celebrity, with people becoming intimately familiar with his biography. Interesting facts about Buzz Aldrin range from the origin of his nickname to him not making it into NASA's astronaut program until the third try. He also struggled greatly after leaving NASA in 1971.
Aldrin has done everything from write novels to fly combat missions, and almost everything in between. He's gotten sober, feuded with companies that used his image without permission, punched a moon landing denier, and criticized NASA's current mission priorities. He's also been an advocate for manned space exploration - and for science education.Here are some interesting and little known Buzz Aldrin facts, one of the most fascinating figures in American history.
His Nickname Had Nothing to Do with a Haircut
Buzz Aldrin was born on January 20, 1930 as Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. The name "Buzz" came from one of his sisters, who mispronounced "brother" as "buzzer." The shortened version of that caught on with the family, and it stuck. Aldrin legally changed his name to Buzz in 1988.
His Mother's Maiden Name Was "Moon"
In what was either a portent of what was to come or just a fun coincidence, Aldrin's mother Marion was born Marion Gaddys Moon in 1903. Sadly, she committed suicide in 1968, one year before her son went to the moon.
Aldrin Turned Down MIT
Aldrin attended the United States Military Academy at West Point starting in 1947, but he also had a full-ride scholarship offer from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Aldrin would eventually attend MIT in the early '60s, obtaining his doctorate in astronautics in 1963.
He Was a Combat Pilot in Korea
After graduating from West Point in 1951, Aldrin was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. He was assigned to Korea, and flew 66 combat missions in an F-86 Sabre jet fighter. He shot down two MiG 15 fighters, and won a number of prestigious medals, including the Presidential Unit Citation.