b. Montclair, N.J. After graduating from West Point (1951), Aldrin joined the U.S. air force and flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War. His doctoral thesis at the Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (1963) on orbital mechanics laid the foundation for flight techniques employed later in the lunar landing program. In 1966 he was selected as an astronaut by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Aldrin was the prime pilot of Gemini 12 (Nov. 11?15, 1966), a 59-revolution flight that brought the Gemini space program to a successful close; his 5-hour space walk established a record for extravehicular activity at that time and proved that a person could function in the weightless vacuum of space. As the lunar module pilot of Apollo 11 (July 16?24, 1969) Aldrin made the first lunar landing with Neil Armstrong, and on July 20 (EDST) became the second person (after Armstrong) to walk on the moon. After retiring from NASA, Aldrin served (1971?72) as commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilots' School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He retired from the Air Force in 1972 to enter private business and to lecture and consult on space exploration.
See his autobiography, Return to Earth (1973) and Men from Earth: The Apollo Project (1989).
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