New Jersey’s Buzz Aldrin Lifts Off for the Moon — 50 Years Later
It was 50 years ago that New Jersey native Buzz Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, took off from the Kennedy Space Center on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Buzz Aldrin was born in Glen Ridge and grew up in Montclair. He attended the US Military Academy in West Point, graduating third in his class. After receiving his appointment, he became a decorated fighter pilot during the Korean War. He was rejected in his first attempt to become an astronaut but was accepted in the next round of selections; he successfully completed his mission aboard Gemini 12, performing "extravehicular activity”, going outside the spacecraft. He was then assigned to the Apollo program; the crew was led by Neil Armstrong as Commander. Aldrin was the Lunar Module Pilot.
On July 16th, 1969, with millions of people around the world watching, Apollo 11 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida courtesy of a Saturn V rocket. It took three days for the spacecraft to enter lunar orbit; Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took the Lunar Module to the surface of the moon where Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon and Aldrin became the second. The pair spent over 21 hours on the Moon in an area named the Sea of Tranquility. The Command Module orbited the Moon 30 times before successfully returning to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24th.
In 2002 he made news when a conspiracy theorist who maintained that the Moon landing was faked accosted him in California; after a brief scuffle, Aldrin punched him in the jaw. No charges were filed.
Buzz Aldrin was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2008.