Buzz Aldrin grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. His mother, Marion Moon, was the daughter of an Army Chaplain and his father Edwin Eugene Aldrin was an aviation pioneer. Buzz graduated one year early from Montclair High School and he attended the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating third in his class with a BS in mechanical engineering. He then joined the Air Force where he flew F86 Sabre Jets in 66 combat missions in Korea, shot down two MIG-15′s, and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. After a tour of duty in Germany flying F100′s, he earned his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics at MIT and wrote his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous.
Selected by NASA in 1963 into the third group of astronauts, Aldrin was the first with a doctorate and became known as “Dr. Rendezvous.” The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today. He pioneered underwater training techniques to simulate spacewalking. In 1966 on the Gemini 12 orbital mission, Buzz performed the world’s first successful spacewalk – extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and set a new EVA record of 5 1⁄2 hours. During that mission he also took the first ‘selfie’ in space.
On July 20, 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. An estimated 600 million people – at that time, the world’s largest television audience in history – witnessed this unprecedented heroic endeavor.
Upon returning from the moon, Buzz was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and numerous awards all over the world. Named after Buzz are Asteroid “6470 Aldrin” and the “Aldrin Crater” on the moon. In 2011 along with his Apollo 11 crew mates Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, he received the Congressional Gold Medal.
Buzz is the author of 9 books, most recently his children’s book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet and his newest NY Times and Washington Post Bestseller, “No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon”. Both published by National Geographic.
In October of 2014 he revamped his ShareSpace Foundation to be focused on STEAM Education – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math to ignite the spark and fuel excitement for space in kids –Specifically for K-8. In August of 2015 he launched the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Tech to promote and develop his vision of a permanent human settlement on the planet Mars.
Since retiring from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Col. Aldrin calls himself a Global Statesman for Space and has remained a tireless advocate for human space exploration.
Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon3.56 · Rating details · 1,193 Ratings · 149 Reviews
Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the icoForty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the iconic photograph of Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon, the blackness of space behind him and his fellow explorer and the Eagle reflected in his visor. Describing the alien world he was walking upon, he uttered the words “magnificent desolation.” And as the astronauts later sat in the Eagle, waiting to begin their journey back home, knowing that they were doomed unless every system and part on board worked flawlessly, it was Aldrin who responded to Mission Control’s clearance to take off with the quip, “Roger. Understand. We’re number one on the runway.”
The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous persons on our planet, yet few people know the rest of this true American hero’s story. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the lunar landing that came within seconds of failure and the ultimate insider’s view of life as one of the superstars of America’s space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials–and eventual triumphs–back on Earth. From the glory of being part of the mission that fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon before the decade was out, Aldrin returned home to an Air Force career stripped of purpose or direction, other than as a public relations tool that NASA put to relentless use in a seemingly nonstop world tour. The twin demons of depression and alcoholism emerged–the first of which Aldrin confronted early and publicly, and the second of which he met with denial until it nearly killed him. He burned through two marriages, his Air Force career came to an inglorious end, and he found himself selling cars for a living when he wasn’t drunkenly wrecking them. Redemption came when he finally embraced sobriety, gained the love of a woman, Lois, who would become the great joy of his life, and dedicated himself to being a tireless advocate for the future of space exploration–not only as a scientific endeavor but also as a thriving commercial enterprise.
These days Buzz Aldrin is enjoying life with an enthusiasm that reminds us how far it is possible for a person to travel, literally and figuratively. As an adventure story, a searing memoir of self-destruction and self-renewal, and as a visionary rallying cry to once again set our course for Mars and beyond, Magnificent Desolation is the thoroughly human story of a genuine hero....more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2009)