FAQ

What you always wanted to know

Who is the astronaut in the famous visor shot?
The iconic image is of Buzz, taken by Neil Armstrong during their historic moonwalk on July 20, 1969. One of Neil’s tasks was to document the moonwalk, so the vast majority of the first lunar landing photos are of Buzz. The unique feature of the Visor photo is that you can see the reflection of the Eagle Lander and of Neil snapping the shot in the visor of Buzz’s helmet.
What is Buzz Aldrin’s real name?
Buzz Aldrin’s real name is, in fact, Buzz Aldrin. He had it legally changed to Buzz in the early 80′s from his given name Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. The name “Buzz” evolved from his sister Fay Ann’s mispronunciation of the word “brother” which became “Buzzer.” By fate, or by coincidence, his mothers’ name was Marion Moon.

What was it like to walk on the moon?
As Buzz backed down the ladder of the Eagle Lander and first set foot onto the moon, he gazed at the lunar landscape and spontaneously remarked to Houston, “Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation.”

Does Buzz still see the other lunar astronauts?
Buzz is in contact with many of the other astronauts and has had occasion to visit with them during periodic Apollo reunions. He sees Neil when passing through Ohio and recently took a salmon fishing trip to Alaska with Mike Collins. Of the 24 astronauts that orbited the moon or landed on its surface, 18 are still living.

Where can I find a moon rock?
NASA recently presented each of the Apollo astronauts with the Ambassador of Exploration Award – including a moon rock to be donated to the museum of their choice. Buzz donated his moon rock to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. You can also find three on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, as well as one at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. that you can actually touch.

What has Buzz been doing since the moon landing?
Designing rockets, deep sea exploring, speaking all over the world for privatizing space and stimulating support for America’s space program. Buzz is as active today as when he walked on the moon. He has written six books and numerous articles advocating concepts for the future of space travel. He served as a presidential appointee to the Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. He appears frequently on television as a commentator.

Did Buzz Aldrin inspire the Disney character Buzz Lightyear?
Yes, “to infinity and beyond!” In fact Disney asked Buzz to give some space travel tips to Buzz Lightyear for his 2008 shuttle flight to the International Space Station to help celebrate NASA’s 50th Anniversary. Aldrin willingly agreed, but of course reminded Lightyear who the “real” Buzz was!

Does Buzz still like to explore?
Absolutely! Since returning from the moon, Buzz keeps his love of exploration alive: A deep sea dive 2 ½ miles down in a yellow French minisubmarine, the Nautile, to the ruins of the Titanic; An expedition to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker along with “20/20”host Hugh Downs; On his list of future destinations to explore – a journey to the South Pole.

Read more in Exploring the Titanic: Buzz Aldrin goes from Astronaut to Argonaut.

What is Buzz’s vision for the future of human space exploration?
Dr. Aldrin actively supports America’s return to the moon and human missions to Mars to establish permanent settlements. He also advocates international cooperation and space tourism as essential elements to the future of exploration. He founded ShareSpace Foundation to advance opportunities for civilian space travel via a space lottery program.

Read more about Buzz’s vision for the future in Advocacy, and learn about his rocket designs to take us there in Rocket Science.

I’ve heard that the MTV Video Music Award statuette is named after Buzz. Is this true?
Yes, the VMA “Moonman” award has been alternately referred to as the “Buzzy” and images of Buzz on the moon were used for MTV’s original station identification. In fact, the network aired “20 Things You Didn’t Know About the VMA’s” as part of the 20th Anniversary of their awards show, featuring Buzz as the inspiration for the “Moonman” statuette. MTV former President Tom Freston is a personal fan of Buzz’s, and recently presented him with the statuette inscribed “To the original Moonman.”

Does Buzz still pilot planes?
Buzz’s flying experiences include: USAF fighter pilot in the Korean War flying F-86 Sabre Jets, USAF tour of duty in Germany flying F-100’s as D-Flight commander in the “Big 22”, Gemini 12 Mission Pilot, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 11, testing experimental aircraft as Commander of the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, and a brief stint in the 1970’s at Santa Monica Airport Flight School flying a Cessna. More recently he has taken the controls of an F-16 with his former 22nd Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.

Would Buzz want to return to the moon, or go to Mars?
In a recent CNN interview with Miles O’Brien, Buzz he’d take the leap on a 4-day journey back to the moon. He’d like to check on how that American flag is holding up that he and Neil planted in 1969. As much as he’d love to go to Mars, it’s a “much longer duration mission.” He’s had his space trips, and now is working so you can go too, and have the chance to be among those who walk on Mars.