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Biographies of Apollo 11 Astronauts

Buzz Aldrin | Neil Armstrong | Michael Collins
Other Apollo Astronauts

Buzz Aldrin—Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. (1930- ) was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on 20 January 1930. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, entered the United States Air Force, and received pilot training in 1951. Aldrin flew sixty-six combat missions in F-86s in Korea, destroying two MIG-15 aircraft. Known to all as by his nickname, "Buzz," Aldrin was also one of the most important figures in the accomplishment of Project Apollo in successfully landing an American on the Moon in 1960s.

Aldrin became an astronaut during the selection of the third group by NASA in October 1963. On 11 November 1966 he orbited aboard the Gemini XII spacecraft, a 4-day 59-revolution flight that successfully ended the Gemini program. It proved to be a fortuitous selection, for during Project Gemini Aldrin became one of the key figures working on the problem of rendezvous of spacecraft in Earth or lunar orbit, and docking them together for spaceflight. Without these skills Apollo could not have been successfully completed. Aldin, with a Ph.D. in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was ideally qualified for this work, and his intellectual inclinations ensured that he carried out these tasks with enthusiasm. Systematically and laboriously, Aldrin worked to develop procedures and tools necessary to accomplish space rendezvous and docking. He was also a central figure in devising the methods necessary to carry out extravehicular activities (EVA) of astronauts outside their vehicles. That, too, was critical to the successful accomplishment of Apollo.

Aldrin was chosen as a member of the three-person Apollo 11 crew that landed on the Moon on 20 July 1969, fulfilling the mandate of President John F. Kennedy to send Americans to the Moon before the end of the decade. Aldrin was the second American to set foot on the lunar surface. He and Apollo 11 commander Neil A. Armstrong spent about twenty hours on the Moon before returning to the orbiting Apollo Command Module. The spacecraft and the lunar explorers returned to Earth on 24 July 1969.

In 1971 Aldrin returned to the Air Force and retired a year later. He wrote two important books about his activities in the U.S. space program. In Return to Earth (1970), Aldrin recounted the flight of Apollo 11. In the more broadly constructed Men from Earth (1989), Aldrin discussed the entire space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. He has been an important analyst of the space program since the 1960s. He lives near Los Angeles, California.
 
 

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Neil Armstrong - Neil Alden Armstrong  (1930-2012) was born on 5 August 1930 on his grandparents' farm near Wapakoneta, Ohio, to Stephen and Viola Armstrong.  Because Armstrong's father was an auditor for the State of Ohio, Armstrong grew up in several communities, including Warren, Jefferson, Ravenna, St. Marys, and Upper Sandusky, before the family settled in Wapakoneta.

Armstrong developed an interest in flying at only age two when his father took him to the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio. His interest intensified when he went for his first airplane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor, a "Tin Goose," in Warren, Ohio, at age six. From that time on, he claimed an intense fascination with aviation.

At age fifteen, Armstrong began taking flying lessons at an airport north of Wapakoneta, working at various jobs in town and at the airport to earn the money for lessons in an Aeronca Champion airplane. By age sixteen, he had his student pilot's  license, before he even passed his automobile driver's test and received that license and   before he graduated from Blume High School in Wapakoneta in 1947.

Immediately after high school Armstrong received a scholarship from the U.S. Navy. He enrolled at Purdue University and began his studies of aeronautical engineering. In 1949, the Navy called him to active duty, where he became an aviator, and in 1950, he was sent to Korea. There he flew seventy-eight combat missions from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Essex.

After mustering out of the Navy in 1952, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). His first assignment was at the NACA's Lewis Reserch Center, near Cleveland, Ohio. Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory (later NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, and today the Glenn Research Center) in 1955. For the next seventeen years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut, and administrator for the NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In the mid-1950s Armstrong transferred to NASA's Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, where he became a research pilot NACA's High-Speed Flight Station (today, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center) at Edwards Air Force Base in California as an aeronautical research scientist and then as a pilot on many pioneering high-speed aircraft, including the well-known, 4,000-mph X-15. He flew over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters, and gliders. While there he also pursued graduate studies, and received a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.

Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962, one of nine NASA astronauts in the second class to be chosen. He moved to El Lago, Texas, near Houston's Manned  Spacecraft Center, to begin his astronaut training. There he underwent four years of intensive training for the Apollo program to land an American on the Moon before the end of the decade.

On 16 March 1966, Armstrong flew his first space mission as command pilot of Gemini VIII with David Scott. During that mission Armstrong piloted the Gemini VIII spacecraft to a successful docking with an Agena target spacecraft already in orbit. While the docking went smoothly and the two craft orbited together, they began to pitch and roll wildly. Armstrong was able to undock the Gemini and used the retro rockets to regain control of his craft, but the astronauts had to make an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean.

As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first piloted lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first person to step on the surface of the Moon. On 16 July 1969, Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin began their trip to the Moon. Collins was the Command Module pilot and navigator for the mission. Aldrin, a systems expert, was the Lunar Module pilot and became the second person to walk on the Moon. As commander of Apollo 11, Armstrong piloted
the Lunar Module to a safe landing on the Moon's surface. On 20 July 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the Moon and made his famous statement, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and Aldrin spent about two and one-half hours walking on the Moon collecting samples, doing experiments, and taking photographs. On 24 July 1969, the three men splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. They were picked up by the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Hornet.

The three Apollo 11 astronauts were honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City soon after returning to Earth. Armstrong received the Medal of Freedom, the highest award offered to a U.S. civilian. Armstrong's other awards coming in the wake of the Apollo 11 mission included the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, seventeen medals from other countries, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s. In that position, he was responsible for the coordination and management of overall NASA research and technology work related to aeronautics.

After resigning from NASA in 1971, he became a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati from 1971 to 1979. During the years 1982-1992, Armstrong served as chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., in Charlottesville, Virginia. He then became chairman of the board of AIL Systems, Inc., an electronics systems company in Deer Park, New York. Armstrong died on Aug. 25, 2012 at the age of 82 due to complications relating to recent cardiovascular bypass procedures.

Click here for more information on
Armstrong's career as a research pilot
 

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Michael Collins—Michael Collins (1930- ) was born on October 30, 1930, in Rome, Italy. He later moved to Washington, D.C., where he graduated from St. Albans School. In 1952, he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and received his bachelor of science degree.

Prior to joining NASA, Collins served as a fighter pilot and an experimental test pilot at the Air Force Flight Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. From 1959 to1963 he logged more than 4,200 hours of flying time.

In October 1963, Michael Collins became one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA. He served as a pilot on the three-day Gemini X mission, launched July 18, 1966. During this mission, he set a world altitude record and became the nation’s third spacewalker while completing two extravehicular activities (EVA).

His second flight was as Command Module pilot of the historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. He remained in lunar orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the Moon. His role in the Apollo mission earned him many awards and accolades, including the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 1969. 

In January 1970, Collins left NASA to become the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. A year later he joined the Smithsonian Institution as the Director of the National Air and Space Museum, where he remained for seven years. While in this position, he was responsible for the construction of the new museum building, which opened to the public in July 1976, ahead of schedule and below its budgeted cost. In April 1978, Collins became Under Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1980, he became the Vice President of the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company, resigning in 1985 to start his own firm.

Collins has completed two spaceflights, logging 266 hours in space, of which 1 hour and 27 minutes was spent in EVA. He has written about his experiences in the space program in several books, including Carrying the Fire and Flying to the Moon and other Strange Places. In 1988, he wrote Liftoff: the Story of America’s Adventure in Space. Today he is an aerospace consultant and writer.

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Biographies of Other Apollo Astronauts

Bill Anders—ANDERS, William A., Major General, U.S. Air Force Reserve (Retired)

Born October 17, 1933, in Hong Kong.

Bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from U.S. Naval Academy; master of science in nuclear engineering from Air Force Institute of Technology.

Flew on Apollo 8.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 147.
 
 

Alan Bean—BEAN, Alan L., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from University of Texas.

Flew on Apollo 12 and Skylab 3.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 1,671.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 10 hours.
 
 

Frank Borman—BORMAN, Frank, Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born March 14, 1928, in Gary, Indiana.

Bachelor of science from U.S. Military Academy; master of science in aeronautical engineering from California Institute of Technology.

Flew on Gemini VII and Apollo 8.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 477.
 
 

Roger Chafee—CHAFFEE, Roger B., Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy

Born February 15, 1935, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University.

Died January 27, 1967, at NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in the Apollo spacecraft fire.
 
 

Gene Cernan—CERNAN, Eugene A., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born March 14, 1934, in Chicago, Illinois.

Bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Purdue University; master of science in aeronautical engineering from U.S. Navy Postgraduate School.

Flew on Gemini IX, Apollo 10, and Apollo 17.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 566.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 73 hours.
 
 

Pete Conrad—CONRAD, Charles, Jr., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born June 2, 1930, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University.

Flew on Gemini V, Gemini XI, Apollo 12, and Skylab 2.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 1,179.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 14 hours.
 
 

Walter Cunningham—CUNNINGHAM, Walter, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (Retired)

Born March 16, 1932, in Creston, Iowa.

Bachelor and master of arts in physics from University of California at Los Angeles; Advanced Management Program, Harvard Graduate School of Business.

Flew on Apollo 7.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 263.
 
 

Charlie Duke—DUKE, Charles M., Jr., Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born October 3, 1935, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bachelor of science in naval sciences from U.S. Naval Academy; master of science in aeronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Flew on Apollo 16.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 265.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 20 hours.
 
 

Donn Eisele—EISELE, Donn F., Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born June 23, 1930, in Columbus, Ohio.

Bachelor of science in astronautics from U.S. Naval Academy; master of science in astronautics from U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

Flew on Apollo 7.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 260.

Died December 2, 1987, in Tokyo, Japan, of a heart attack.
 
 

Ron Evans—EVANS, Ronald E., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born November 10, 1933, in St. Francis, Kansas.

Bachelor of science in electrical engineering from University of Kansas; master of science in aeronautical engineering from U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

Flew on Apollo 17.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 301.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 1 hour.

Died April 6, 1990, in Scottsdale, Arizona, of a heart attack.
 
 

Richard Gordon—GORDON, Richard F., Jr., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born October 5, 1929, in Seattle, Washington.

Bachelor of science in chemistry from University of Washington; honorary doctorate of science from Niagara University.

Flew on Gemini XI and Apollo 12.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 315.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 1 hour.
 
 

Gus Grissom—Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom (1927-1967) was chosen with the first group of astronauts in 1959. He was the pilot for the 1961 Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7) mission, a suborbital flight; command pilot for Gemini 3; backup command pilot for Gemini VI; and had been selected as commander of the first Apollo flight at the time of his death in the Apollo 204 fire on 27 January 1967. Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 5. 
 
 

Fred Haise—HAISE, Fred W., Jr., Civilian

Born November 14, 1933, in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from University of Oklahoma.

Flew on Apollo 13 and Space Shuttle approach and landing tests 1, 3, and 5.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 142.
 
 

Jim Irwin—IRWIN, James B., Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born March 17, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bachelor of science in naval science from U.S. Naval Academy; master of science in aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from University of Michigan.

Flew on Apollo 15.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 295.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 18 hours.

Died August 8, 1991, of a heart attack.
 
 

Jim Lovell—LOVELL, James A., Jr., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born March 25, 1928, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Bachelor of science from U.S. Naval Academy; Advanced Management Program, Harvard Graduate School of Business.

Flew on Gemini VII, Gemini XII, Apollo 8, and Apollo 13.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 715.
 
 

T.K. Mattingly—MATTINGLY, Thomas K., II, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Born March 17, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Auburn University.

Flew on Apollo 16, STS-4, and STS 51-C.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 508.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 1 hour.
 
 

Jim McDivitt—McDIVITT, James A., Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born June 10, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from University of Michigan.

Flew on Gemini IV and Apollo 9, and was the Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 338.
 
 

Edgar Mitchell—MITCHELL, Edgar D., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born September 17, 1930, in Hereford, Texas.

Bachelor of science in industrial management from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University); bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from U.S. Naval Postgraduate School; doctorate of science in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Flew on Apollo 14.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 216.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 9 hours.
 
 

Stuart Roosa—ROOSA, Stuart A., Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born August 16, 1933, in Durango, Colorado.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from University of Colorado.

Flew on Apollo 14.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 216.

Died December 12, 1994.
 
 

Wally Schirra—SCHIRRA, Walter M., Jr., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Born March 12, 1923, in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Bachelor of science from U.S. Naval Academy; graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Flew on Mercury 8, Gemini VI, and Apollo 7.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 295.
 
 

Harrison Schmitt—SCHMITT, Harrison H., Civilian

Born July 3, 1935, in Santa Rita, New Mexico.

Bachelor of science in geology from California Institute of Technology; doctorate of philosophy in geology from Harvard University.

Flew on Apollo 17.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 301.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 22 hours.
 
 

Russell Schweikart—SCHWEICKART, Russell L.,Civilian

Born October 25, 1935 in Neptune, New Jersey.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; master of science in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Flew on Apollo 9.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 241.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 1 hour.
 
 

Dave Scott—SCOTT, David R., Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born June 6, 1932, in San Antonio, Texas.

Bachelor of science from U.S. Military Academy; master of science in aeronautics and astronautics and engineer in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Flew on Gemini VIII, Apollo 9, and Apollo 15.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 546.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 20 hours.
 
 

Alan Shepard—Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (1923-1998) was born November 18, 1923, in East Derry, New Hampshire. He received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy. Shepard was a member of the first group of seven astronauts in 1959 chosen to participate in Project Mercury. He became the first American in space, with a suborbital flight aboard his Freedom 7 Mercury spacecraft on 5 May 1961. He also commanded Apollo 14 in 1971, when he landed on the Moon. His cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 216 and cumulative EVA time is more than 9 hours. 
 
 

Tom Stafford—STAFFORD, Thomas P., Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born September 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Bachelor of science from U.S. Naval Academy.

Flew on Gemini VI, Gemini IX, Apollo 10, and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 507.
 
 

Jack Swigert—SWIGERT, John L., Jr., Civilian

Born August 30, 1931, in Denver, Colorado.

Bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from University of Colorado; master of science in aerospace science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; master of business administration from Hartford College.

Flew on Apollo 13.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 142.

Died December 27, 1982.
 
 

Ed White—WHITE, Edward H., II, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Born November 14, 1930, in San Antonio, Texas.

Bachelor of science from U.S. Military Academy; master of science in aeronautical engineering from University of Michigan.

Flew on Gemini IV.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 97.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 23 minutes.

Died January 27, 1967, at NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in the Apollo spacecraft fire.
 
 

Al Worden—WORDEN, Alfred M., Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Born February 7, 1932, in Jackson, Michigan.

Bachelor of science in military science from U.S. Military Academy; master of science in astronautical and aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from University of Michigan.

Flew on Apollo 15.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 295.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 39 minutes.
 
 

John Young—YOUNG, John W., Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired) Pilot

Born September 24, 1930, in San Francisco, California.

Bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Flew on Gemini 3, Gemini X, Apollo 10, Apollo 16, STS-1, and STS-9.

Cumulative hours of spaceflight are more than 835.

Cumulative EVA time is more than 20 hours (on the Moon).
 
 

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