Buzz spent 93 minutes walking on the surface of the moon, and has now traveled 93 times around the sun.
The second man on the moon celebrates his birthday Friday, the oldest of the four living moonwalkers. Aldrin, who landed with Neil Armstrong to become one of only 12 people ever to walk on the lunar surface, was born on a Monday, on Jan. 20, 1930.
Aldrin, who regularly posts to social media, gave thanks for the sundry well wishes made during the day.
“Thank you for all of the Happy Birthday wishes and heartfelt goodwill! It means a lot and I hope to continue serving a greater cause for many more revolutions around the sun,” Aldrin wrote on Twitter. “Onward and upward and best wishes to all of you as well!”
Late Friday he posted news that he and longtime partner Dr. Anca Faur had been married in a small ceremony in Los Angeles, saying they were “as excited as eloping teenagers.”
At age 39, as a member of Apollo 11, he joined Armstrong stepping foot on the moon after they landed in the Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, while command module pilot Michael Collins orbited above.
“Neil, Michael and I were proud to represent America as we took those giant leaps for mankind,” Aldrin said on the landing’s anniversary last year. “It was a brilliant moment for the world and one of America’s finest hours,”
He spent one hour and 33 minutes outside the spacecraft. He also flew on Gemini 12, the final crewed mission of the Gemini program flying with Jim Lovell and performing several spacewalks in 1966.
Aldrin is the only surviving Apollo 11 crew member. Armstrong died in 2012 and Collins in 2021.
Other moonwalkers who have died include Apollo 12′s Pete Conrad (1999) and Alan Bean (2018), Apollo 14′s Alan Shepard (1998) and Edgar Mitchell (2016), Apollo 15′s James Irwin (1991), Apollo 16′s John Young (2018) and Apollo 17′s Eugene Cernan (2017).
Those still alive are Apollo 15′s David Scott, 90, Apollo 16′s Charles Duke, 87, and Apollo 17′s Harrison Schmitt, 87.
Several more astronauts who flew to the moon, but didn’t land, are alive as well. They include Apollo 8′s Frank Borman, 94, Apollo 8 and 13′s Lovell, 94, Apollo 8′s Bill Anders, 89, Apollo 10′s Tom Stafford, 92, Apollo 13′s Fred Haise, 89, and Apollo 16′s Ken Mattingly, 86.
Those who have traveled to the moon, but did not land, but have passed away include Apollo 12′s Dick Gordon (2017), Apollo 13′s Jack Swigert (1982), Apollo 14′s Stu Roosa (1994), Apollo 15′s Al Worden (2020) and Apollo 17′s Ron Evans (1990).
One other Apollo astronaut died earlier this month — Walter Cunningham who died Jan. 3. Apollo 7 flew to low-Earth orbit setting up Apollo 8, the first crewed mission to the moon. Cunningham’s crewmates Wally Schirra (2007) and Donn Eisele (1987) had already passed away. They became the prime Apollo crew after the deaths of Apollo I astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in the launch pad fire on Cape Kennedy in 1967.
“Without that ‘perfect mission,’ our flight to the moon never would have happened,” Aldrin wrote in a guest commentary in the Washington Post. “He was a lifetime friend. ... We have lost a real treasure in Walt. Americans should give him thanks.”
NASA is looking to return humans to the moon, including the first woman and the first person of color, this decade.
Artemis I successfully laid the groundwork for that return flying the uncrewed Orion capsule to the moon and back in what has been deemed an extremely successful test flight.
A crewed flight to the moon is on the clock for some time in 2024 with NASA officials predicting a two-year turnover since Orion’s Artemis I return. That mission will bring a crew of four on about a weeklong mission to orbit the moon, but not land. The crew for Artemis II is expected to be announced before the summer.
It isn’t until Artemis III that NASA looks to send humans back to the lunar surface. That mission, still scheduled for 2025, is likely to slip, though, as NASA still needs SpaceX to develop and perform a test flight of its Starship spacecraft that has yet to make its first orbital test flight. After winning the Human Landing System contract for Artemis III and Artemis IV, one aspect of those mission contracts are that Starship needs to perform a successful test landing on the moon.
NASA is also awaiting new spacesuits from Axiom Space for what will be two astronauts to make the trip the moon’s south pole.
If a landing were to happen in 2025, Aldrin would turn 95 that year.