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Five for Friday: Five (Little Known) Conversation Starters With Buzz Aldrin

We all know Buzz Aldrin was one of the first people to walk on the moon. But he’s led such a rich life that there’s more to him than just lunar landings. So if you meet him at Avaya Evolutions San Francisco on February 5th or Avaya Evolutions Chicago on March 12th, you might want to ask him about these other little factoids.

1. Buzz Wasn’t (Originally) His Real Name

Born Edwin Aldrin in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the name Buzz came from his sister who pronounced “brother” “buzzer”. “Buzzer” was eventually shortened into Buzz, and the name stuck with Aldrin the rest of his life. He legally changed his name to Buzz in 1988, and eventually in 1995 was the inspiration for a certain toy astronaut’s name.

2. He’s Called Dr. Rendezvous For A Reason

It’s tough to dock a big, floating object with another big, floating object in space. Aldrin figured it out, though. First he went to MIT to pursue his doctorate in Astronautics. His thesis, entitled “Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous,” tackled the issues that spacecraft faced when trying to rendezvous in space. The first doctorate holder to be recruited as an astronaut, he was able to test out those techniques during his first trip into space on Gemini 12.

Gemini‘s docking with target vehicle Agena was in danger due to broken radar communication that hampered maneuvers. However using Aldrin’s techniques, Gemini was able to recover from the problem and successfully dock with Agena. Those very techniques became crucial to the space program, and Aldrin received the name Dr. Rendezvous for his awesome space docking skills.

3. He Was The First To Work Out In Space

Back when the space program was brand new, nobody knew if an astronaut could take a trip outside of a spaceship and do work. Suits were cumbersome, could dangerously overheat, and visors could fog up. There were several attempts by NASA to see if EVA (Extra-vehicular activity, or spacewalking) was possible, but all failed. NASA planned one last attempt during Gemini 12 by Aldrin. Failure meant it would give up on the idea. The results were amazing. Aldrin not only was able to work outside of the craft, but he did so for 5 hours (setting a record for space walks) and without having to listen to George Clooney yammer while floating alongside him.

4. He Wants Us To Explore Space

While we’re a long way from forming Starfleet or heading out to colonize a new solar system and become space cowboys (oh, I wish), there’s plenty for us to do in our own space backyard. Like Mars-we still haven’t gone there yet! Actually we haven’t gone anywhere further than our moon.

We should, though, and Aldrin is a huge supporter of space exploration. He supports it so much, he wrote a book about it called Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration. How cool is this book? Cool enough for us to be giving away signed copies of it at Evolutions San Francisco. So you can read why humanity should be looking towards the stars.

5. He Punched A Jerk Who Didn’t Believe In The Moon Landing

Okay, so maybe don’t ask Buzz Aldrin about this. However in 2002, a somewhat unprofessional “journalist”/ conspiracy theorist named Bart Sibrel confronted Aldrin and demanded he prove he went to the moon. Despite Aldrin asking him to leave him alone, Sibrel continued harassing him for an answer. Buzz Aldrin finally answered the question by punching the guy in the face. Because that really is the only correct response to some jerk who thinks you’re lying about doing something as amazing as walking on the freaking moon.

Of course these are only a few factoids about Buzz Aldrin. He’s the author of 8 books, including an autobiography, if you’d like to know more. Then again you could always attend Avaya Evolutions and win one of them instead of buying it on Amazon.

Asher Powell writes and draws for Avaya by day and is a connoisseur of fine pop culture by night. more

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