History-making astronaut Buzz Aldrin has always set his sights on the stars. Even half a century after his first space trip, the celestial pioneer is still forging ways to expand the final frontier.

The highly decorated spaceman was born in 1930 in New Jersey. He trained at New York's West Point academy before studying at astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he graduated with a doctorate of science. His thesis was on guidance for manned orbital rendezvous.

Ill moon walker Aldrin in 'good spirits'

Before he launched his celebrated space career Aldrin served in the US Air Force, flying scores of combat missions during the Korean War.


In 1963 he became an astronaut, joining the famed Nasa programme.

Three years later he and pilot James Lovell launched into space in the Gemini 12 spacecraft.

During the mission he set a new record for extra-vehicular activity, spending more than five hours outside the spacecraft.

Four years later, in 1969, Aldrin, with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, flew to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission. He became the second person to walk on the moon after Armstrong.

When Aldrin resigned from Nasa in 1971 he had spent 289 hours and 53 minutes in space. Nearly eights hours were spent outside spacecraft.

Aldrin has been a longtime advocate of permanent human resettlement on Mars and manned exploration of space. He also is a driving force to make space travel accessible to everyone.

In 2002 he was involved in a fracas with a documentary maker who claimed his moon missions were faked.

More recently the 86-year-old has added to his resume by appearing in reality television shows, releasing a song and writing children's books on space exploration.