Around the Globe with Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin! The news caused a sensation: his arrival was imminent. The man who, 40 years ago, first step foot on the moon, was to do the same at CERN.


Buzz Aldrin dumps the pilot beams from the LHC.

Visiting the Globe on 1 March to endorse General Motors’ (GM) new ecological programme, Buzz Aldrin took advantage of the occasion to take a whistle-stop tour of the Organisation. “CERN is dealing with things going very fast underground; I’m dealing with things going fast – not that fast though! – up in orbit,” he said.

Accompanied by his wife Lois and singer Katie Melua - also invited by GM to perform at the private event - Buzz began his visit with a short introduction to CERN at the Universe of Particles exhibit. He then met with Andrzej Siemko, group leader of the LHC machine protection, at the SM-18 super conducting magnet test facility.

The astronaut’s last stop was at the CCC, where the LHC team had something special planned for him. He was welcomed by Mike Lamont, head of the Beam Operations group, before being given a backstage tour of the operation of the accelerators. Then, all eyes were on Aldrin as he dumped the pilot beams circulating in the machine. Applause rang through the control centre, as a typical beam dump became a scientific moment to remember. “Buzz is a symbol of a truly great achievement,” says Lamont. “Seeing him, and the photograph of his footprint on the lunar surface, reminded us all just how significant the moon landing was.”

As Buzz was leaving, he spoke of the common ground between different types of physics: “We’re all seeking to visit beyond our range – the range of our understanding, the physical range of what we can see with telescopes, or the range of where we can send spacecraft. We are always trying to explore a little bit further and many times the most baffling is the very, very micro.” 

Buzz in Brief

Buzz Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey on 20 January 1930. He was educated at the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He then joined the Air Force where he flew 66 combat missions in Korea. Buzz went on to earn a Doctorate of Science in Astronautics at MIT, where he wrote his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous. In 1963, Buzz was selected by NASA to be part of the third group of astronauts. He devised docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit, which were critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs and are still used today. Buzz also pioneered the underwater training techniques used to simulate spacewalking.

In 1966, on the Gemini 12 orbital mission, Buzz performed the world’s first successful spacewalk, overcoming prior difficulties experienced in all American and Russian extra-vehicular activity. Then, on 20 July 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. They spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned with 21kg of moon rocks.

Since retiring from NASA and the Air Force, Buzz has remained at the forefront of efforts to continue human space exploration. For more information, visit his official website:


by Katarina Anthony