World's most famous astronaut now calls Brevard home.



Dr. Buzz Aldrin pictured with Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, incoming president of Florida Institute of Technology.He's Brevard's real life Major Nelson to Barbara Eden's Jeannie.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon. Now he's got an even bigger goal ― to create a plan to colonize Mars by 2040. 

Aldrin, 85, signed a deal to teach at Florida Institute of Technology and to establish the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute. The new institute will promote a settlement on the red planet. Aldrin will serve as a research professor of aeronautics as well as a senior faculty adviser.

Aldrin's concept, called Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars, would secure commercial and international help to support progressive space missions ― including visits to an asteroid and Mars' moons ― that would lead eventually to a Mars landing.  

Aldrin hopes to have a settlement on Mars by 2039, the 70th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

"I'm thrilled to be partnering with FIT in my new home state of Florida," said Aldrin, who recently settled in Satellite Beach. "I am proud of my time at NASA with the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 programs but I hope to be remembered more for my contributions to the future. FIT will play a key role in my ongoing legacy and Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars." 

T. Dwyane McCay, FIT's executive vice president and incoming president to replace the retiring Anthony Catanese, said the university is happy to have Aldrin as a faculty member.

"Our entire learning community will benefit from his presence," McCay said. FIT's largest major is mechanical and aerospace engineering, so Aldrin's addition is expected to generate tremendous student interest.

Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969 when their lunar module Eagle touched down on the moon. Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the lunar surface, declaring, “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” as an estimated 600 million people watched on television. Aldrin, the lunar module pilot, followed 12 minutes, saying “Magnificent desolation” as he stepped off the lunar module footpad.

Astronaut Michael Collins orbited the moon in the Apollo command module while Armstrong and Aldrin set up experiments and collected lunar material. The two astronauts spent a day on the moon before lifting off and rejoining Collins for the return trip to Earth.

Apollo 11 launched from Kennedy Space Center, about 40 miles north of FIT.

Aldrin has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and a doctorate of science degree in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts in 1963. In 1966, Aldrin flew with astronaut Jim Lovell aboard Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission. Aldrin set a record for spacewalking during the mission, spending nearly six hours outside the spacecraft.

Aldrin, born Edwin Eugene Aldrin in 1930, had his first name legally changed to his nickname, Buzz, in 1986.

Aldrin visited Kennedy Space Center July 18 to mark the 46th anniversary of the moon landing and re-launch his not-for-profit ShareSpace Foundation, which aims to get children interested in science, technology, engineering, math and art. Actors John Travolta and Seth Green joined Aldrin at the gala event

FIT is a private doctoral/research university with more than 4,600 on-campus students. The university has five academic divisions that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Notable FIT alumni include astronauts Sunita Williams, Kathryn Hire, Joan Higginbotham and George Zamka.