A look at 6 'out of this world' NJ space explorers for National Astronaut Day

Some of NASA's most celebrated astronauts got their starts in the Garden State. Here's a look at some of New Jersey's top astronauts:


Buzz Aldrin (Photo: Neil A. Armstrong/NASA via AP)
Buzz Aldrin flew to space as part of the Gemini and Apollo missions. He is most remembered as the second man to walk on the moon during his Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins. He also is remembered for his spacewalk on Gemini 12. Aldrin spent 289 hours and 53 minutes in space, including seven hours and 52 minutes of EVA. Aldrin is also a West Point graduate who served in the Korean War.


Wally Schirra (Photo: NASA)
Wally Schirra was one of the famed original Mercury astronauts. He had missions to space during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Schirra flew on Mercury 8, the fifth of the solo Mercury missions. He then went on to be a part of Gemini 6A with Tom Stafford in the first crewed spacecraft rendezvous. Schirra commanded the first crewed flight of the Apollo program - Apollo 7 - after the tragic Apollo 1 fire that killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Schirra graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served during World War II and the Korean War.


Rusty Schweickart with astronauts David R. Scott, James A. McDivitt, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee (AP Photo/George Brich)
Rusty Schweickart was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 9, the third manned flight of the Apollo program, during which he tested the astronauts' portable life support backpack later used on moon missions. He spent 241 hours in space, including that 46-minute EVA testing the backpack. Following his Apollo flight, he served as a backup commander of the first crewed Skylab mission.


Scott and Mark Kelly (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Twin brothers Mark and Scott Kelly are both former astronauts. Mark Kelly has been on four space missions, including the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavor. Mark Kelly is now the junior U.S. senator for Arizona.
Scott Kelly has spent 520 days in space - including an 11-month mission to the International Space Station to monitor the long-term effects of space travel on the human body.


Shuttle Challenger mission specialist Kathryn Sullivan. (AP Photo/NASA-TV)
Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan was the first U.S. woman to perform a spacewalk with her EVA on Oct. 11, 1984. She served on three shuttle missions before becoming chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1993. Sullivan spent more than 532 hours in space. She was later appointed by President Barack Obama to be the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.