'An Even Better Friend': 45 Years Since the Apollo 17 Decision (Part 2)

Standing near a huge boulder, overlooking the scenic grandeur of the Taurus-Littrow valley, Jack Schmitt became the first - and so far only - professional geologist to visit another world. His selection as a member of the Apollo 17 crew came at the end of a long and difficult process, which saw him overlooked for an assignment time and time again...and eventually resulted in Joe Engle losing his own seat on a lunar voyage. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this month, the names of the final crew of lunar explorers of the 20th century were announced. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this month, NASA made the decision which would close out human exploration of the lunar surface for more than two generations: the selection of the final crew to […]

'I Didn't Feel Any Obligation': 45 Years Since the Apollo 17 Decision (Part 1)

Forty years after Apollo 17, Jack Schmitt remains the only professional geologist to practice his art on another world. Pictured in this view with Old Glory at Taurus-Littrow, he is backdropped by the two celestial bodies upon which he had based his entire career: the Moon and the Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

As Project Apollo wore on, the intensity of lobbying by the scientific community to get geologist-astronaut Jack Schmitt to the Moon increased. Originally assigned to the Apollo 15 backup crew, Schmitt might have flown Apollo 18, prior to a sweeping cancelation of the final missions in the program. Photo Credit: NASA

For almost five […]

'A Peaceful, If Temporary Home': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 4)

Jim Irwin works on digging a trench to test the bearing capacity of the lunar soil. He "solved a dog's job with a dog's technique". Photo Credit: NASA

Jim Irwin works on digging a trench to test the bearing capacity of the lunar soil. He “solved a dog’s job with a dog’s technique.” Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, today, on 7 August 1971, the Apollo 15 crew—Commander Dave Scott, Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Jim Irwin, and Command Module Pilot (CMP) Al Worden—returned […]

'Lifted Up On A Pedestal': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 3)

Haunting view of Jim Irwin with the lunar rover, backdropped by the grandeur of Mount Hadley. Photo Credit: NASA

Haunting view of Jim Irwin with the lunar rover, backdropped by the grandeur of Mount Hadley. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, this week, as July burned into August 1971, three sons of Planet Earth were midway through their exploration of the Moon. Aboard the Command and Service Module (CSM) Endeavour, astronaut Al Worden operated a […]

'Exploration at Its Greatest': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 2)

Dave Scott works with the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) on the slopes of Hadley Rille during Apollo 15. Photo Credit: NASA

Dave Scott works with the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) on the slopes of Hadley Rille during Apollo 15. Photo Credit: NASA

Since the evening of 20/21 July 1969, it had become something of a tradition for the commander of each Apollo lunar landing mission to make a comment as he took his first steps […]

'The Reality of the Situation': 45 Years Since the Mission of Apollo 15 (Part 1)

For each Apollo landing crew, the cramped confines of the Lunar Module (LM) provided their sanctuary against the hostile extremes of an airless, lifeless world beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

For each Apollo landing crew, the cramped confines of the Lunar Module (LM) provided their sanctuary against the hostile extremes of an airless, lifeless world beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

Four hundred miles (640 km) to the north of the Moon’s equator lies a place called Hadley: a small patch of Mare Imbrium at the […]

'Before This Decade Is Out': 55 Years Since the Speech Which Committed America to the Moon (Part 2)

Through a combination of enthusiasm for space exploration and political need, President John F. Kennedy's speech on 25 May 1961 defined his short-lived administration. Photo Credit: NASA

Through a combination of enthusiasm for space exploration and political need, President John F. Kennedy’s speech on 25 May 1961 defined his short-lived administration. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, this week, John Fitzgerald Kennedy—35th President of the United States—gave a speech before Congress which, arguably, defined not only his administration, but also the […]

'Before This Decade Is Out': 55 Years Since the Speech Which Committed America to the Moon (Part 1)

On 25 May 1961, President John F. Kennedy made one of the most remarkable speeches in U.S. political history, by setting his nation on a course to land a man on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

On 25 May 1961, President John F. Kennedy made one of the most remarkable speeches in U.S. political history, by setting his nation on a course to land a man on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

When we think of heroes in the early Space Age, our minds are naturally drawn to the likes […]

Space Icon Jim Lovell Calls For Return to Moon at Smithsonian Ceremony

Retired astronaut Navy Capt. James A. Lovell Jr., 88, received the National Air and Space Museum's Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo Credit U.S. Navy.

Retired astronaut Navy Capt. James A. Lovell Jr., 88, received the National Air and Space Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo Credit U.S. Navy.

Navy Capt. James A. Lovell Jr. (ret), the first astronaut to fly two trips to the Moon while also leading the Apollo 13 crew’s successful fight for survival, is calling for […]

'Familiar to Millions of Americans': 45 Years Since Apollo 14 (Part 4)

Apollo 14 concludes humanity's third manned lunar landing with a perfect splashdown on 9 February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

Bathed by the intense lunar sunlight, Antares sits on the undulating plain of Fra Mauro in February 1971. Photo Credit: NASA

For those of us born within the last four decades, the notion of looking up at the Moon and knowing that fellow human beings are living and working there has been as alien […]