'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 […]

Sleeping On Alien Shores: The Unquiet Slumbers of the Apollo Moonwalkers

Covered in lunar grime, and clad only in his water-cooled underwear, Gene Cernan manages a grin for Jack Schmitt’s camera, aboard the Lunar Module (LM) Challenger during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. The astronauts’ space suits can be seen, stashed at the back of the cramped cabin. Above the helmets can be […]

Top Ten US EVAs of All Time: No. 2—'What We Came For'

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

More than four decades have passed since one of the most brilliant missions ever undertaken in the annals of space science. Apollo 15, launched in July 1971, carried U.S. astronauts Dave Scott, Al […]

Top Ten US EVA Missions of All Time: No. 10—'The Long and the Short'

Jim Voss is pictured at the end of Discovery’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) mechanical arm, during the longest EVA ever undertaken, in March 2001. Photo Credit: NASA

Over the course of five decades, no fewer than 211 individuals from 10 sovereign nations—Russia, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, China, and Italy—have departed […]

Walking on an Alien World: The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 2)

A mere four years after humanity’s first spacewalk, EVA and space suit technology advanced sufficiently to permit Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, yesterday, on 18 March 1965, humanity became an “extravehicular” spacefaring civilization for the first time, when 30-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov ventured outside […]