Harrison Schmitt

Harrison Schmitt bigraphy, stories - United States astronaut, 12th man to set foot on the Moon

Harrison Schmitt : biography

1935-07-3 –

Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is an American geologist, a retired NASA astronaut, university professor, and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico.

He was the twelfth and last man to walk on the Moon, as Apollo 17 crewmate Eugene Cernan exited the Apollo Lunar Module first. However, as Schmitt re-entered the module first, Cernan became the last astronaut to walk on and depart the moon. Schmitt is also the only geologist as well as the only person to have walked on the Moon who was never a member of the United States Armed Forces, although he is not the first civilian, since Neil Armstrong left military service prior to his landing in 1969.


Early life and education

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Schmitt grew up in nearby Silver City. He received a B.S. degree in geology from the California Institute of Technology in 1957 and then spent a year studying geology at the University of Oslo in Norway. He received a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University in 1964, based on his geological field studies in Norway.

NASA career

{} Before joining NASA as a member of the first group of scientist-astronauts in June 1965, he worked at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Center at Flagstaff, Arizona, developing geological field techniques that would be used by the Apollo crews. Following his selection, Schmitt spent his first year at Air Force UPT learning to become a jet pilot. Upon his return to the astronaut corps in Houston, he played a key role in training Apollo crews to be geologic observers when they were in lunar orbit and competent geologic field workers when they were on the lunar surface. After each of the landing missions, he participated in the examination and evaluation of the returned lunar samples and helped the crews with the scientific aspects of their mission reports.

Schmitt spent considerable time becoming proficient in the CSM and LM systems. In March 1970 he became the first of the scientist-astronauts to be assigned to space flight, joining Richard F. Gordon, Jr. (Commander) and Vance Brand (Command Module Pilot) on the Apollo 15 backup crew. The flight rotation put these three in line to fly as prime crew on the third following mission, Apollo 18. Apollo flights 18 and 19 were cancelled in September 1970, but Schmitt was assigned in August 1971 to fly on the last lunar mission, Apollo 17, replacing Joe Engle as Lunar Module Pilot. He landed on the Moon with commander Gene Cernan in December 1972.

Schmitt claims to have taken the photograph of the Earth known as The Blue Marble, one of the most widely distributed photographic images in existence. (NASA officially credits the image to the entire Apollo 17 crew.)

While on the Moon’s surface, Schmitt — the only geologist in the astronaut corps — collected the rock sample designated Troctolite 76535, which has been called "without doubt the most interesting sample returned from the Moon". Among other distinctions, it is the central piece of evidence suggesting that the Moon once possessed an active magnetic field.

As he returned to the Lunar Module before Cernan, Schmitt is the next-to-last person to have walked on the Moon’s surface.

After the completion of Apollo 17, Schmitt played an active role in documenting the Apollo geologic results and also took on the task of organizing NASA’s Energy Program Office.

File:Astronaut Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, American Flag, and Earth (Apollo 17 EVA-1).jpg|Schmitt poses by the American flag, with Earth in the background, during Apollo 17’s first EVA. File:Schmitt Covered with Lunar Dirt – GPN-2000-001124.jpg|Schmitt collects lunar specimens during the Apollo 17 mission. File:Ap17 schmitt falls.ogg|Schmitt falls while on a Moonwalk.