Schmitt dishes about the moon

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Harrison “Jack” Schmitt will talk about his mission as a former astronaut

By Kirsten Laskey

Harrison “Jack” Schmitt has not only journeyed to a place where only 12 others have been, but the destination was far from this planet.


Schmitt, a former astronaut, will discuss his mission to the Moon, which he took aboard the Apollo 17 in 1972, during the upcoming Los Alamos Historical Society’s lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Duane Smith Auditorium. The title of his talk is “Return to the Moon-Rationale for the Future.”

Schmitt will not only discuss past events, but also give his opinion of what space exploration should do in the future.  Schmitt will discuss the issue of the U.S. returning to the Moon and establishing settlements on it for energy production and space resources.

Heather McClenahan, assistant director of the Historical Society, encourages people to attend the lecture.

“It’s not everyday you get to hear somebody who walked on the Moon,” she said. “Also because there’s so much talk lately (about) should we go back to the Moon, should we go to Mars … there’s so much out there and so much has been in the news (that) people could learn something and hopefully this will give them food for thought on some of the decisions being made in Washington.”

Schmitt, a native to New Mexico, will be able to offer a lot of insight into these discussions.

According to a press release, on his first journey into space, Schmitt occupied the lunar module pilot seat for Apollo 17 – the last scheduled manned Apollo mission – which began on Dec. 6, 1972, and concluded on Dec. 19, 1972. Eugene Cernan, spacecraft commander, and Ronald Evans, command module pilot, accompanied Schmitt on the voyage of the command module America and the lunar module Challenger. In maneuvering Challenger to a landing at Taurus-Littrow, which is located on the southeast edge of Mare Serenitatis, Schmitt and Cernan activated a base of operations facilitating their completion of three days of exploration.

In February 1974, Schmitt assumed additional duties as Chief of Scientist-Astronauts, the press release reports. He was appointed NASA Assistant Administrator for Energy Programs in May 1974. This office is responsible for coordinating NASA support to other Federal Agencies conducting energy research and development and for managing NASA programs applying aeronautics and space technology to the generation, transmission, storage, conservation, utilization and management of energy for terrestrial applications.

The press release further states in August of 1975, Schmitt resigned his post with NASA to run for the United States Senate in his home state of New Mexico. He was elected on Nov.2, 1976, with 57 percent of the votes cast.

In January 1977, Schmitt began a six-year term as one of New Mexico’s Senators in Washington, D.C. During his term, Schmitt was the ranking Republican member of the Ethics Committee, of the Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee of Commerce and the Consumer Sub-committee of Banking. eeee

Since 1982, Schmitt has worked as a consultant, corporate director, and freelance writer and speaker on matters related to space, science, technology and public policy. In 1994, he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin and chairman and president of the Annapolis Center for Environmental Quality.

In other words, “He knows this stuff,” McClenahan said. “He knows what he is talking about when it comes to public policy and space exploration.”

This season’s lecture series kicked off in September with a discussion of White Rock’s history. “It’s was fabulous,” McClenahan said.

More than 280 people showed up, she said. “We’ve been very pleased.”