New Mexico Museum of Space History Home Page
What's NewAboutHall of FameExhibitionsEventsNew Horizons TheaterEducationPlan a VisitGet Involved

Monday October 1st, 2012

Moonwalker Honored at Apollo 17 Commemoration

In December 1972, two men left the last footprints on the moon. Dr. Harrison Schmitt, a New Mexican, was one of those men. On October 12, 2012, Dr. Schmitt along with Jan Evans, widow of Apollo 17 command module pilot Ronald E. Evans, will be the guests of honor for the 40th Anniversary Commemoration of Apollo 17 at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

The Museum, in partnership with the Fellowship of Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts (FLARE) and New Mexico State University Alamogordo, will present a series of events honoring the Apollo 17 flight and crew on Friday October 12. Several hundred students from Alamogordo, Las Cruces and across the state are anticipated to attend.

Activities begin at 9:30 am in the upper parking lot of the Museum. They will include launch demonstrations of scale replicas of some historic White Sands Rockets (V-2, Wac Corporal, and Little Joe II) as well as vehicles from the NASA manned space program (Russian Space Vehicle – Vostok, NASA Manned Space Vehicles - Mercury Redstone, Mercury Atlas, Gemini Titan, Saturn IB, Space Shuttle, and Apollo 17 Saturn V). Congressman Steve Pearce will introduce Dr. Schmitt to the students, who will give a short talk prior to the re-enactment of the Apollo 17 launch.

The highlight of the event will be a presentation by Dr. Schmitt and Mrs. Evans to the students at 10:30 at the Tays Center. The presentation will feature an overview of the Apollo 17 mission. Several students will have the opportunity to ask Dr. Schmitt and Mrs.Evans questions after their presentation. Their questions will focus on the importance of the space program. The Master of Ceremonies will be Michael Shinabery, Humanities Scholar and Education Specialist at the Museum.

Seventeen students will participate in a luncheon with Dr. Schmitt, Mrs. Evans and Congressman Pearce. Students who wish to participate in the luncheon are required to submit an essay on the importance of the space program, choosing from four topics. The lucky seventeen will be chosen by the quality of their essays.

In the afternoon, students will return to the museum grounds where they will participate in hands-on demonstrations, museum tours and special exhibits. Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) students will hold an Egg Loft competition in the parking lot at the museum. Exhibitors include the Civil Air Patrol, Experimental Aircraft Association, White Sands Test Facility, Spaceport America, SEMAA and others. Afternoon presentations will be given by authors Ted Spitzmiller and Loretta Hall.

The above events are open to the public. Standard entrance fees apply for the museum and IMAX theater. Beginning at 6:30, FLARE will present an Apollo 17 night launch reenactment in the upper parking lot at the museum. Several rockets will be launched just before and after sunset. Apollo 17 was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight. This event is also free to the public.

A gala fundraising dinner will be held that evening to celebrate the accomplishments of Apollo 17 and its crew. Dr. Schmitt and Mrs. Evans will be the guests of honor. An informal roundtable discussion will be held following dinner. Only one hundred tickets are available for the dinner. The cost is $55.00 per person. Twenty five tickets are available for an exclusive after dinner reception. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Dr. Schmitt and Mrs. Evans. Tickets for the reception are $100 each. Proceeds will benefit the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation. For more information on purchasing tickets for the dinner or the reception, contact Cathy Harper at 575-437-2840 ext. 41153 or email

The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589.


The Apollo 17 astronauts pose for a publicity photo with the lunar rover. Dr. Harrison Schmitt, lunar module pilot, is on the left; command module pilot Ronald Evans is on the back right and mission commander Gene Cernan is seated.

Harrison Schmitt bio:

PERSONAL DATA: Born July 3, 1935, in Santa Rita, New Mexico. Married to Teresa Fitzgibbon. Recreational interests writing, skiing, fishing, carpentry, hiking, handball, squash, and running.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Western High School, Silver City, New Mexico; received a bachelor of science degree in science from the California Institute of Technology in 1957; studied at the University of Oslo in Norway during 1957-1958; received doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.

ORGANIZATIONS: The Geological Society of America (Honorary Fellow); The American Geophysical Union (Fellow); The American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow); The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Fellow); Sigma XI; American Association of Petroleum Geologists (Fellow); The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (Honorary Member); New Mexico Geological Society (Honorary Member); The American Astronautical Society.

SPECIAL HONORS: Fulbright Fellowship in Norway (1957-1958); Kennecott Fellowship in Geology at Harvard University (1958-1959); Harvard Fellowship (1959-1969); Parker Traveling Fellowship at Harvard University (1961-1962); National Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Geological Sciences, Harvard University, (1963-1964); Johnson Space Center Superior Achievement Award (1970); NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1973); Fairchild Fellow, Caltech (1973-1974); California Institute of Technology, Distinguished Graduate (1973); Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America (1973); Arthur S. Fleming Award (1973); Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Colorado School of Mines (1973); Republic of Senegal's National Order of the Lion (1973); Honorary Life Membership of New Mexico Geological Society (1973); Honorary Member of Norwegian Geographical Society (1973); Honorary Fellow American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (1973); Honorary Fellow of The Geological Society, London (1974); Honorary Doctorate Degree from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute (1975); Honorary Doctorate Degree from Franklin and Marshall College (1977); International Space Hall of Fame (1977); Fellow American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (1977); Engineer of the Year Award, National Society of Professional Engineers, Legislative Recognition Award (1981); National Security Award, highest Civil Defense Award (1981); Honorary Doctorate of Astronautical Science from Salem College (1982); NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (1982); Lovelace Award, Society of NASA Flight Surgeons (1989); G. K. Gilbert Award, Planetary Geology Division, Geological Society of America (1989); Award for Excellence, Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation (1990).

EXPERIENCE: Schmitt was a teaching fellow at Harvard in 1961 where he assisted in teaching a course in ore deposits. Prior to his teaching assignment, he did geological work for the Norwegian Geological Survey on the west coast of Norway, and for the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico and Montana. He also worked for two summers as a geologist in southeastern Alaska.
Before joining NASA, he was with the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Center at Flagstaff, Arizona. He was project chief for lunar field geological methods and participated in photo and telescopic mapping of the Moon, and was among USGS astrogeologists instructing NASA astronauts during their geological field trips.

He has logged more than 2,100 hours flying time -- 1,600 hours in jet aircraft.

Dr. Schmitt was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in June 1965. He later completed a 53-week course in flight training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. In addition to training for future manned space flights. He was instrumental in providing Apollo flight crews with detailed instruction in lunar navigation, geology, and feature recognition. Schmitt also assisted in the integration of scientific activities into the Apollo lunar missions and participated in research activities requiring geologic, petrographic, and stratigraphic analyses of samples returned from the moon by Apollo missions.

He was backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 15.

On his first journey into space, Dr. Schmitt occupied the lunar module pilot seat for Apollo 17 -- the last scheduled manned Apollo mission to the United States --which commenced at 11:33 p.m. (CST), December 6, 1972, and concluded on December 19, 1972. He was accompanied on the voyage of the command module "America" and the lunar module "Challenger" by Eugene Cernan (spacecraft commander) and Ronald Evans (command module pilot). 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. This last Apollo mission to the moon for the United States broke several records set by previous flights and include: longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 4 minutes); largest lunar sample return (an estimated 115 Kg, 249 lbs); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes). Apollo 17 ended with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean approximately 0.4 mile from the target point and 4.3 miles from the prime recovery ship, USS TICONDEROGA.

Dr. Schmitt logged 301 hours and 51 minutes in space -- of which 22 hours and 4 minutes were spent in extravehicular activity on the lunar surface.

In July of 1973 Dr. Schmitt was appointed as one of the first Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholars at the California Institute of Technology. His appointment was extended to run through July 1975. This appointment ran concurrently with his other activities in NASA.

In February 1974, Schmitt assumed additional duties as Chief of Scientist-Astronauts.

Dr. Schmitt was appointed NASA Assistant Administrator for Energy Programs in May 1974. This office has the responsibility 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.

In August of 1975, Dr. Schmitt resigned his post with NASA to run for the United States Senate in his home state of New Mexico. He was elected on November 2, 1976, with 57% of the votes cast.

In January 1977, Schmitt began a six-year term as one of New Mexico's Senators in Washington, D.C. His major committee assignments were on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the Select Committee on Ethics. He 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.

Since 1982, Schmitt has worked as a consultant, corporate director, and free lance 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. DECEMBER 1994 This is the only version available from NASA. Updates must be sought direct from the above named individual.