Evening Lectures - Pensacola

Harrison Schmitt

THE TALK: 1903-1969 Wrights to Armstrong

February 18, 2016


The first seventy years of the 20th Century saw a remarkable explosion in technology related to flight above the surface of the Earth. In 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers demonstrated powered aircraft flight for the first time. In 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped from the Lunar Module Eagle onto the lunar surface. Between these two unique historic events, air travel became routine and space travel had left the realm of science fiction and entered reality. The scientific, economic, defense and life benefits arising from the accomplishment of these two events changed the course of the future for America and all nations.


Senator Harrison Hagan Schmitt was born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, and grew up in nearby Silver City. He received a B.S. from Caltech and a PhD in geology from Harvard. He worked in Norway as a Fulbright Scholar and also as a National Science Foundation Post-Doctorate Fellow. Selected by NASA as a Scientist-Astronaut in 1965, he earned Air Force T-38 jet pilot wings in 1966 and Navy H-13 helicopter wings in 1967. Schmitt flew in space as Apollo 17’s Lunar Module Pilot, landing in the Moon’s Valley of Taurus-Littrow, December 11, 1972. He is the only scientist and the last of 12 men to step on the Moon.

Elected to the U.S. Senate from New Mexico in 1976, Schmitt worked on legislation and New Mexico affairs related to technology, immigration, healthcare, commerce, national security and intelligence. A part of his consulting business in aerospace and earth science, he served on the President Reagan’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Army Science Board, and the President H. W. Bush’s Ethics Commission and chaired the NASA Advisory Council from 2005 to 2008. In 1983, Schmitt became Director of Orbital Sciences Corporation, now Orbital ATK. Beginning in 1996, he taught “Resources from Space” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is an Associate Fellow in the Department of Engineering.

Dr. Schmitt is also a Senior Research Scientist at IHMC. Schmitt has authored “Return to the Moon; Exploration, Enterprise and Energy in the Human Exploration of Space” and numerous scientific papers. He lives in the intermountain west with his wife of over 30 years, Teresa Fitzgibbon of Los Alamos, New Mexico, and a number of four-legged canine family members.

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