On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed their lunar module, Eagle, on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility and became the first two humans to walk on the moon. This unprecedented heroic endeavor was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history.
Dr. Aldrin was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor amongst over 50 other distinguished awards and medals from the United States and numerous other countries.
After retiring from NASA, his position as Commander of the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and the Air Force, Dr. Aldrin concentrated his efforts on advancing man’s exploration into space. He has since developed the concept for “The Cycler,” a spacecraft system that can make uninterrupted orbits between Earth and Mars. More recently, he founded a rocket design company, Starcraft Boosters, Inc., and the ShareSpace Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making space travel available for all people.
Dr. Aldrin has authored many space novels including, The Return, Mission to Mars and Encounter with Tiber, an autobiography, Return to Earth, and a historical documentary, Men From Earth, which describes his trip to the moon. He also released his first children’s book, Reaching for the Moon, in 2005 in which Dr. Aldrin shares his life long dream of space travel.
In November 1969, Captain Alan Bean became the fourth man to walk on the moon as a lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, the second lunar landing. 35 years later, Bean’s footprints still lie undisturbed on the moon’s Ocean of Storms.
Captain Bean later commanded the second manned mission, Skylab 3, in 1973 during which he remained in space for a whopping 59 days and logged a world record setting 24,400,000 miles.
Bean resigned from NASA in June 1981 to pursue his life-long passion for art and draws on his 18 years as an astronaut for inspiration for his paintings. He is the only person in the entire world to use real moon dust in his work.
It’s also a point of pride to Bean that on his Apollo 12 mission, he left the flag of his alma mater, R. L. Paschal High School, on the moon where it currently resides. Bean currently lives in Houston, Texas with his wife.
EDGAR MITCHELL – Apollo 14
On January 31, 1971, Navy Captain Dr. Edgar Mitchell became the sixth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission. He shared NASA’s third manned lunar landing with fellow astronaut Alan Shepard.
Mitchell recalls that as he hurtled earthward through space he became engulfed by “a sense of universal connected-ness.” He felt as if he, his fellow astronauts, and Earth were all part of a deliberate, universal process and that the glittering cosmos itself was in some way conscious.
After retiring from the Navy in 1972, Dr. Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences to sponsor research into the nature of consciousness as it relates to cosmology and causality. In 1984, he was a co-founder of the Association of Space Explorers, an international organization of those who have experienced space travel.
Astronaut John Young is the first person to fly in space six times, twice journeyed to the moon and, as of 2007, is the only astronaut to have piloted four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini spacecraft, Apollo Command/Service Module, Apollo Lunar Module and the Space Shuttle.
Joining NASA in 1962, Young made the first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft with Virgil Grissom. Young scored another space “first” by smuggling a corned beef sandwich onto the spacecraft – a feat for which he was reprimanded.
Young’s second journey into space was as Commander of Gemini 10 during which he and fellow astronaut, Michael Collins, performed the first duel docking to two Agena Target Vehicles. He and Collins completed two space walks on this mission. During his Apollo 10 mission, Young flew the command module alone – the first person to do so in lunar orbit.
Charlie Duke was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1935. Led by a desire to serve his country, Duke attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Following graduation, he was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force and, thus, began a life-long love of flying.
Duke was a fighter pilot, test pilot and, after some encouragement from his commandant, Chuck Yeager, became an Apollo astronaut. His love for adventure grew to the pinnacle of achievement when on April 20, 1972, he and John Young landed on the surface of the moon. Their stay on the moon was a record-setting 71 hours and 14 minutes. Duke is the tenth man to walk the surface of the moon.
Duke also served in the Air Force Reserves as special assistant to the Commander of USAF Recruiting Service. He travels extensively speaking at schools and universities.
He was appointed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to the NASA Advisory Council and is presently owner of Charlie Duke Enterprises.
Born is Chicago, Illinois, Astronaut Gene Cernan served 20 years as a Naval Aviator of which 13 were with NASA. During his tenure, Cernan went into space three times as co-pilot of Gemini 9A in 1966, as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 in 1969 and as commander of Apollo 17 in 1972.
During his last mission, Cernan became the “the last man on the moon.” Climbing the ladder of the Apollo 17, Cernan spoke the last words uttered on the moon’s surface, “As we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. As I take these last steps from the surface for some time to come, I’d just like to record that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. Godspeed the crew of Apollo Seventeen.”
Cernan was a member of the NASA senior management team and reviewed decisions which directly affected operations and mission planning. From 1973 through 1975, Captain Cernan was a Senior United States Negotiator during discussions with the USSR concerning the joint US and Soviet Apollo/Soyuz project.
He retired from the United States Navy in 1976 and currently is President and CEO of The Cernan Corporation and the Cernan Group, Inc., space-related technology and marketing consulting firms. The Cernan group has been involved with consumer application of current technology since their founding. Cernan has also chronicled his experiences in the Apollo program in his autobiography, The Last Man on the Moon.
HARRISON SCHMITT – Apollo 17
The twelfth person to walk on the moon, Dr. Harrison Schmitt began his career with NASA in 1965.
A geologist, Schmitt developed geological field techniques that were used by the Apollo crews and played a key role in training astronauts to be competent field workers when gathering samples on the lunar surface. 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.
In 1975, Dr. Schmitt resigned his post with NASA and made a successful run for the United States Senate in his home state of New Mexico. His six-year term as Senator began in 1977. While in Washington, D.C., Schmitt worked as a consultant, corporate director, and freelance writer and speaker on matters related to space, science, technology, and public policy.
Schmitt is currently chair of the NASA Advisory Council, whose purpose is to provide technical advice to NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin. Schmitt is also an adjunct professor of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.