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Harrison Schmitt

From Academic Kids

Harrison "Jack" Schmitt (left) poses with  (seated) and  (right)
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Harrison "Jack" Schmitt (left) poses with Gene Cernan (seated) and Ronald Evans (right)

Dr. Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is a geologist, astronaut, and former senator.

Contents

Early life and education

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Schmitt grew up in nearby Silver City. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in science from the California Institute of Technology in 1957 and then spent a year studying geology at the University of Oslo in Norway. Doctorate of Philosophy in geology from Harvard University in 1964.

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 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.

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Schmittonmoon.jpg
Harrison Schmitt collects lunar specimens during the Apollo 17 mission

Because Schmitt was the only geologist in the astronaut corps and, as well, had spent considerable time becoming proficient in the CSM and LM systems, it came as no surprise when, in March 1970, he became the first of the scientist-astronauts to receive a crew assignment. He joined Richard Gordon (Commander) and Vance Brand (Command Module Pilot) on the backup crew for Apollo 15 and was clearly in line to fly as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 18. After the cancellation of Apollo 18 in September 1970, many people expected that he would be assigned to fly on Apollo 17, the last lunar mission. That assignment was announced in August 1971. 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.

Post-NASA career

In August 1975, Schmitt resigned from NASA to seek election as a Republican to the United States Senate representing New Mexico. Schmitt faced two-term Democratic incumbent, Joseph M. Montoya, whom he defeated 57%-42%. He served one term and, notably, was the ranking Republican member of the Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee. He was defeated in a re-election bid in 1982 by Jeff Bingaman and, since then, has kept very busy as a consultant in business, geology, space, and public policy.

He currently lives in Silver City, New Mexico.

Media

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Preceded by:
Joseph Montoya
Senator from New Mexico Succeeded by:
Jeff Bingaman
de:Harrison H. Schmitt

he:האריסון שמיט fi:Harrison Schmitt

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