Schmitt, Harrison

Harrison Schmitt was a NASA astronaut, and is also an American geologist. He was born Harrison Hagan “Jack” Schmitt on July 3, 1935 in Santa Rita, New Mexico. After high school, he went to the California Institute of Technology and received a B.S. degree in science in 1957. He then went to Norway to study geology at the University of Oslo. In 1964, Schmitt earned a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University.

After receiving his doctorate, he worked at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Center in Flagstaff, Arizona where he developed geological field techniques that would be used by the Apollo crews later on. He was then selected by NASA and spent his first year at Air Force UPT learning to become a jet pilot. He also helped train Apollo crews to be geologic observers during lunar orbits and field workers while exploring the lunar surface. He also helped with post-flight examination and evaluation reports.

In March 1970 he received his first assignment alongside Richard Gordon and Vance Brand for the backup crew for Apollo 15. He was then assigned to fly as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 18, but it was cancelled. Finally, in August 1971 Schmitt was announced to fly on Apollo 17. In December of 1972, Apollo 17 took off towards the Moon, and Schmitt took the photograph of the Earth known as The Blue Marble. While on the Moon, Schmitt collected the rock sample Troctolite, which is known as “the most interesting sample returned from the Moon”. After they returned, Schmitt played an active role in documenting the Apollo geologic results and organizing NASA’s Energy Program Office.

In August of 1975, Schmitt resigned from NASA and ran for election to be a United States Senator representing New Mexico. He served one term and has been a consultant in business, geology, space, and public policy ever since. Schmitt was also an adjunct professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin”“Madison. In November 2008, he quit the Planetary Society over policy advocacy differences. He lives in Silver City, New Mexico, and spends a lot of time at his Minnesota lake cabin. Schmitt has also appeared on multiple TV shows, such as King of the Hill and Bill Nye the Science Guy.