Schmitt, Harrison Hagan (1935–)

Harrison Schmitt was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 17 and the only geologist to walk on the Moon. Schmitt received a BS from the California Institute of Technology (1957) and a PhD in geology from Harvard (1964). He had assignments with the Norwegian Geological Survey on the west coast of Norway and the United States Geological Survey in New Mexico and Montana. Schmitt was involved in photographic and telescopic mapping of the Moon with the Geological Survey's Astrogeology Center at Flagstaff, Arizona, when NASA selected him in June 1965 in its first group of scientist-astronauts.


Harrison Schmitt


Unlike all previous astronauts, Schmitt was not a pilot and so had to attend a year-long course at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, before receiving his Air Force jet pilot wings and later his Navy helicopter wings. While training for his own Moon mission, Schmitt provided Apollo flight crews with detailed instruction in lunar navigation, geology, and feature recognition. He also helped integrate scientific activities into Apollo missions and analyze returned lunar soil samples. Schmidt was originally assigned to Apollo 18 but, when this flight was canceled, was moved up to Apollo 17 so that he could bring his geological expertise to bear on what would be the final Apollo journey. Stepping onto the mountain-ringed valley named Taurus-Littrow, Schmitt announced: "It's a good geologist's paradise if I've ever seen one!"


He resigned from NASA in 1975 to run for the United States Senate in his home state of New Mexico. Elected on 2 November 1976, he served one six-year term and, in his last two years, was chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space. He is currently a business and technical consultant.