Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is an American
NASA astronaut, university professor, former U.S.
senator from New Mexico, and the most recent living person to have
walked on the Moon. As of 2018, he is also the last living crew member
of Apollo 17.
In December 1972, as one of the crew on board Apollo 17, Schmitt
became the first member of NASA's first scientist-astronaut group to
fly in space. As
Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions, he
also became the twelfth and second youngest person to set foot on the
Moon, and the second-to-last person to step off of the
boarded the Lunar Module shortly before commander Eugene Cernan).
Schmitt also remains the first and only professional scientist to have
flown beyond low
Earth orbit and to have visited the Moon. He was
influential within the community of geologists supporting the Apollo
program and, before starting his own preparations for an Apollo
mission, had been one of the scientists training those Apollo
astronauts chosen to visit the lunar surface.
Schmitt resigned from
NASA in August 1975 in order to run for election
United States Senate
United States Senate as a member from New Mexico. As the
Republican candidate in the 1976 election, he defeated the two-term
Democratic incumbent Joseph Montoya, but, running for re-election in
1982, was defeated by Democrat Jeff Bingaman.
1.1 Early life and education
2 Views on global warming
3 In popular culture
4 Awards and honors
6 See also
8 External links
Early life and education
Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Schmitt grew up in nearby Silver
City, and he is a graduate of the Western High School (class of
1953). He received a B.S. degree in geology from the California
Institute of Technology in 1957 and then spent a year studying geology
University of Oslo
University of Oslo in Norway. He received a Ph.D. in
Harvard University in 1964, based on his geological field
studies in Norway.
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 spent his first year at Air Force UPT
learning to become a jet pilot. Upon his return to the astronaut corps
in Houston, he 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.
Schmitt spent considerable time becoming proficient in the CSM and LM
systems. In March 1970 he became the first of the scientist-astronauts
to be assigned to space flight, joining Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
Vance Brand (Command Module Pilot) on the Apollo 15
backup crew. The flight rotation put these three in line to fly as
prime crew on the third following mission, Apollo 18. When Apollo
flights 18 and 19 were cancelled in September 1970, the community of
lunar geologists supporting Apollo felt so strongly about the need to
land a professional geologist on the Moon, that they pressured
reassign Schmitt to a remaining flight. As a result, Schmitt was
assigned in August 1971 to fly on the last mission, Apollo 17,
Joe Engle as Lunar Module Pilot. Schmitt landed on the Moon
Gene Cernan in December 1972.
Schmitt claims to have taken the photograph of the
Earth known as The
Blue Marble, one of the most widely distributed photographic images in
NASA officially credits the image to the entire Apollo 17
While on the Moon's surface, Schmitt — the only geologist in
the astronaut corps — collected the rock sample designated
Troctolite 76535, which has been called "without doubt the most
interesting sample returned from the Moon". Among other
distinctions, it is the central piece of evidence suggesting that the
Moon once possessed an active magnetic field.
As he returned to the Lunar Module before Cernan, Schmitt is the
next-to-last person to have walked on the Moon's surface.
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.
Schmitt poses by the American flag, with
Earth in the background,
during Apollo 17's first EVA.
Schmitt collects lunar specimens during the
Apollo 17 mission.
Schmitt falls while on a Moonwalk.
Senator Schmitt with then-President
Ronald Reagan in Roswell, New
Mexico, October 1982
Schmitt in 2009
In August 1975, Schmitt resigned from
NASA to seek election as a
Republican to the
United States Senate
United States Senate representing
New Mexico in the
1976 election. Schmitt faced two-term Democratic incumbent Joseph
Montoya, whom he defeated, 57% to 42%. He served one term and,
notably, was the ranking Republican member of the Science, Technology,
and Space Subcommittee. He sought a second term in 1982, facing state
Attorney General Jeff Bingaman. Bingaman attacked Schmitt for not
paying enough attention to local matters; his campaign slogan asked,
Earth has he done for you lately?" This, combined with the
deep recession, proved too much for Schmitt to overcome; he was
defeated, 54% to 46%.
During his term in the Senate, Schmitt sat at the chamber's candy
Following his Senate term, Schmitt has been a consultant in business,
geology, space, and public policy.
Schmitt is an adjunct professor of engineering physics at the
University of Wisconsin–Madison, and has long been a proponent
of lunar resource utilization. In 1997 he proposed the
Interlune InterMars Initiative, listing among its goals the
advancement of private-sector acquisition and use of lunar resources,
particularly lunar helium-3 as a fuel for notional nuclear fusion
Schmitt addends President Donald Trump's signing of Space Policy
NASA to resume human flight to the
Schmitt was chair of the
NASA Advisory Council, whose mandate is to
provide technical advice to the
NASA Administrator, from November 2005
until his abrupt resignation on October 16, 2008. In November
2008, he quit the
Planetary Society over policy advocacy differences,
citing the organization's statements on "focusing on Mars as the
driving goal of human spaceflight" (Schmitt said that going back to
Moon would speed progress toward a manned Mars mission), on
"accelerating research into global climate change through more
Earth observations" (Schmitt voiced objections to the
notion of a present "scientific consensus" on climate change as any
policy guide), and on international cooperation (which he felt would
retard rather than accelerate progress), among other points of
In January 2011, he was appointed as secretary of the New Mexico
Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department in the cabinet of
Governor Susana Martinez, but was forced to give up the
appointment the following month after refusing to submit to a required
background investigation. El Paso Times called him the "most
celebrated" candidate for
New Mexico energy secretary.
Schmitt wrote a book entitled Return to the Moon: Exploration,
Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space in 2006.
He lives in Silver City, New Mexico, and spends some of his summer at
Minnesota lake cabin.
Schmitt is also involved in several civic projects, including the
improvement of the Senator Harrison H. Schmitt Big Sky Hang Glider
Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Views on global warming
Scientific opinion on global warming
Scientific opinion on global warming and Global
Schmitt's view on climate change diverges from the frequently reported
scientific consensus, as he emphasizes natural over human factors as
driving climate. Schmitt has expressed the view that the risks posed
by climate change are overrated, and suggests instead that climate
change is a tool for people who are trying to increase the size of
government. He resigned his membership in the Planetary Society
because of its stance on the subject, writing in his resignation
letter that the "global warming scare is being used as a political
tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and
decision-making." He spoke at the March 2009 International Conference
on Climate Change sponsored by the Heartland Institute. He
appeared in December that year on the Fox Business Network, saying
"[t]he CO2 scare is a red herring".
In a 2009 interview with libertarian talk-radio host Alex Jones,
Schmitt asserted a link between Soviet Communism and the American
environmental movement: "I think the whole trend really began with the
fall of the Soviet Union. Because the great champion of the opponents
of liberty, namely communism, had to find some other place to go and
they basically went into the environmental movement." At the
Heartland Institute's sixth International Conference on Climate Change
Schmitt said that climate change was a stalking horse for National
Schmitt co-authored a May 8, 2013
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal opinion column
with William Happer, contending that increasing levels of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere are not significantly correlated with global
warming, attributing the "single-minded demonization of this natural
and essential atmospheric gas" to advocates of government control of
energy production. Noting a positive relationship between crop
resistance to drought and increasing carbon dioxide levels, the
authors argued, "Contrary to what some would have us believe,
increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing
population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity."
In popular culture
Schmitt was portrayed by
Tom Amandes in the 1998 miniseries From the
Earth to the Moon.
Schmitt appeared in the 2007 BBC Two documentary
Moon for Sale.
Schmitt was interviewed on Infowars, the Alex Jones radio show, on
July 31, 2009, regarding his opposition to the mainstream scientific
assessment of global warming. He admitted being a fan of the show,
saying he "keeps up on things out here".
He appeared in an episode of the television show Bill Nye the Science
He was interviewed in the 2009 BBC television show James May on the
He was interviewed by Maltese television talk show Xarabank, the
episode airing December 11, 2009, 2045 CET.
Awards and honors
Schmitt receives the 2015 Leif Erikson Exploration Award from Ólafur
Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland.
NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1973)
He was made an honorary fellow of the Geological Society of America
for his efforts in geoscience in 1984.
1989 Recipient of the G. K. Gilbert Award
One of the elementary schools in Schmitt's hometown of Silver City,
New Mexico was named in his honor in the mid-1970s. An image of the
astronaut riding a rocket through space is displayed on the front of
Harrison Schmitt Elementary School.
Special Award has been changed to the
Harrison Schmitt Award in
2011. It recognizes individuals or organizations that, for a variety
of reasons, do not qualify for other Association honors or awards.
Schmitt received the award in 1973 for his contribution as the first
geologist to land on the moon and study its geology.
2015 Recipient of the Leif Erikson Exploration Award, awarded by The
Exploration Museum, for his scientific work on the surface of the Moon
in 1972, and for his part in the geology training of all the
astronauts that walked on the
Moon before him.
Schmitt is one of the astronauts featured in the documentary In the
Shadow of the Moon. He also contributed to the book NASA's
Scientist-Astronauts by David Shayler and Colin Burgess.
^ "Apollo 17". NASA. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
^ "Extravehicular Activity".
NASA history. Retrieved 29 June
^ "Naked Science: Living on the Moon". National Geographic Television.
August 15, 2010.
^ a b c "50 Years in Space - Harrison Schmitt". California Institute
of Technology. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved
June 16, 2009.
^ "Learned to walk on the moon in Oslo". Universitas. May 27, 2009.
Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved June 15,
^ "Harrison H. Schmitt". Distinguished Alumni Award. California
Institute of Technology Alumni Association. Retrieved 31 May
2011. [permanent dead link]
^ "A Running Start –
Apollo 17 up to Powered Descent Initiation".
Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Archived from the original on 20 March
2012. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
^ Nancy S. Todd. "Lunar Sample Compendium".
^ "Rock Suggests Early Moon's Fiery Core Churned a Magnetic Field".
The New York Times. 20 January 2009.
^ "The Astronauts Who Went to the
Moon - The 40th Anniversary of the
Moon Landing - TIME". TIME.com. July 16, 2009.
^ "Harrison J. Schmitt". engr.wisc.edu. University of Wisconsin—.
Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved November 20,
^ Kulcinski, G. L.; Schmitt, Harrison H. (September 1, 1988). "The
moon: an abundant source of clean and safe fusion fuel for the 21st
Helium-3 and Fusion Power. p. 35-64.
^ Return to the Moon: exploration, enterprise, and energy in the human
settlement of space, Springer, 2006 ISBN 0-387-24285-6
^ Schmitt, Harrison H. (1997). "Interlune-Intermars Business
Initiative: Returning to Deep Space". Journal of Aerospace
Engineering. 10 (2): 60–67.
NASA - Schmitt Completes
NASA Advisory Council Service; Ford Named
Chairman". nasa.gov. NASA. October 2008.
NASA Advisory Council Chair Jack Schmitt Quits Planetary
Society Over New Roadmap", SpaceRef.com, November 17, 2008.
Harrison Schmitt withdraws nomination for
New Mexico energy
secretary". El Paso Times. February 11, 2011. Archived from the
original on September 6, 2012.
^ Simonich, Milan (February 11, 2011). "
Harrison Schmitt withdraws
New Mexico energy secretary". El Paso Times. Archived
from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved October 6,
^ Schmitt, Harrison H. (2005). Return to the Moon: Exploration,
Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space. Springer
London, Limited. ISBN 978-0-387-31064-0. Retrieved 23 March
NASA Advisory Council Chair Jack Schmitt Quits Planetary
Society Over New Roadmap". SpaceRef. November 17, 2008. Retrieved July
^ "Ex-Astronaut: Global Warming Is Bunk", Fox News, Feb 16, 2009
^ "Is Global Warming Real?". Fox Business.
^ "Moonstruck: Climate science denier Harrison Schmitt, appointed to
head NM environment agency, believes enviros and scientists like
Holdren are communists - ThinkProgress". ThinkProgress.
^ Klein, Naomi (2011-11-09). "Capitalism vs. the Climate". The Nation.
^ Harrison H. Schmitt And
William Happer (8 May 2013). "Harrison H.
Schmitt and William Happer: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide". WSJ.
^ "From the
Earth to the Moon: Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved
March 17, 2018.
^ "Bill Nye the Science Guy". TV Guide. Retrieved March 17,
NASA Biography". NASA. Retrieved February 6,
^ Geological Society of America: Award & Medal Recipients
^ "Dyar wins 2016 GSA Gilbert Award". NASA. Retrieved March 17,
Harrison Schmitt Elementary - Home". Archived from the original on
2014-07-02. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
^ "The Leif Erikson Exploration Awards". Retrieved 2015-11-30.
^ "In the Shadow of the Moon: Full Cast and Crew". IMDb. Retrieved
March 17, 2018.
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Harrison Schmitt visits University of
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David Scott (CDR, Apollo 15)
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Harrison Schmitt (LMP, Apollo 17)
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Harrison H. Schmitt
List of astronauts by year of selection
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