World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Harrison Schmitt

Article Id: WHEBN0000013793
Reproduction Date:

Title: Harrison Schmitt  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: United States Senate election in New Mexico, 1976, United States Senate election in New Mexico, 1982, Apollo 17, Apollo program, Moon for Sale
Collection: 1935 Births, 1972 in Spaceflight, American Astronaut-Politicians, American Astronauts, American Geologists, Apollo Program Astronauts, Articles Containing Video Clips, California Institute of Technology Alumni, Climate Change Deniers (Politicians), Climate Change Deniers (Scientists), Harvard University Alumni, Living People, New Mexico Republicans, Penrose Medal Winners, People from Grant County, New Mexico, People Who Have Walked on the Moon, Recipients of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Republican Party United States Senators, State Cabinet Secretaries of New Mexico, United States Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductees, United States Senators from New Mexico, University of Oslo Alumni, University of Wisconsin–madison Faculty
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Harrison Schmitt

Harrison Schmitt
United States Senator
from New Mexico
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Joseph Montoya
Succeeded by Jeff Bingaman
Personal details
Born Harrison Hagan Schmitt
(1935-07-03) July 3, 1935
Santa Rita, New Mexico, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Teresa Fitzgibbon
Alma mater
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Other names
Jack Schmitt
Other occupation
Time in space
12d 13h 52m
Selection 1965 Scientist group
Missions Apollo 17
Mission insignia
Apollo 17 insignia
Retirement August 30, 1975

Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is an American geologist, retired NASA astronaut, university professor and former U.S. senator from New Mexico.

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 person to set foot on the Moon, and as of 2014, the second-to-last person to step off of the Moon (he 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.[1] 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 to the United States Senate as a member from New Mexico. As the Republican candidate in the 1976 election, he defeated the two-term Democrat incumbent Joseph Montoya, but, running for re-election in 1982, was himself defeated, by Democrat Jeff Bingaman.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and education 1.1
    • NASA career 1.2
    • Post-NASA career 1.3
  • Views on global warming 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • Awards and honors 4
  • Media 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early life and education

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Schmitt grew up in nearby Silver City,[2] 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 at the University of Oslo in Norway.[2][3][4] He received a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University in 1964, based on his geological field studies in Norway.[2]

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 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. (Commander) and 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 NASA to reassign Schmitt to a remaining flight. As a result, Schmitt was assigned in August 1971 to fly on the last mission, Apollo 17, replacing Joe Engle as Lunar Module Pilot. Schmitt landed on the Moon with commander Gene Cernan in December 1972.[5]

Schmitt claims to have taken the photograph of the Earth known as The Blue Marble, one of the most widely distributed photographic images in existence. (NASA officially credits the image to the entire Apollo 17 crew.)

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".[6] Among other distinctions, it is the central piece of evidence suggesting that the Moon once possessed an active magnetic field.[7]

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.

Post-NASA career

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 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 the 1982, but due to a deep recession and concerns that he wasn't paying attention to local matters, he was defeated in a re-election bid by the state Attorney General Jeff Bingaman by a 54% to 46% margin. Bingaman's campaign slogan asked, "What on Earth has he done for you lately?"[8] Following his Senate term, Schmitt has been a consultant in business, geology, space, and public policy.

During his term in the Senate, Schmitt sat at the chamber's candy desk.

Schmitt is an adjunct professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison,[9] and has long been a proponent of lunar resource utilization.[10][11] 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 reactors.[12]

Schmitt was chair of the [14]

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,[15] but was forced to give up the appointment the following month after refusing to submit to a required background investigation.[16] El Paso Times called him the "most celebrated" candidate for New Mexico energy secretary.[17]

Schmitt wrote a book entitled "Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space" in 2006.[18]

He lives in Silver City, New Mexico, and spends some of his summer at his northern Minnesota lake cabin.

Senator Schmitt is also involved in several civic projects, including the improvement of the Senator Harrison H. Schmitt Big Sky Hang Glider Park in Albuquerque, NM.[19]

Views on global warming

Schmitt's view on climate change diverges from the prevailing scientific opinion on climate change as he emphasizes natural over human factors as driving climate. The prevailing scientific opinion links global warming to human activity and Schmitt is therefore considered by Mitchell Anderson from the DeSmogBlog to "deny climate".[20] In repeated comments, Schmitt has expressed his view that the risks posed by climate change are overrated, and suggest instead that climate change is a tool for people who are trying to increase the size of government.[21] 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.[22] He appeared in December that year on the Fox Business Network, saying "[t]he CO2 scare is a red herring".[23]

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."[24] At the Heartland Institute's sixth International Conference on Climate Change Schmitt said that climate change was a stalking horse for National Socialism.[25]

Schmitt co-authored a May 8, 2013 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.".[26]

In popular culture

Awards and honors


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.


  1. ^ "Naked Science: Living on the Moon". National Geographic Television. August 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "50 Years in Space - Harrison Schmitt". California Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on June 16, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Learned to walk on the moon in Oslo". Universitas. May 27, 2009. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved June 15, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Harrison H. Schmitt". Distinguished Alumni Award.  
  5. ^ "A Running Start – Apollo 17 up to Powered Descent Initiation". Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Lunar Sample Compendium at
  7. ^ "Rock Suggests Early Moon's Fiery Core Churned a Magnetic Field", The New York Times, January 19, 2009
  8. ^ "40th Anniversary of Apollo 11: Moonstruck", Time Magazine, July 27, 2009
  9. ^ Schmitt, Harrison J
  10. ^ "The moon: an abundant source of clean and safe fusion fuel for the 21st century" in NASA, Lewis Research Center, Lunar Helium-3 and Fusion Power pp. 35–64 (SEE N89-14842 06-75)
  11. ^ Return to the Moon: exploration, enterprise, and energy in the human settlement of space, Springer, 2006 ISBN 0-387-24285-6
  12. ^ Schmitt, Harrison H. (1997). "Interlune-Intermars Business Initiative: Returning to Deep Space". Journal of Aerospace Engineering 10 (2): 60.  
  13. ^ "Schmitt Completes NASA Advisory Council Service; Ford Named Chairman", NASA Press Release
  14. ^ "Former NASA Advisory Council Chair Jack Schmitt Quits Planetary Society Over New Roadmap",, Nov 17, 2008.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Harrison Schmitt withdraws nomination for New Mexico energy secretary", El Paso Times, Feb 11, 2011
  17. ^ Simonich, Milan (11 February 2011). "Harrison Schmitt withdraws nomination for New Mexico energy secretary". El Paso Times. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  18. ^ Schmitt, Harrison H. (2005). Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space. Springer London, Limited.  
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Former Astronaut in Bed with Big Oil?", DeSmog Blog, 17 February 2009 (accessed 15 May 2013)
  21. ^ "Profile of Harrison Schmitt", DeSmog Blog (accessed 15 May 2013)
  22. ^ "Ex-Astronaut: Global Warming Is Bunk", Fox News, Feb 16, 2009
  23. ^ "Is Global Warming Real? Climate debate heats up", Fox Business Network interview by Stuart Varney, 22 December 2009 (accessed 9 September 2010)
  24. ^ Moonstruck: Climate science denier Harrison Schmitt, appointed to head NM environment agency, believes enviros and scientists like Holdren are communists « Climate Progress
  25. ^  
  26. ^ "In Defense of Carbon Dioxide", Wall Street Journal opinion piece, 8 May 2013 (accessed 13 May 2013)
  27. ^ Geological Society of America: Award & Medal Recipients
  28. ^ "Harrison Schmitt Elementary - Home". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  29. ^

External links

  • UW prof recounts '72 trip to moon
  • Harrison Schmitt visits University of Malta in 2009 and Handaq School
  • NASA Biography
  • Spacefacts biography of Harrison Schmitt
United States Senate
Preceded by
Joseph Montoya
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Mexico
Served alongside: Pete Domenici
Succeeded by
Jeff Bingaman
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.