Sending humans to the Moon was arguably the most difficult technological undertaking in all of history. For sure, the best of America's scientists and engineers were taxed to the limit in order to accomplish nine manned flights to the Moon, six of which involved landing on the crater-filled lunar surface. The scientific results of the Apollo program were staggering. Much that was learned during Apollo required scientists to revise their basic understanding and theories about the Moon's formation and history. And the samples and data collected during Apollo will keep those scientists busy for decades to come.
But there is another aspect to the Apollo Program which, in the ensuing years, has had little attention and almost no visibility in an accurate and historical way, and that is the actual recording of events which took place during these complex and difficult flights. The twelve astronauts who landed and explored the Earth's closest neighbor were the only human beings ever to observe firsthand the surface of a body in our universe other than the Earth. Indeed, their personal comments and interpretations made during their exploration of the Moon are rare national treasures.
Hour upon hour of the astronauts' conversations with each other and with Mission Control in Houston, as well as television scenes taken during their lunar expeditions, were recorded as they occurred from July 1969 to December 1972. For all the years since then, these recordings were available but, for the most part, remained "on the shelf" to collect dust. Now, through the dedication and hard work of historian Eric Jones and the lunar astronauts, the aural and visual history of the Apollo lunar expeditions is being taken off the shelf, dusted off, and presented in a way which everyone can understand and enjoy. Besides cleaning up the voice transcripts, Eric is conducting exhaustive interviews with the lunar astronauts and inserting their recollections of the events which took place more than twenty years ago.
The first portion of this work to be released is the story of the last lunar landing mission, Apollo 17, which was flown in December 1972. I was honored to be the Lead Flight Director in Mission Control for this flight and, although I later became Director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, I will always look back to Apollo as the years of my greatest sense of accomplishment during my career at NASA. Apollo 17 was the finale to the exploration of the Moon by humans in this millennium, but it is a good place to begin. During the preparation of the Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Journal, I had the opportunity to review it at several stages. It is an intricate, accurate, fast-moving, fascinating, and often humorous record on one of mankind's early expeditions away from the Earth.
I know you will enjoy it!
April 27, 1995
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