'Lost' NASA Photos Catch Apollo Teams in Training
Pacific Space Center officials made a lucky find of this collection of rare photos depicting astronaut training in Hawaii for the Apollo missions.
Given Hawaii's volcanic setting, the Big Island can have a decidedly lunar-looking landscape. For that reason, Apollo astronauts trained there in preparation for their missions. The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems got curious about new ways to document the island's role in astronaut training. Executive Director Rob Kelso visited NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and unearthed a collection of 'lost' photos of astronauts prepping for trips to the moon in the late-1960s and early 1970s. In the photo above from 1971, Apollo 17 mission astronauts take a practice drive in the lunar roving vehicle NASA called the "moon buggy."
Apollo Commander Dave Scott was participating in training sessions in this December 1970 photo.
Also in December 1970, astronauts embark on geological training courses across the "moon"-y Hawaiian soil.
Here, Apollo 17 crew members Joe Engle and Eugene Cernan grab a scoop to rehearse collecting soil samples in April 1970.
His face is obscured by the hat in this photo, but readers will undoubtedly know the name. This is ill-fated Apollo 13's Commander James A. Lovell, Jr. (of Tom Hanks, "Houston, we have a problem," fame), in December 1969, kneeling in the dirt to study the soil.
Just a few months after this picture was taken, on April 11, 1970, Lovell and his crew would embark upon NASA's unlucky mission number 13. Catastrophic equipment problems scrubbed the moon landing and nearly cost the crew members their lives. But ingenuity, sheer nerve, and incredible flight skills got them all home safely.
Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott and Lunar Module Pilot Jim Irwin work on soil collection in December 1970.
In this February 1967 photograph, a geology training course is in progress.
Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, and Stuart Roosa haul the modularized equipment transporter (MET) known to crew as the "rickshaw."
The Apollo 15 crew out for a trek during a geological training exercise in December 1970, in Apollo Valley on the Big Island.