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Why Apollo 11 is so important to Arizonians

Posted at 7:30 AM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 18:42:14-04

PHOENIX- Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon almost 50 years ago on July 20th, 1969.

What some don’t know is that some of the preparation for Apollo 11 occurred right here in Arizona. The astronauts often performed science training, instrument development and lunar mapping at Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory.

Here is a little historic breakdown of the Arizona and Apollo 11 tie-up.

From 1961 to 1969, artists worked with scientists to create lunar maps at the observatory. They used Lowell telescopes to observe the moon during preparation.

In 1963, US Geological Survey (USGS) Branch of Astrogeology of Flagstaff started creating what would be the destination for astronaut science training and lunar mapping in Flagstaff.

From 1963 to 1972, all astronauts who walked on the moon trained in multiple locations in Northern Arizona. These astronauts include Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Alan Shepard and Flagstaff scientist, Jack Schmitt.

Since 1963, the USGS Astrogeology Science Center helps NASA and other agencies with planetary mapping throughout the solar system to this day.

In 1967, a simulated lunar surface was created using explosives to resemble a Moon crater, in the cinder fields near Sunset Crater.

Fast forward two years, NASA and USGS used the Sunset Crater, Merriam Crater and volcanic features to test lunar rover vehicle simulators, two of which were built in Flagstaff. One of the vehicle simulators is in the USGS Science Center today.

The same year, Coconino County Superior Court reporters traveled to Mission Control in Texas to transcribe conversations between astronauts an Mission Control personnel. Apollo 11 Mission was then officially named the first manned moon landing.

From the year of 1969 to 1972, scientists from the USGS Branch of Astrogeology worked at the Mission Control in Texas to help during the flights and excursions.