Man on the Moon in Iceland

Photo: NASA

Harrison Schmitt, one of the twelve Apollo astronauts to have walked on the Moon, is currently visiting Iceland – 48 years after his first visit to the country to train for his historic Moon mission.

Schmitt has not visited Iceland since his training expedition back in 1967, but has always been interested in the country and jumped at the chance of visiting again.

The trip was the initiative of Örlygur Hnefill Örlygsson, Curator of the Exploration Museum in Húsavík, in northern Iceland.

Before the commencement of the United States’ Apollo missions (1969-72), aspiring astronauts were brought to Iceland to familiarise themselves with the terrain, as it was thought that the Icelandic and lunar landscapes bore similarities.

Schmitt flew to Iceland from Denver yesterday morning with his wife, Theresa Fitzgibbon. In the afternoon they were treated to a guided tour of the Icelandic Parliament (‘Alþingi’) by Speaker of the House, Einar k. Guðfinnsson.

After that, the couple were shown around Iceland’s famous Þingvellir area.

Schmitt underlines the importance of those Iceland missions half a century ago for the Moon programme. “Iceland is a volcanic island and many parts of the Moon are in volcanic areas,” he explains. “It was very important for astronauts to familiarise themselves with such conditions.”

Schmitt will be speaking at Reykjavik University this week on the moon landings and conditions on the Moon. His talk begins at 5pm on Thursday 9 July.

Schmitt will be joined in Iceland over the next few days by fellow Apollo astronauts Walter Cunningham and Rusty Schweickart and the family of the first ever ever ‘man on the Moon’, Neil Armstrong.

Visiting Alþingi.

Visiting Alþingi. Photo: Styrmir Kári

Schmitt says that the stone used in the Alþingi building ...

Schmitt says that the stone used in the Alþingi building reminds him of the Moon. Photo: Styrmir Kári

Visiting Þingvellir.

Visiting Þingvellir. Photo: Styrmir Kári

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