T he Space Exploration auction on 20 July in New York features the collections of several of the astronauts who risked their lives in the pursuit of President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious and dramatic goal of “Landing a Man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth,” including none other than Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 9 Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 13 Mission Commander Jim Lovell, the Estate of Apollo 16 Mission Commander John Young, as well as from the Estate of the man who documented it all so wonderfully for us, NASA Senior Photographer Bill “Two More” Taub. Here we look at these American heroes and the remarkable property from their collections.
Russell Louis “Rusty” Schweickart (b. 1935)
Rusty Schweickart was born in Neptune, New Jersey, and received both his Bachelor of Science, and Master of Science from MIT in 1956 and 1963 respectively. He served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Airforce from 1956-1963 before being accepted to NASA’s third astronaut class. As part of Group 3, Schweickart worked alongside thirteen other test pilots, including future Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Mike Collins, and Dave Scott. Schweickart’s inaugural space flight came in March 1969 as the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 9, during which he performed the very first EVA of the Apollo program.
As a crewmember aboard Apollo 9, Schweickart spend just over 241 hours in space with Commander James McDivitt, and Command Module Pilot Dave Scott. The mission marked a number of important firsts, including the first manned flight of the Lunar Module, and the first extravehicular activity (EVA) of the Apollo program. After working on Skylab 2 and 4, Schweickart left NASA in 1977 to pursue opportunities in California state government and private enterprise.
Fom the collection of Russell Schweickart
Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (b. 1930)
Buzz Aldrin was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1951 with a degree in mechanical engineering, before going on to receive an Sc.D. in astronautics at MIT, where his thesis was titled “Guidance for Manned Orbital Rendezvous.” He served in the United States Air Force as a jet fighter during the Korean War, before entering NASA’s third Astronaut Group in 1963.
Aldrin was selected as the backup Pilot for Gemini 9, the Pilot for Gemini 12, and the backup Command Module Pilot for Apollo 8. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 lunar landing, a profound global moment, which was televised live on CBS, and watched by an estimated 600 million viewers around the world. In the course of his career with NASA, Aldrin logged 289 hours and 53 minutes in space, of which, 7 hours and 52 minutes were spent in Extravehicular Activities (EVA). Aldrin left NASA in 1971. In the years since, he has been a continued advocate for space exploration, including a human mission to Mars, efforts which continue to this day.
From the Collection of Buzz Aldrin
James “Jim” Lovell (b. 1928 )
James Lovell was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with the class of 1952, and the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1958. Lovell joined John Young as part of NASA’s second astronaut group (“the New Nine”) in 1962. Lovell spent almost 14 days in space with Frank Borman as the Pilot of Gemini 7, and later served as the Commander of Gemini 12 with Buzz Aldrin, the final manned Gemini flight before the commencement of the Apollo program.
In December of 1968, Lovell reunited with Borman and served as the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the moon, orbit it, and return to Earth. The crew orbited the Moon ten times over the course of 20 hour before successfully exiting lunar orbit, returning to the Earth on December 27th. In April of 1970, Lovell was the Commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, serving alongside Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise. The crew was forced to abort the lunar landing following an oxygen tank explosion that damaged the Service Module, but were able to navigate a successful return to Earth thanks to the joint efforts and quick thinking of crewmembers and Mission Control personnel. Lovell retired from the space program in 1973. Like John Young, Lovell is one of only three astronauts to have flown to the Moon twice, additionally sharing that honor with Gene Cernan.
From the Collection of James Lovell
John Watts Young (1930-2018)
John Young was born in San Francisco, and received a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952 before joining the Navy. As a member of NASA’s second astronaut group in 1962, Young trained alongside a group known as the “New Nine,” including Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad, James McDivitt, Tom Stafford, and Ed White. Young had a long and distinguished career at NASA, serving as part of the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle Programs. He became the first of the New Nine to fly to space on Gemini 3, the first crewed flight of the Gemini spacecraft. As the Commander of Gemini X, Young and Michael Collins successfully completed the mission’s objective to execute the program’s first double rendezvous, and broke the altitude record for human spaceflight. After becoming the first person to fly solo around the Moon aboard Apollo 10, Young became the ninth person to walk on the Moon as the Commander of Apollo 16 in 1972. He is one of only three astronauts to have flown to the Moon twice, sharing that honor with Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan. After the conclusion of the Apollo Program, Young served in the Space Shuttle Program, and as the Chief of the Astronaut Office from 1974-1987. Young retired from NASA in 2004 after 42 years with the agency.
From the collection of John Young
William “Bill” (“Two More”) Taub
Bill Taub was NASA’s first senior photographer, covering every major NASA event from the beginning of project Mercury to the end of Apollo; nearly every official photograph of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts was taken by Taub, and the wonderful informative captions found on the backs of the photos distributed to the press were written by him. At the age of 17, Taub was offered a job building aircraft models at NACA’s Langley Field in Hampton, VA. Shortly after he arrived, he succeeded in photographing the spark of an engine inside a cylinder using his Leica camera, something that NACA’s official photographers had been unable to capture (as they were using the wrong equipment). This caught the attention of officials at Langley, who then offered him a new job as a photographer; the rest is history. “I had the privilege to be there to record it. I made sure I recorded it to the best of my ability, because I have a sense of history.” Mr. Taub was often one of the last people to see the astronauts before liftoff, earning the nickname “Two More Taub” for his insistence on snapping just a couple more shots.