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Astronaut Training

On January 16, 1963, NASA sent its second class of astronauts, the “Next Nine,” to Flagstaff to learn geology. The group included future Moon walkers Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad, and John Young, as well as Moon orbiters Jim Lovell and Tom Stafford.

Accompanied by geologists, the group first visited Meteor Crater and Sunset Crater to study geological features up close. After dinner at Lowell Observatory, they went  to Lowell’s ACIC office to see how similar features on the Moon were depicted on maps. They then split up into three groups to view actual lunar features through telescopes. One group stayed at Lowell to use the 24-inch Clark refractor while the others went to Northern Arizona University and the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Flagstaff Station.

The trip proved successful and northern Arizona soon became a focal point for astronaut training; in fact, every astronaut who walked on the Moon trained here.