September 9, 2014
images apparently from NASA
They are going. The astronauts, engineers, managers and scientists who took us to the Moon with Apollo are dying off. On Friday, September 5, Noel Hinners died. Few of the younger people, amateur or professional, who study the Moon today know Hinners' name, but he was a scientist-manager deeply involved in Apollo, Viking and later Mars missions, and many other major planetary science projects at Lockheed Martin and NASA. During Apollo, Hinners was the leader of the group that selected landing sites, including arguing against Copernicus as a site because it had been dated with Apollo 12 rocks. That was a wise choice because Copernicus probably had little to tell us about broader issues of lunar geology (although it's central peaks would have provided rocks from significant depth. Hinners also had the distinction of making the decision to turn off the Apollo seismometers left on the Moon, to save the $1,000,000/yr required to keep the program going. I met him a few times in the mid-1970s and 1980s, after Apollo, when I was a student, and later when I worked at Smithsonian, where he was Director of the Air and Space Museum. My limited experience was consistent what many of his friends have said, he was not only a very successful project leader but also a kind human who was a good friend.
Hinners on a Mars sample return mission
Jeff Warner Polaroid picture of Hinners in 1978.
Yesterday's LPOD: Classic Views
Tomorrow's LPOD: Rilles, Ejecta and Maybe Domes