Friday, June 5, 2009

Apollo's legacy, lunar geology illuminated

Fauquier County Public Library will host a revealing 60-minute retrospective entitled On the Shoulders of Giants: Project Apollo to the Moon, presented by Gar Schulin at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 14, in the John Barton Payne Building. The free lecture is sponsored by the library and the Fauquier Heritage Institute.

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have gazed at the moon in awe and wonderment, perceiving rugged mountains, mysterious seas, sacred spirits and even humorous faces. Modern telescopes brought this alien world into sharper focus and study more than a century ago. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the United States won the Cold War race to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. For a brief moment, the monumental effort took a futuristic, 21st Century event and placed it squarely in the middle of the 20th Century.

During Project Apollo these unseen vistas were brought to life during a series of spectacular expeditions by 24 bold American astronauts, and supported by more than 400,000 engineers, technicians and scientists from 1968 through 1972. The Apollo lunar missions led to many important discoveries while raising even more questions. It represented the best of American character, spirit and technological innovation, yet these thrilling expeditions were abruptly canceled even as the program achieved its greatest scientific advance - its remaining hardware already built and un-flown.

The retrospective lecture will include a discussion of the early engineering test flights and an overview of the later extended-stay landing expeditions. Accomplishments of each mission will be reviewed while insight into the geology objectives and findings for each of the landing sites will be highlighted. Additional first-hand accounts as related to the presenter by the Apollo veterans will also be included.

Lecture presenter Gar Schulin is a Warrenton resident and career Defense Department employee. While a research assistant to Dr. Farouk El-Baz, the distinguished Project Apollo geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, Schulin supported a team of senior geologists engaged in ongoing lunar and planetary research. He helped open the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in 1976 and was recognized for his contributions by past NASM director and Apollo 11 veteran Michael Collins in 1977 and 1978; and more recently by Museum Director General John R. Dailey.

Mr. Schulin is a former member of the Association of Scientists and Engineers of the Naval Sea Systems Command, past president of the Baltimore-Washington Society of Allied Weight Engineers, and a former Smithsonian research assistant and museum docent. His preservation and community service includes memberships in the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution, Culpeper Minute Men Chapter; the Virginia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, Black Horse Camp #780; the Abbeville Institute; the Liberty Heritage Society; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation; and the National Air and Space Society. His articles on historic topics have appeared in local and national newspapers, magazines and Internet publications.

The Fauquier Heritage Institute was created to promote the study and love of American history by presenting free lectures by experienced speakers and historians. Contact program Co-chairs Mrs. Paula Johnson, (540) 341-7019, or Mrs. Jackie Lee, (540) 347-0607, for more information or to volunteer.

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