Apollo Training: When Arizona Stood In for the Moon

Throughout the 1960s, NASA scientists and technicians worked relentlessly to train their astronauts for the Apollo missions to come. Locations throughout Arizona were selected by the United States Geological Survey’s new astrogeology branch to serve as lunar analogues—the moon right here at home. Arizona had plenty of existing craters, exposed canyons, volcanic cinder cones, and lava fields to test NASA’s people, suits, vehicles, and equipment. And to make things even more lunar, a field north of Flagstaff was loaded with explosives and blown to bits to create a cratered landscape complete with ejecta, the underlying rock excavated and flung onto the surface by the simulated meteor impacts.

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