|Selected for the Scientist-Astronaut program in 1965, Schmitt organized the lunar science training for the Apollo Astronauts, represented the crews during the development of hardware and procedures for lunar surface exploration, and oversaw the final preparation of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Descent Stage.
He was designated Mission Scientist in support of the Apollo 11 mission. After training as back-up Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 15, Schmitt served as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 17—the last Apollo mission to the moon. On December 11, 1972, he landed in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow as the only scientist and the last of 12 men to step on the Moon.
In 1975, after two years managing NASA's Energy Program Office, Schmitt fulfilled a long-standing personal commitment by entering politics. Elected in 1976, he served a six-year term in the U.S. Senate beginning in 1977. Senator Schmitt, the only "natural scientist" in the Senate since Thomas Jefferson was Vice-President of the United States, was a member of the Senate Commerce, Banking, Appropriations, Intelligence, and Ethics Committees. In his last two years in the Senate, Schmitt held the position of Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space and of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Harrison Schmitt is currently Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council. He consults, speaks and writes on policy issues of the future, the science of the Moon and Planets, and the American Southwest. His scientific research concentrates primarily on the synthesis of data related to the origin and evolution of the Moon and the terrestrial planets and on the economic geology of the lunar regolith and its resources. Schmitt presently is Adjunct Professor of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaching "Resources from Space." His current board memberships include Orbital Sciences Corporation, Edenspace Systems Corporation, and PhDx Systems, Inc., and, as a retired Director, he is a Member of the Corporation of the Draper Laboratory. He founded and is Chairman of Interlune-Intermars Initiative, Inc., advancing the private sector's acquisition of lunar resources and Helium-3 fusion power and clinical use of medical isotopes produced by fusion-related processes. Schmitt's book, "Return to the Moon—Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space," was published by Springer in 2006. Since 1964, he has been the author of many scientific journal papers and book chapters related to exploration, space and lunar science.
Schmitt's honors include 1973 Arthur S. Fleming Award, 1973 Distinguished Graduate of Caltech, 1973 Caltech Sherman Fairchild Scholar, NASA Distinguished Service Award, Fellow of the AIAA, Honorary Member of the the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Norwegian Geographical Society and Geological Association of Canada, 1989 Lovelace Award (space biomedicine), 1989 G.K. Gilbert Award (planetology), Aviation Week Legend Award, and Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America, American Institute of Mining, and Geological Society of London. Dr. Schmitt has received honorary degrees from several U.S. and Canadian Universities. In recognition of past service, the U.S. Department of State in July 2003 established the Harrison H. Schmitt Leadership Award for U.S. Fulbright Fellowship awardees. In 2007, Schmitt was awarded the first Eugene M. Shoemaker Memorial Award by Arizona State University and is the first recipient of the National Space Society's Gerard K. O'Neill Memorial Space Settlement award.