Legendary astronauts and NASA officials give a ‘Salute to the Pioneers of Space’ this month

On Saturday, Dec. 15, the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation invites the public to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17, and, former astronaut and retired Navy Capt. Gene Cernan’s last walk on the moon. This once-in-a-lifetime event will be held at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, and will include: panel discussions with astronauts and NASA officials from the well-known Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, a luncheon with a guest speaker, an evening reception and dinner with unveiling of the Museum’s newest exhibit, a full-scale replica of an Apollo Lunar Excursion Model.

The “Salute to the Pioneers of Space” schedule of events for Saturday, Dec. 15:

10 a.m. - Apollo XIII (13) panel

Learn about the near-catastrophic flight of Apollo XIII, as told by the astronauts themselves. Apollo XIII commander James Lovell, retired Navy captain and fighter pilot, will discuss the harrowing events of that mission with Gemini/Apollo flight director Eugene Kranz and NASA engineer/flight director Glynn Lunney, who were key in successfully bringing the crew home after an oxygen tank explosion crippled the Apollo XIII Command/Service module.

11:45 a.m. Luncheon with special guest speaker

Tickets are $25 per person and include a guaranteed seat for panel discussions. Tickets are limited and can be purchased online at www.NavalAviationMuseum.org/SpaceEvent.

1:30 p.m. Mercury, Gemini and Apollo panel

Panelists scheduled include former astronauts: John Glenn (first American to orbit Earth, Marine fighter pilot, Senator and oldest man to fly in space), David Scott (retired Air Force colonel, Gemini astronaut and commander of Apollo XV, first to drive on the Moon), Thomas Stafford (retired Air Force brigadier general, Gemini astronaut, commander of Apollo X and commander of the first joint U.S.-Soviet space mission), and Richard Gordon (retired Navy captain, pilot aboard Gemini XI which achieved a record apogee altitude, and command-module pilot of Apollo XII), among other potential panelists.