Before Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they went to Hawaii to train on the Big Island’s lunar landscapes.
Now, decades-old photos are surfacing of astronauts scooping up Hawaii’s soil and riding across volcanic fields in a “moon buggy” vehicle.
The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems is displaying the photos at its Hilo headquarters. The Hawaii state agency’s executive director Rob Kelso found the images at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Kelso says astronauts from Apollo missions 13 through 17 trained in Hawaii as did some back up crews.
Some training was on Mauna Kea volcano, where glacial runoff crushed and refined rock into power. Astronauts also trained on recent lava flows.
Today, robots are tested on the Big Island for moon and Mars missions.