Former NASA astronaut Vance Brand is being honored by the nation's aerospace agency as an Ambassador of Exploration for his involvement in the Apollo space program in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Brand, who still serves NASA as the deputy associate director of programs at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, will be the focus of ceremonies on Friday evening, Jan. 20 in his hometown of Longmont, Colo.
The award is a small sample of lunar material encased in Lucite and mounted for public display. The material is part of the 842 pounds of samples brought back to Earth during the six Apollo lunar expeditions from 1969 to 1972. As part of the ceremonies, Brand will present the lunar sample to the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center for display.
"The rock selected for Longmont's museum is from Hadley Rille area of the moon that was picked up on Apollo 15," he related. "I picked that because I was backup command module pilot for that mission."
Brand is also scheduled to talk about his experiences in the space program when the new display will be unveiled during an open house at the Longmont Museum on Saturday, Jan. 21.
"I feel that it's an honor, and a good thing both for me and for the museum," Brand commented. "Perhaps it will help spread the story of what occurred during the Apollo lunar missions more than 30 years ago."
"The Longmont Museum & Cultural Center is honored to be the repository of Vance Brand's award," added museum director Martha Clevenger. "Mr. Brand's contributions to science, the spirit of exploration, and the often elusive goal of international cooperation are inspiring and challenge each of us find the best within ourselves."
An aerospace engineer and test pilot who has logged more than 9,700 flying hours, Brand was one of the 19 pilot-astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966, and flew on four space missions. A support crewman on Apollo 8 and 13, Brand later served as backup command module pilot for Apollo 15 and backup commander for Skylabs 3 and 4.
Following the conclusion of the Apollo moon-landing program, the Brand made history as command module pilot with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. This joint American and Russian mission was the first international manned space flight, and was an important part of improving American-Russian relations. Brand was also mission commander for three space shuttle flights from 1982 to 1990, commanding missions on both the shuttles Columbia and Challenger. He has logged 746 hours in space. Brand has held a variety of management positions since transferring to NASA Dryden in 1994.
NASA is presenting the Ambassador of Exploration Award to 38 astronauts who participated in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs from 1961 to 1972. The awards are intended to recognize the contributions of America's first generation of astronauts to space exploration and to help inspire a new generation to carry the torch of space exploration throughout the solar system.
PHOTO EDITORS: A high-resolution photo to support this release is available electronically on the NASA Dryden web site at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/newsphotos/index.html .
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