Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where Astronauts Did Tread... Aside from the Moon

NASA and the Navajo

When NASA was preparing for the Apollo Project, it took the astronauts to a Navajo reservation in Arizona for training.

One day, a Navajo elder and his son came across the space crew walking among the rocks.

The elder, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question.

His son translated for the NASA people: "What are these guys in the big suits doing?"

One of the astronauts said that they were practicing for a trip to the moon.

When his son relayed this comment the Navajo elder got all excited and asked if it would be possible to give to the astronauts a message to deliver to the moon.

Recognizing a promotional opportunity when he saw one, a NASA official accompanying the astronauts said, "Why certainly!" and told an underling to get a tape recorder.

The Navajo elder's comments into the microphone were brief. The NASA official asked the son if he would translate what his father had said.

The son listened to the recording and laughed uproariously. But he refused to translate. So the NASA people took the tape to a nearby Navajo village and played it for other members of the tribe. They too laughed long and loudly but also refused to translate the elder's message to the moon.

Finally, an official government translator was summoned. After he finally stopped laughing the translator relayed the message:

"Watch out for these assholes. They have come to steal your land."


Well, that's a pretty darn good joke but does it have any validity?

Astronauts actually trained at places such as Schooner and Sedan craters and Buckboard Mesa of the Nevada Test Site.  And yes, they did train at locations such as Cinder Lake crater field, in Arizona.  In fact, astronauts trained at other geologic, desolate locations.

But was the story/joke about the Navajo elder true?  Who knows?

I'd like to think so... -SW



Before Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon on July 29, 1969, Armstrong, and astronauts Dick Gordon, Buzz Aldrin, Dave Scott, and Russell Schweikart left their footprints on the Nevada Test Site as part of their lunar training.

Their three-day visit began on February 16, 1965. It was the first training mission by a group of astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Their mission was to carry out geological and geophysical studies at Sedan crater, Buckboard Mesa and Schooner crater, which later aided the astronauts in observing and collecting material from the moon's surface, and helping expand knowledge and understanding about our solar system. 

Read more of the story.

More about the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame.

Schooner Crater


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