Last man to land on moon has, 40 years later, big dreams for old stomping ground

The Canadian Press

LONDON, Ont. - You may have to excuse Harrison (Jack) Schmitt if the former American astronaut gets itchy feet for the moon these days.

It was 40 years ago next month, on Dec. 6, 1972, that he and fellow astronaut Eugene Cernan became the last humans to set foot on the lunar surface.

If the former Apollo 17 astronaut had his way, the United States would head back to the moon first, before travelling to planets like Mars.

The 77-year-old geologist, who has his eye on lunar mining opportunities, says the commercial sector could be back on the moon within 15 to 20 years.

Schmitt even sees a role for Canada whose mining industry, he says, is very active and is an important player in the world economy.

He also says humankind has the ability to put settlements on the moon within 40 years.

Talking about his own experience, Schmitt recalled moon-walking or skiing on moon dust in December 1972.

He told The Canadian Press in an interview that he used a cross-country skiing technique he learned as a student in Norway and that many Canadians are familiar with.

Schmitt also had a positive answer to the question of whether we are alone in the universe.

He said the chances are very, very good that there are carbon-based life forms on Earth-like planets that are now being discovered — but, he added, don't expect to see any little green men.

Schmitt made his comments at Western University where he's attending a Canadian space summit.

Schmitt, who was also a U.S. senator, was the last NASA astronaut to arrive on the moon. However, his colleague Cernan, who left the module first, was the last to return.