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Astronauts in Iceland

As noted yesterday in an AskIR question about the 50th anniversary celebrations for the training of American astronauts in Iceland, several U.S. astronauts are currently visiting Iceland with their families.

Astronaut and former U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt—who was on the crew of Apollo 17, the last of the American Apollo Moon missions—has spent the last few days traveling Iceland with representatives from the Exploration Museum in Húsavík.

He participated in an impromptu Q&A with Húsavík schoolchildren, who asked him, among other things, whether he had played golf on the moon.

“Young people always asks interesting questions. Their curiosity is often greater than that of their parents,” said Schmitt.

The former Senator also visited Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, and was given a private tour by Speaker Einar K. Guðfinnsson.

“I very much enjoyed the tour, and the Speaker was particularly hospitable—he escorted us around and told us the story of Alþingi from its founding to the modern day.”

On Sunday, Schmitt was joined by astronauts Rusty Schweickart and Walter Cunningham of the Apollo 7 and 9 missions, respectively, their wives Nancy Ramsey and Dot Cunningham, as well as Neil Armstrong’s oldest son Eric “Rick” Armstrong, and his three children.

Then yesterday Neil Armstrong’s younger son, Mark Armstrong, joined the group, accompanied by his three children, along with Dr. James Rice of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

On Wednesday, July 15, a ceremony will be held at the Exploration Museum, where a monument to the Askja training camp will be unveiled. Guests will also get a chance to meet the astronauts and their families.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, geologist and astronomy enthusiast Sævar Helgi Bragason, will deliver an address regarding the journey of the space probe New Horizons, which will have, by the time this article is published (July 14, 2015 — 11:49:57 UTC) have passed as close to Pluto as any spacecraft has before.

If all goes according to plan, a connection will be established with New Horizons’ control center, for a Q&A with principal investigator Alan Stern.

On Thursday, July 16, the group then plans to visit Askja and Holuhraun in Vatnajökull National Park. While their trip is private, the park is open to everyone, and travelers in the area are more than welcome to to approach the group and meet the astronauts.

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