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Scientist’s Dream Was to Visit the Moon – After His Death, He Finally Made It There

Once upon a time, a couple fell in love while sharing a passion for space.

Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker met at a wedding in 1950, and after a year of sending each other long-distance letters, the loved-up pair got married.

A decade later, President John F. Kennedy announced that the nation would be sending a man to the moon, and Eugene was thrilled. As a geologist who specialized in studying craters—he had a promising chance of joining the NASA mission.

Then after a series of medical tests to examine his fitness, they learned that Shoemaker had Addison’s disease, an uncommon disorder that affects the adrenal glands. There was no possibility of him reaching the moon now.

The news was one of the greatest disappointments of Shoemaker’s life, Carolyn told Great Big Story. He “felt like his goal had suddenly disappeared.”

Still, Eugene’s life was full of big achievements. He dedicated himself to training astronauts like Neil Armstrong for their space expeditions. He combined the study of geology and astronomy, helping create the field of planetary science. He co-discovered a comet—Shoemaker-Levy 9—alongside his scientist wife and the astronomer David Levy.

Shoemaker’s life came to a sudden end in a car crash in 1997, while in Australia exploring a meteor crash site with his wife. Exploring craters like this one had always been a favorite passion for Eugene.

While she recovered in the hospital, Carolyn received an unexpected call from NASA. Would she be interested in having some of Eugene’s ashes join the Lunar Prospector mission to the moon?

She thought that would be wonderful.

The Prospector headed for the moon the following year and the most amazing thing happened: When the mission was finished, the unmanned vehicle ran out of fuel and crashed into the moon’s South Pole, creating a crater where Shoemaker’s ashes remain today.

You could say it was an accident made in heaven.


  • Kristine Mae Angeles
    Aug 11, 2020 16:57
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  • Mark Arcel Letada
    Aug 11, 2020 09:15
    check my articles too :)