Princeton in Space

Several Princetonians have braved the final frontier, beginning with NASA’s Apollo missions. Here we present a brief overview of their contributions to space exploration.


Charles “Pete” Conrad ’53

Charles Conrad studied aeronautical engineering at Princeton, earning his B.S. in 1953. A little less than a decade later, NASA chose him alongside eight other men to train for the Gemini and Apollo projects. After his return to Earth as the pilot for Gemini 5 in 1965 set a record for the longest time humans had spent in space (eight days), Princeton took the unprecedented step of raising its flag above Nassau Hall to celebrate.

As commander of the Apollo 12 mission in 1969, Conrad was the third human to walk on the moon, quipping, “That might have been a short step for Neil [Armstrong] but it was a damn long one for me.” He took five Princeton flags with him on the trip, later presenting one to the University.

Princeton University flag taken to the moon by Charles “Pete” Conrad ’53. Memorabilia Collection (AC053).

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This Week in Princeton History for August 21-27

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, NASA takes a Princeton telescope to space, a graduate takes Olympic gold, and more.

August 21, 1972—A telescope built by Princeton University is on board for the launch of NASA’s Copernicus satellite.

The Princeton Telescope in the process of being installed on board the Copernicus satellite, 1972. Princeton Alumni Weekly Photograph Collection (AC126), Box 25.

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