Dick Hagar may not have been with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins when they became the first spaceflight crew to land on the Moon more than 50 years ago, but he was instrumental in getting them there.
A spacecraft engineer, trainer of astronauts and witness to both successful and tragic rocket launches, Hagar will visit the Cincinnati Museum Center's current Apollo 11: Destination Moon exhibition Jan. 11 and 12.
Originally from Delaware, Ohio, Hagar served in the U.S. Navy before moving to Florida in 1966, where he worked at NASA for 12 years, including on every Apollo launch — 1 through 17.
During his two-day visit, Hagar will share his experiences and knowledge of working closely with the space missions. He was nearby when the Apollo 1 command module burst into flames during a launch rehearsal test in January 1967, which killed the three astronauts aboard — Virgil Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.
"Hearing the alarm calls on the radio communications, Hagar ran toward the launch pad but was blown back when an oxygen tank on the craft exploded," a press release explains. "After the fire was extinguished, Hagar was one of the first to the spacecraft and was part of the investigative team searching for the cause of the fire."
The disaster caused NASA to rework much of the spacecraft's systems; it would take over 18 months before sending more astronauts into space with Apollo 7, the first to carry a crew into space. Hagar also worked with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins to train them to use the Apollo command module's systems. He stuck around for five more landings after Apollo 11, helping 33 astronauts go into space and return safely back home.
You can catch Hagar lending his expertise during lectures at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on both Saturday, Jan. 11 and Sunday, Jan. 12. Gallery talks and the lectures are included with admission to Destination Moon, which is open through Feb. 17. Cincinnati is the traveling Smithsonian exhibition's fifth and final stop on its nationwide tour. (It was organized by SITES and the National Air and Space Museum, the latter of which has housed the Apollo 11 command module since 1976.)
The exhibit includes 20 original Apollo 11-flown objects, models and videos that will guide guests through Armstrong's, Collin's and Aldrin's journey to the moon. Beyond the famous trio, it sheds light on the team of over 400,000 NASA workers that participated in the 20 missions from 1961 to 1969 that preceded the successful landing.
Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, is an Ohioan native. After the mission, he taught at the University of Cincinnati in the department of aerospace engineering and lived in Indian Hil until his death in 2012.
"Destination Moon is taking these incredible artifacts from 50 years ago to today and making them accessible, putting them on the road, if you will, and allowing them to have greater reach, inspire more kids and just to have a bigger impact than it would just being in Washington," Armstrong's son, Mark, said at a press conference for the CMC opening last June. "That's an amazing thing."
For more info/tickets, visit cincymuseum.org.