A stroll or a ride

Tony England had always wanted a mission to the Moon. As a geophysicist, and a co-investigator on one of the Apollo lunar experiments that flew on Apollo 17, he knew it was still "a bit of a reach,'' but not totally impossible until the programme was cut. He would have been assigned as back-up Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 16, but when 18, 19 and 20 were cancelled, NASA decided to save money in training new astronauts for dead-end assignments and began recycling flown Apollo veterans to fill in back-up roles. Ed Mitchell was told before Apollo 14 flew that he would have to back up Apollo 16 before he was allowed to retire, bumping England to the support crew as mission scientist. In one of his many technical assignments prior to the cancellations, England was tasked with evaluating the landing sites in the Marius Hills region (for either Apollo 16 or 17) where, due to the proximity of primary geological sampling sites, it would be better to have walking traverses as opposed to lunar rover traverses. There were other things to consider as well, such as extra science equipment, difficulties with the landing site consumables, or even a flying vehicle, but it was not so much a defined decision as a chance to allow others in the planning groups to understand the trade-offs in using the LRV. Due to the limitations imposed by being on the Moon for only three days, England's role on Apollo 13 and 16 (as with all the mission scientists) was to optimise the science, working out the best options to maximise the returns with what they had.7

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