|The Award made to Apollo 15 Lunar Module Pilot James B. Irwin includes a Moon rock gathered during the Apollo program and is now on exhibition|
|On Wednesday, Aug. 4, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature unveiled its newest exhibit: The NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award presented to James B. Irwin (pictured at right), who drove a lunar rover on the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission. |
The NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award celebrates the realization of a vision for exploration first articulated by President John F. Kennedy in May 1961, when NASA’s fledgling human space flight program had little more than 15 minutes of experience. It was given to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts in recognition of their sacrifices and dedication. Each award includes a lunar sample, part of the 842 pounds of Moon rocks and soil returned during the six lunar expeditions that took place from 1969 to 1972.
|“We are incredibly grateful and honored that the family of Col. Irwin specifically chose The Bishop to display this significant piece of history,” said Matthew D. Woodside, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at The Bishop. “The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission started July 26 and lasts through August 7, so receiving it now makes it even more profound. |
“This year, we’ve all been following the journey of Mars Rover Perseverance as it traverses the Red Planet and is beginning the process of collecting Martian samples. Exploring Mars today would not be possible if it weren’t for previous expeditions led by pioneers like Jim Irwin, who landed the Apollo 15 lunar module on the Moon and then traversed it with the lunar rover.”
|Members of the Irwin family chose The Bishop to house the NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award given to Astronaut James Irwin. In this photo taken Saturday, July 31, 2021, the family showcases the new exhibit at the Museum: Daughters Jan Irwin Ewing and Joy Irwin Schtakleff, widow Mary Irwin, and daughter Jill Irwin Christensen. (Not pictured: sons James and Joe Irwin.)|
|Members of the Irwin family, who live in Bradenton/Sarasota area, chose The Bishop to display the award. “The Bishop continues to expand their vision and programs for the next generation. Our family believes that the location of the Apollo 15 Moon rock will encourage the wonder of the past adventures into space with the new horizons left to explore,” said daughter Joy Irwin Schtakleff. “As our late husband and father, Astronaut Col. James B. Irwin, would repeatedly tell the next generation as he shared his story: ‘Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of His knowledge, so aim high.’ We hope the Moon rock display will encourage all to aim high.”|
|James B. Irwin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a colonel commissioned in the Air Force upon graduation from the Naval Academy in 1951. He received his flight training at Hondo Air Base and Reese Air Force Base, Texas. He became a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, was an aeronautical engineer and became one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in 1966. |
As an astronaut, Irwin logged 295 hours and 11 minutes in space. He resigned from the Air Force in 1972 to found High Flight Foundation, an interdenominational evangelical organization based in Colorado Springs.
When he was 12, he told his mother he wanted to go to the Moon and perhaps even be the first to walk on it. Turned out, he was the eighth astronaut to walk on the Moon.
Irwin married Mary Ellen Monroe and had five children: Joy, Jill, James, Jan and Joe. He died in 1991 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Irwin’s family and the other Gemini, Mercury and Apollo astronauts were given the NASA Ambassador Awards in 2004. While the awards remain the property of NASA, astronauts and their families were given permission to select a museum or other educational institution where their awards could be publicly displayed in their names to help inspire a new generation of explorers.
|As the largest natural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature (formerly South Florida Museum) offers fun and engaging exhibitions and programs that interpret the scientific knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. In addition to permanent exhibitions, The Bishop features a constantly changing lineup of special exhibitions — offering something new to discover with each visit.|
The Bishop includes an all-digital Planetarium — the only one of its kind on Florida’s Gulf Coast — the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, where we help rehabilitate sick or injured manatees for their return to the wild, and the Mosaic Backyard Universe, built especially for young children and their families.
Our Mission: To inspire the joy of discovery and wonder for all ages through excellence in stewardship and engagement.
Visit www.BishopScience.org for hours, info and admission details or call 941-746-4131.
|Adults 18-64: $23.95 | Seniors (65+): $21.95 | Youth (12-17) and College Students (with ID): $17.95 | Children (5-11): $14.95 | Children age 2-4: $8.95 | Children younger than age 2 admitted free with paying adult.|
Free Admission for Discovery SocietyMembers | Florida Teachers and Active Duty military (with ID) | Museums for All participants