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  Date: 6/20
  Networking: 5:30 - 6:00   
  Program: 6:00 - 7:00 pm
  2 Locations


ISS Meeting Building
1800 Space Park Drive
Nassau Bay, TX

Room C-100 Concourse Level
4 Greenway Plaza
Houston TX 77046

TGCC Chapter Program June 2019

Legacy of Apollo

For our chapter meeting, our presentation will have two featured speakers, Dr. Dean Eppler and Dr. Wendell Mendell. They will be presenting on the legacy of Apollo.

When President Kennedy issued the mandate to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth, NASA’s response was constrained by a significant number of unknowns, including the development of the Saturn V, the development of the orbital spacecraft, the development of the Lunar Module (LM), and a lack of understanding of the nature of the lunar surface that persisted until 1964 with the (finally) successful flight of Ranger 6.  In the aftermath of the science planning conference at Woods Hole and Falmouth, MA in the summer of 1965, the science community and NASA devised a comprehensive science program that was successfully implemented on both the human landings, and with additional orbital spacecraft like Lunar Orbiter I to V.  By the end of the program, scientific investigations dominated mission design and operations.  As a result, the scientific legacy of Apollo is as rich and valuable as the epic impact of human exploration of the solar system.

  1. Dr. Dean Eppler is a retired NASA Senior Scientist and manager with over forty years experience in geology and human and robotic space operations.
  2. Dr. Wendell Mendell is a Planetary Scientist who retired from NASA at the end of 2013 after 50 years of service.

Dean Bener Eppler

Dr. Eppler is a retired NASA Senior Scientist and manager with over forty years experience in geology and human and robotic space operations. He retired from Johnson Space Centers Astromaterials Research and Exploration Sciences Division, where he was responsible for integrating exploration mission operations, plans and goals into requirements for future surface systems, science and operations approach development.  In addition, he was responsible for the team developing field geologic training for the Astronaut Corps, as well as initiating a program to take NASA engineers and managers into the field to conduct basic geologic mapping exercises to learn what science tasks will drive future planetary exploration. 

Dr. Eppler received his undergraduate education in geology at St. Lawrence University, receiving a Bachelors of Science degree in 1974.  He went on to complete his Masters of Science degree at the University of New Mexico in 1976 and his Ph.D. in geology from Arizona State University in 1984.

Throughout his career, Dr. Eppler concentrated on science and engineering integration, particularly for advanced Extravehicular Activity (EVA) system hardware, by developing space suit pressure garment system mobility requirements and tools for advanced planetary surface EVA. In addition, he supported testing advanced pressure garment concepts and developing suited subject performance data sets for advanced planetary geologic EVAs on the Moon and Mars as the lead test-subject for advanced pressure garment development and testing. Dr. Eppler was also a Discipline Integrator for Earth Science payloads while working for SAIC in NASA’s International Space Station Payloads Office, where he was responsible for payload planning, integration and interface between the user community and the International Space Station Program Office, and for developing the Earth observations program on Space Station. While in the ISS Payloads Office, he led the development of the upgrades to the U.S. Laboratory nadir pointing scientific window, and came up with the initial concept for the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), a major facility class payload currently flying on the ISS.  As part of the WORF development, Dr. Eppler led the ISS team that designed, built and prepared the rack for launch to the ISS.  Dr. Eppler was also a key scientist helping plan and execute science operations for the Desert RATS series of analog tests run in Flagstaff, AZ by NASA between 1996 and 2011.

In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Eppler served as a Combat Engineering Officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1976 to 1980.  He is also a commercial pilot and flight instructor.  Lastly, he was selected by NASA as a Mission Specialist Astronaut Candidate finalist for the 1990, 1996 and 1998 astronaut selections.

Throughout his career, Dr. Eppler has worked on:

  1. The relationship between conduct of geologic field science investigations and operations planning for advanced scientific exploration
  2. Researching science and mission operations questions relating manned planetary exploration
  3. Developing geologic training programs for NASAs Astronaut Corps and NASA engineers and managers in preparation for human exploration of the Moon and planets
  4. Understanding the requirements for scientific payloads on future manned flights to the Moon, Mars and near-Earth asteroids,
  5. Writing and managing science requirements for manned and robotic missions to the Moon and Mars
  6. Integrating science mission requirements into extravehicular activity suit design, including field testing of prototype pressure garments as a geologist suit-subject
  7. Program planning and developing requirements for advanced EVA technology development
  8. Developing and planning relevant analog tests for advanced human planetary exploration and operations
  9. Developing Earth observations capabilities on orbiting platforms for both human crews and robotic payloads
  10. Understanding the historical development of the Apollo Program, particularly how it relates to science operations decision making and requirements development
  11. Logistical requirements for remote terrestrial field science operations, including operations in Central America, Antarctica and the high Arctic


  • Army Commendation Medal
  • NASA Medal for Exceptional Public Service
  • Antarctic Service Medal
  • NASA Astronaut Corp Award for Human Spaceflight Achievement (the “Silver Snoopy”)
  • St. Lawrence University Geology Department William T. Elberty Medal
  • St. Lawrence University Alumni Citation

Wendell W. Mendell, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendell Mendell is a Planetary Scientist who retired from NASA at the end of 2013 after 50 years of service.  He is married and has four children. Dr. Mendell has a B.S. in physics from CalTech; a M.S. in physics from UCLA; and a M.S. in Space Science and a Ph.D. in Space Physics and Astronomy from Rice University. 

At the Johnson Space Center, he most recently served as Assistant Director for Exploration in the Directorate for Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES). He also held the position of Chief of the Office of Lunar and Planetary Exploration within the Constellation Program. In that position, he acted as a liaison between the scientific community and the Constellation Program, responsible for implementing the Presidential Vision for Space Exploration. Earlier, he served as Chief of the Office of Human Exploration Science within ARES and Deputy Division Chief for the Solar System Exploration Division.

His scientific research focus was remote sensing of planetary surfaces, specializing in thermal emission radiometry and spectroscopy of the Moon. He was Co-Investigator on the Infrared Scanning Radiometer (ISR) instrument that was flown in lunar orbit on the Apollo 17 CSM. He was presented with an award from NASA for that work at the10th Anniversary celebrations of the Apollo Program. He has been editor for nine technical volumes and has published over 40 articles in professional journals and conference proceedings. He is also author of numerous abstracts and short papers presented at technical conferences.

Beginning in 1982, his activities in NASA focused on planning and advocacy of human exploration of the solar system, especially on the establishment of a permanent human base on the Moon. His interests lay as much with policy issues as with technical solutions. He is most well known as the editor of the volume, Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century; and he received the 1988 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering from the National Space Society for this work.

Dr. Mendell is an Emeritus Faculty of the International Space University, an appointment honoring his work teaching during the first decade of that organization. At the ISU, he led Design Projects for an International Lunar Base (1988), International Mars Mission (1991), International Lunar Farside Observatory and Science Station (1993), Vision 20/20 [a sampling of the future as seen by young space professionals] (1995), and Space Tourism: From Dream to Reality (2000). He lectured during the summer sessions of 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2014.

He belongs to several professional scientific and engineering societies. He has been elected to the International Academy of Astronautics, where he has served on Academic Commissions and IAA Cosmic Studies. He has delivered numerous papers at the International Astronautical Congresses and has organized technical sessions therein. In the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) he is an Associate Fellow and has chaired the Space Science and Astronomy Technical Committee and sits on the International Activities Committee, both at the national level. He has delivered papers and organized technical sessions at AIAA conferences. He served on (and chaired) the Executive Committee of the Aerospace Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He also belongs to the American Physical society and is a life member of the American Geophysical Union.