Dr. Richard Lesher

Dr. Richard Lesher, NASA's former assistant administrator for technology utilization, will discuss the values of NASA during the moon race of the 1960s.

Image: Debra Collins

Former NASA administrator to honor 50th anniversary of Apollo moon mission

Penn State Mont Alto Evening Talk highlights values of NASA during 1960s moon race

MONT ALTO, Pa.― In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon missions, Richard L. Lesher will present a Penn State Mont Alto Evening Talk about his personal experience while working for NASA. His talk, titled “Values of NASA during the Moon Race of the 1960s,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 in the General Studies Auditorium on the Mont Alto campus. It is open to the public and free of charge.

Weather permitting, a Star Party will follow, led by Kimberly Herrmann, Penn State Mont Alto assistant professor in astronomy and physics.

Lesher, who is the former first president of the National Center for Resource Recovery and who served as president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from 1975 to 1997, will share his experience as NASA’s assistant administrator for technology utilization from 1964 to 1969. Lesher will discuss NASA and its personnel during the moon race, programs he oversaw to accelerate the transfer of NASA technology to other applications, and the value of NASA's impact on America and the world.

Although Lesher was born in Doylesburg, he grew up during the Great Depression in Chambersburg. His father was a construction worker, and his mother did factory work. In high school, he worked 25 hours a week while still playing football and basketball.

After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Lesher entered the University of Pittsburgh on the GI Bill, where he worked his way through college as a production coordinator at a Westinghouse plant and earned his degree in less than three years. Lesher then added advanced degrees from Penn State and Indiana University.

Lesher joined NASA and eventually rose to become assistant administrator for technology utilization, helping to put the first men on the moon. After five years in NASA’s top management, he left to become the first president of the National Center for Resource Recovery, a company that worked to solve environmental problems.

Lesher is the recipient of the 1980 Horatio Alger Award, which symbolizes the Horatio Alger Association’s values that include personal initiative and perseverance; leadership and commitment to excellence; belief in the free-enterprise system; and the importance of higher education, community service, and the vision and determination to achieve a better future.

Following Lesher’s talk, Herrmann will lead a Star Party from 8:45 to 10 p.m., weather permitting. Telescope viewing and night sky tours with green laser pointers will be part of the Star Party activities. Multiple telescopes should be available, courtesy of the TriState Astronomers, a local amateur astronomy club. Precipitation or cloud cover may require the star party to be canceled.

Those interested in astronomy also can attend Penn State Mont Alto Planetarium Shows this fall from 7 to 8 p.m. on select Thursdays and Fridays (Oct. 10 and 11, and Nov. 14 and 15).

For more information about the Evening Talk and Star Party Series, contact Debra Collins, director of public relations and marketing, at 717-749-6112 or dlc43@psu.edu.