Q: Astronaut Ron Evans graduated from Highland Park High School in Topeka and from the University of Kansas. As command module pilot for Apollo 17, he was part of the last manned-mission to the Moon. During that trip in 1972, Evans got to walk outside the spaceship for about an hour. What phrase did he utter as he first stepped into outer space?
A: "Hot Diggity Dog!"
Today, "Hot Diggity Dog" is a rarely-heard and largely forgotten catch phrase. But it was still "A-Okay" to say it back in 1972, during America's last manned mission to the Moon. Kansas-born astronaut Ron Evans uttered the phrase when he first stepped into space. He was part of the three-man Apollo 17 mission. Evans piloted the command module that orbited the Moon, while his fellow astronauts, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, descended to the lunar surface.
On the way back to Earth, Evans completed a one-hour and six-minute EVA, or extravehicular activity. It was during the EVA that Evans first stepped outside the spaceship and exclaimed, "Hot Diggity Dog." That phrase may not be as famous as astronaut Neil Armstrong's "One small step for man" quote, but dadgummit - it's still pretty cool.
Evans, who was born in St. Francis, in far northwest Kansas, holds the record for most time spent in lunar orbit: six days and four hours. The retired Navy captain and astronaut died in Arizona in 1990. Evans is one of three NASA astronauts from Kansas. The other two America space heroes are Joe Engle and Steve Hawley.
Fun Factoid: One of the first, non-communist monkeys to fly successfully in space and safely return to Earth also came from Kansas. Able, a rhesus monkey, was born at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo, on Monkey Island, in Independence, Kansas, and later became a NASA astronaut (so to speak). On May 28, 1959, aboard the JUPITER AM-18 rocket, Able and a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker, flew a successful mission.
After splashdown in the Caribbean Sea, the two monkeys were picked up by the U.S.S. Kiowa, which is named after the Native American tribe that inhabited (you guessed it) Kansas. One of the great sub-chiefs of the Kiowa Tribe was Satanta, a fierce warrior who grew up in Kansas and became known as the "Orator of the Plains." The town of Satanta, in southwest Kansas, is named in his honor. So, you see... it all comes back to Kansas one way or another.
Today's Kansas Trivia Question is brought to you by Yello Sub in Lawrence.