History of Innovation
Flagstaff has been known as a town of discovery and innovation for more than 100 years. Here scientists have made discoveries in astronomy, medicine, biosciences and renewable energy. As early as 1894, Percival Lowell located his observatory in Flagstaff, and from the time Pluto was discovered there in 1930, Lowell Observatory continues to be an active research facility while also providing visitors the opportunity to view and learn about our expanding universe.
In the early 1960s, Flagstaff played a large role in preparing the Apollo astronauts for their missions to the moon. The U.S. Geological Survey Branch of Astrogeology was established in Flagstaff due to the surrounding number of natural geological landmarks that resembled the surface of the moon. Field training for the astronauts took place at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Meteor Crater, Grand Canyon National Park and other areas in the region. The USGS Branch of Astrogeology continues to be a part of NASA’s exploration of space.
While Flagstaff’s past is rich with scientific discovery, emerging research and development companies call the city home, adding to its strong scientific community. Flagstaff’s role in the lunar missions is described in the brochure “Flagstaff and the History of the Apollo Missions,” available at the Visitor Center, located in the historic downtown train station, or for download here.