by Art Levy
Updated 4 yearss ago
Watch a video where Mitchell talks about his extraterrestrial experiences and see him in action on the moon:
[Videographer: Jeffrey Camp | Narrator: Art Levy | Editor: Matt Nelson]
? » I was coming back to shore duty on Oct. 4, 1957, when Sputnik went up. I realized humans would be right behind robot spacecraft going into space — and that sounded like that would be an interesting thing to do, the new frontier. That was my motivation.
» I was on test pilot duty at Edwards Air Force Base when I had applied for and was selected into the Apollo program in 1966. In the group I was in, there were 19 others selected and what I was told there were 19,000 applicants.
» From the moment we stepped out of the lunar module door, we were behind schedule and got further behind schedule every second. There’s that momentary thrill and then it’s ‘get back to work’ because you’re running behind. Houston was whispering in our ears, ‘OK, now you’re four minutes behind.’ A couple of minutes later, ‘Now you’re six minutes behind.’ That was going on continuously.
Edgar Mitchell [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
» The main thing, of course, that we were concerned about was don’t fall on your back like a turtle with your feet in the air because you’d have to have the other guy come help you out. Or don’t puncture your suit and blow your air out because that’s your death.
» Young kids ask, ‘OK, what’s it like to walk on the moon?’ and I say, particularly to those who live in northern climates, ‘It’s like mom lets you go out and play in a snowsuit, but you have two snowsuits on and you’re walking on a trampoline.’
» There was very little levity and very little horseplay. Oh, there were some smart-ass remarks, not on the radio, but on the intercom, jabbing each other about this, that or the other like, ‘Don’t fall in that hole.’ Stuff like that.
» If you know any astronomy at all and the history of star systems and so forth, you know that our star system is going to burn out here in a couple billion years. It’s about halfway through its life cycle, so we’ve got to be out of here. If our species is to survive, we have to become a universal species. We have to be a part of the universe, not part of the solar system. So we better get on with it.
» We have major problems in science at this point because of the clash between general relativity and quantum mechanics. One is the science of the very, very small and Einstein’s general relativity, the science of the very, very large, and they don’t come together well. And we’re going to have to solve that problem before we really can go off into the solar system and outside of it. I say that because we now know we have been visited. We’re not alone in the universe, and it is clear from our visitors that their propulsion systems, the science and technology that they use, is far beyond ours. And they couldn’t be coming here if they were limited by the general relativity issues that we think we’re limited by.
» If indeed the aliens have the technology that we’re talking about to get here and we don’t, that would be pretty nice technology to have. You can kind of control the world if you have that technology.
» My major chores were completed. I could be practically a tourist on the way home from the moon. We were flying sideways and rotating. What that caused to happen of course is every two minutes the picture of the earth, the moon, the sun and a 360-degree panorama of the heavens appeared in the cockpit window. And that’s pretty wow.
» From my training during my doctoral work in astronomy at Harvard and MIT, I knew that star systems are the furnaces that create matter in our universe. All the molecules of our body and our environment and our planet are created in star systems. And I suddenly realized that the molecules of my body, the molecules of the body of the spacecraft and the molecules in my partners’ bodies, were created in stars, and that was a wild experience. It was a visceral experience. I felt it. My molecules and those star systems are one. This was accompanied by an ecstasy that was just overwhelming. And when I wasn’t working and having to watch the gauges or do something to the spacecraft, I’d look out the window and this experience repeated itself, this wow, this feeling of ecstasy and connectedness. And I realized that our story of ourselves as told by science, scientific cosmology, was archaic and likely flawed.
» What more could an explorer want than to go where humans have never been before, gather data, take pictures, come back and tell the story?
» I think the fact that I’m one of 12 people who walked on the moon, yeah that’s history. I would like to think that the work I’ve done in science will be as important, if not more important, than simply going to the moon.
» When John Glenn went back into space at the age of 77, people started asking me, ‘Edgar, don’t you want to go back into space?’ Well, my smart-ass remark was, ‘Sure, but I’m going to wait until I’m 100 and beat John’s record.’ I had dinner with John at Cape Kennedy last year and told him the story. It kind of got out in the public and it’s coming back to haunt me and I guess I may have to go do it. I guess I’m kind of under the gun to stay healthy and go back into space.
Mitchell on the moon: Feb. 5, 1971 [Photo: NASA]