Saturday, February 6, 2016


Another good man has stepped into the clearing at the end of the path. He was one of a tiny handful of men who rode ships to another world and returned to talk about it. I can't do better than NASA on his accomplishments there and elsewhere so, NASA on Astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 lunar module pilot stands by the deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface during the early moments of the mission's first spacewalk. He was photographed by astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr., mission commander. While astronauts Shepard and Mitchell descended in the Lunar Module "Antares" to explore the Fra Mauro region of the moon, astronaut Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Module "Kitty Hawk" in lunar orbit.
Credits: NASA
And some more from NASA.

Edgar Dean Mitchell (Captain, USN, Ret.)
     (Astronaut, NASA, Ret.)
Born September 17, 1930, in Hereford, Texas, but considers Artesia, New Mexico, his hometown. Resided in Palm Beach County, Florida since 1975. Divorced. Four daughters: Karlyn Mitchell, Ph.D Elizabeth Kendall, Kimberly Mitchell, Mary Beth Johnson. Two sons: Paul Mitchell, Adam Mitchell. Nine grandchildren. 
Honors and Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom. USN Distinguished Service Medal. NASA Distinguished Service Medal. NASA Distinguished Service Award. Three NASA Group Achievement Awards. USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, First in Class Award. Medal of the City of New York. American Astronautical Society, Flight Achievement Award. Arnold Air Society, John F. Kennedy Award for Space Exploration. Carnegie Mellon University Alumni, Outstanding Man of the Year (1972). Kappa Sigma, Man of the Year Award (1972). Adventurers Club, Gold Medal Award for Exploration. Explorers Club, Lowell Thomas Award for Explorations in Human Consciousness (1980). Drexel University, Engineering and Science Award for Explorations in Consciousness (1974). Space Hall of Fame (inducted 1979). Astronaut Hall of Fame (inducted 1995). Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize (2005). 
Captain Mitchell's experience includes Navy operational flight, test flight, engineering and engineering management, and experience as a college instructor. Mitchell came to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston after graduating first in his class from the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School where he was both student and instructor. 
He entered the Navy in 1952 and completed his basic training at the San Diego Recruit Depot. In May 1953, after completing instruction at the Officers Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island, he was commissioned as an Ensign. He completed flight training in July 1954 at Hutchinson, Kansas, and subsequently was assigned to Patrol Squadron 29 deployed to Okinawa. 
From 1957 to 1958, he flew A3 aircraft while assigned to Heavy Attack Squadron Two deployed aboard the USS BON HOMME RICHARD and USS TICONGEROGA; and he was a research project pilot with Air Development Squadron Five until 1959. From 1964 to 1965 he served as Chief, Project Management Division of the Navy Field Office for Manned Orbiting Laboratory. 1965-1966 was spent at the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School in preparation for astronaut duties, and certification as test pilot. Mitchell served as an instructor in advanced mathematics and navigation theory for astronaut candidates.
With NASA, Captain Mitchell was a member of Group 5, selected for astronaut training in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9 and as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 10. 
On January 31, 1971, serving as lunar module pilot, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, then a U.S. Navy Captain, embarked on a journey through outer space of some 500,000 miles that resulted in becoming the sixth man to walk on the moon. That historic journey terminated safely nine days later on February 9, 1971 and was made in the company of two other men of valor Admiral Alan Shepard and Colonel Stuart Roosa. 
Maneuvering their lunar module, Antares, to a landing in the hilly upland Fra Mauro region of the moon, Shepard and Mitchell subsequently deployed and activated various scientific equipment and experiments and collected almost 100 pounds of lunar samples for return to Earth. Other Apollo 14 achievements included: first use of Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET); largest payload placed in lunar orbit; longest distance traversed on the lunar surface; largest payload returned from the lunar surface; longest lunar surface stay time (33 hours); longest lunar surface EVA (9 hours and 17 minutes); first use of shortened lunar orbit rendezvous techniques; first use of color TV with new vidicon tube on lunar surface; and first extensive orbital science period conducted during CSM solo operations. 
In completing his first and only space flight, Captain Mitchell logged a total of 216 hours and 42 minutes in space. He was subsequently designated to serve as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 16. In 1972, Captain Mitchell retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy.
Dr. Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973, one year after retiring from government service. It is a foundation organized to sponsor research into the nature of consciousness. He is also co-founder of the Association of Space Explorers, an international organization founded in 1984 for all who share the experience of space travel. Both are educational organizations developed to provide new understanding of the human condition resulting from the epoch of space exploration. 
Dr. Mitchell is author of Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1974, a major reference book; and The Way of the Explorer Putnam 1996. He is also author and/or interviewee in dozens of articles in both professional and popular periodicals. 
As a lecturer, Dr. Mitchell delivered 25 to 50 addresses annually on cosmology, human potential and topics relating to the evolving future of the species on planet Earth. His last lecture series discussed the implications of recent discoveries in science as they affect our individual lives in the home, the workplace and society-at-large. He was a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows and has been featured in several documentary films relative to his interests.
As I read here and there through the tubes tonight to learn more about the man, I found that he was one of almost all the astronauts who brought back souvenirs from the moon or from space. He had the somewhat surreal experience of being sued by NASA and the Federal Government for keeping a camera that he had been told to leave behind and let crash into the moon inside the lunar module when it de-orbited and crashed after they started the return to Earth. Yep, NASA, who destroyed or lost all the mission tapes of the first moon landing, wanted/needed/pined for a 40 year old camera.

Reading the story about the camera I was struck by an interesting parallel. What if, 40 years after a man had boarded a lifeboat from off his sinking ship, maneuvered it around to pick up other distressed seamen and then sailed it 3000 miles to the nearest land, the shipping company that owned the sunken ship came after him in court for "stealing" the sextant from that lifeboat?

An interesting man. Hail fellow and farewell.

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