Edgar Mitchell, an Apollo astronaut and one of the first men to walk on the moon, died Thursday (Feb. 4) after a short illness.
Coincidentally, Mitchell died one day before the 45th anniversary of his moon landing alongside crewmate Alan Shepard. The two astronauts landed in the mountainous Fra Mauro region of the moon, where Mitchell became the sixth human to walk on the moon’s surface.
Serving as lunar module pilot for Apollo 14, Mitchell and Shepard spent 33 hours and 31 minutes on the surface, carrying out two moonwalks and collecting nearly 100 pounds of rock and soil samples for Earth analysis. Mitchell gained notoriety for experimenting with extra-sensory perception on his return flight — a lifelong pursuit, he later founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences “to support consciousness research and promote awareness of evolving human consciousness, ” his family says in a statement.
“As a member of the Apollo 14 crew, Edgar is one of only 12 men to walk on the moon and he helped to change how we view our place in the universe, ” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says of Mitchell in a statement.
He adds: “Edgar spoke poetically about seeing our home planet from the moon saying: ‘Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth … home.'”