Edgar Mitchell, the American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, NASA astronaut, and the sixth human to walk on the Moon, died on February 4, 2016, aged 85.

Edgar Mitchell
Edgar Mitchell (September 17, 1930 – February 4, 2016)

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced that: “We’re saddened by the loss of astronaut Edgar Mitchell. He served as a lunar module pilot on Apollo 14 and was one of twelve American astronauts to walk on the moon. We salute his life and work, pushing the boundaries of exploration”.

Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell on the Moon
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. Photo: NASA

Mitchell was selected to be an astronaut in 1966 and was seconded from the Navy to NASA. He was designated as backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 10, and served as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 14, landing Antares (the Lunar Module) in the hilly upland Fra Mauro Highlands region.

For two days, February 5 and 6, 1971, Mitchell and Alan Shepard deployed and activated scientific equipment and experiments on the lunar surface. They collected almost 100 pounds of lunar samples for return to Earth.

Other Apollo 14 achievements include:

  • The first use of Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET)
  • The largest payload placed in lunar orbit
  • The longest distance traversed on foot on the lunar surface
  • The largest payload returned from the lunar surface
  • The longest lunar surface stay time (33 hours)
  • The longest lunar surface EVA (9 hours and 23 minutes)
  • The first use of shortened lunar orbit rendezvous techniques
  • The first use of color TV with new vidicon tube
  • The first extensive orbital science period was conducted during CSM solo operations.

Mitchell became the sixth person to walk on the Moon. As the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro Highlands region.

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.” –Edgar Mitchell

Earthrise from Moon & Edgar Mitchell quote
Earthrise photo: NASA
Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo Moonwalker Dies at 85 (silent video)
Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell (USN Capt. Ret.), who became the sixth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission to the highlands of Fra Mauro, died on February 4 in West Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 85. Mitchell’s death occurred on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his landing on the moon aboard the lunar module Antares with Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard. Mitchell was born in Hereford, Texas on Sept. 17, 1930, and earned multiple degrees including a Doctorate of Science in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964.
Mitchell entered the Navy in 1952 and was selected by NASA as an astronaut in April 1966. He was the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 14 mission, his only spaceflight, joining Shepard and command module pilot Stuart Roosa. On February 5, 1971, Mitchell and Shepard guided Antares to a bulls-eye landing at Fra Mauro, where they spent 33 hours and conducted two moonwalks to collect almost 100 pounds of moon rocks and invaluable lunar soil samples. Following the Apollo program, Mitchell retired from NASA and from the Navy to conduct scientific research in the field of human consciousness.


M. Özgür Nevres
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