March 25, 1928 |
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Time in space
|29d 19h 03m|
|Selection||1962 NASA Group|
|Missions||Gemini 7, Gemini 12,
Apollo 8, Apollo 13
Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.
I could put my thumb up to a window and completely hide the Earth. I thought, 'Everything I've ever known is behind my thumb.'
The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at Earth from the moon, and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything you've ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy.
I would suspect strongly that over a period of time, if we put our mind to going to Mars, it will be a consortium of several countries.
Mars is a long ways away. The moon is only 240,000 miles, but Mars is in the millions. It's too risky without spending more time going to the moon.
I didn't go into the NASA program to pick up rocks or to go the moon or anything else. I went in there because I was a military officer, and that was the next notch in my profession.
There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.
I was born a year after Lindbergh made his historic trip across the Atlantic. Boys like either dinosaurs or airplanes. I was very much an airplane boy.
The moon is essentially gray, no color; looks like plaster of Paris or sort of a grayish beach sand.
After six successful Apollo flights, including two lunar landings, people were getting bored.
My view is that we should go back to the moon, build up the infrastructure to make flights there commonplace – be comfortable with it – then use that infrastructure to expand and go to Mars.
The fascination to go into space has existed for hundreds of years. But as we do things and they're successful, people get bored.
I was only a hero by default. The flights were few and far between. There weren't that many astronauts. The moon flights were so interesting and exciting.
We got to the moon on Christmas Eve 1968, at the end of a poor year for this country. We had Vietnam. We had civil unrest. We had the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. But we went around the moon and saw the far side for the first time. A script writer couldn't have done a better job of raising people's hope.
We didn't slow down, unlike the others, when we got to the moon because we needed its gravity to get back, so we hold the altitude record. I never even thought about it. Records are only made to be broken.
I was a naval officer and aviator. I tested airplanes and got selected to be an astronaut later on.
For some time, I thought Apollo 13 was a failure. I was disappointed I didn't get to land on the moon. But actually, it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.
From now on we live in a world where man has walked on the Moon. It's not a miracle; we just decided to go.
People say, 'Did you violate Heaven?' Well, God is down here, too. If you believe in God, you believe in God here as well as 240,000 miles away.
In space-flight terms, six landings on the moon back in the Sixties and Seventies doesn't mean much.
If you're going to go into space, you have to have an objective, a mission. Where do you want to go? Earth orbit? The moon? Mars? What's the technology to get there? You develop the technology for the mission.