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Interviews With Edgar Mitchell

From: Bill Hamilton <skyman22.nul>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 07:17:43 -0800
Fwd Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 16:18:40 -0500
Subject: Interviews With Edgar Mitchell

Source: The Palm Beach Post


Palm Beach Post Interviews Ex-Astronaut Dr Edgar Mitchell

Mitchell Weighs In On Various Controversial Matters

Ex-Astronaut's Curiosity Continues -
By Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post
Sunday, February 8, 2004

Somewhere in deep space, Ed Mitchell experienced a cosmic
awakening that changed his life.

"I got to look out the window a lot," he recalled about his
return trip from the moon 33 years ago this week. "I had a
powerful insight looking at the heavens. Suddenly, it became
damn personal."

Since then, he has founded an institute to study the
unexplained, has written two books and keeps busy on the lecture
circuit. He asserts that very many people are like him:
questioning, challenging, keeping an open mind about the
unexplained.  This is fact about Edgar Dean Mitchell. He has a
doctorate. He served 20 years in the Navy. He helped rescue the
crippled Apollo 13 in 1970. And on Feb. 5, 1971, he became the
sixth man to walk on the moon.

While many of his fellow 1960s "right stuff" astronauts lead
quiet, sometimes reclusive lives, Mitchell, 73, stays in the
public eye. But he fiercely protects his home life on a spread
hidden among the nurseries west of Lantana, scattered with pine
trees and boasting its own corral and pond. Developers have come
knocking, but he's not interested.

His sprawling ranch house is cluttered with books, sculptures
and paintings, as well as photos, plaques and memorabilia of his
NASA career. Also on one wall: A Kurdish tapestry he bought in
Turkey in 1982 while on a scientific mission to find documents
and artifacts of the Nestorians, an ancient Christian sect. It
symbolizes his life: always searching.

Ed Mitchell was on a Navy ship in the Pacific Ocean in 1957 when
the Soviets shocked the world by flinging Sputnik into space,
beating the Americans and starting the space race. He decided
then, at age 27, that he wanted to be a part of the fledgling
U.S. space program.

"I knew at that point that humans wouldn't be far behind," he
said. "My motivation was like the bear that went over the
mountain: to see what he could see."

Born in the Depression era in west Texas, he grew up on a ranch
in Artesia, N.M. As he walked to school in nearby Roswell, he
sometimes saw Robert Goddard, the godfather of modern rocketry,
launching rockets into the sky. Around the time Mitchell was a
senior in high school, Roswell became a household word as the
site of an alleged crash of an alien spacecraft.

He started flying at age 13 and got his pilot's license at 16.
After college, he enlisted in the Navy and flew combat missions
in Korea. He earned two undergraduate degrees as well as a
Doctorate from MIT; his thesis described a mission to Mars.

Mitchell joined the astronaut corps in 1966. A year later, three
of his colleagues were vaporized in a fire on the launch pad
aboard Apollo 1. "It was a risky business and we knew it," he
said. Then he stops. His voice grows thick. "You can't lose your
friends and not be affected."

The space program continued and Mitchell eventually specialized
in the lunar module. He was set for the ill-fated Apollo 13
mission, but crewmate Alan Shepherd, who'd been sidelined by
inner-ear balance problems, needed more training. So his team -
 the third was command module pilot Stuart Roosa - was
rescheduled for Apollo 14.

As in the dark days after the Columbia and Challenger shuttle
disasters, missions were delayed more than a year by the Apollo
13 crisis. Mitchell said his Apollo 14 crew knew that if that
mission was anything less than a spectacular success, NASA would
have difficulty restoring public and government confidence in
the space program. By the time Apollo 14 finally went up,
budget cuts already had scrapped missions 18, 19 and 20, and
everyone at NASA knew Apollo 17 would be the last - which it

Despite the years of preparation and anticipation, Mitchell
said, "You suppress your exhilaration and emotion and go do
the... job," he said.

A Revelation In Space
Mitchell and Alan Shepard spent 33 1/2 hours on the moon.
Shepherd hit the famous golf shot. Mitchell threw a javelin,
which got less press.

His crewmates and NASA superiors didn't know that Mitchell had
made secret arrangements to conduct space experiments on
extrasensory perception, the ability to send and receive
thoughts. "I was well aware as far as science was concerned this
was not mainstream," he said.

Four times on the flight, he focused on sets of numbers. He'd
alerted colleagues when he would be sending those thoughts. But
the mission was delayed by 40 minutes, so each experiment
occurred 40 minutes after it was supposed to. He found out later
he'd been successful 35 of 400 times. He said that's too many to
attribute to chance.

After his return, one of the participants leaked the tests to
the press. "I didn't expect it to hit the news the way it did,"
he said.

But it was anothe experience he'd had during his return voyage
that changed his life. Mitchell wrote about it in his 1996
memoir, The Way of the Explorer: "What I experienced during that
three-day trip home was nothing short of an overwhelming sense
of universal connectedness. I actually felt what has been
described as an ecstasy of unity."

Mitchell wrote that he felt "a sense that our presence as space
travelers, and the existence of the universe itself, was NOT
ACCIDENTAL, but that there was An intelligent process at work.
I perceived the universe as in some way conscious."

A year and a half later, in 1972, Mitchell left NASA and the
Navy. The Apollo program was done, the shuttle was a decade away
and "I didn't want to fly a desk," he said. The more he thought
about the epiphany he'd had in space, the more he felt he had to
do something with it.

"I had to find out. What's it all about? It led me to think:
What we in science are modeling is incomplete and possibly
flawed. Let's go find out."

He began researching mystical literature, including that of the
Hindu and Buddhist religions. There, he came across Samadhi. The
Sanskrit word refers to a state of consciousness and total
unity; an individualism but also a oneness. He found what he had
experienced is discussed in virtually every culture and
religion. Mitchell argues that ESP, clairvoyance - getting
thoughts from nature - and other supposedly supernatural feats
are within the capabilities of every person.

"It would appear most of the so-called mystical and spiritual
experiences these people have been having forever are part of
the quantum properties of every living organism," he said. So in
January 1973 he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in
California (noetic is from the Greek word for mind). The
nonprofit organization, which numbers among its members
scientists, philosophers and religious scholars, explores the
scientific foundations of psychic and spiritual events. He still
serves as an adviser and sits on its board of directors.

His goal was to take such concepts out of the realm of the far-
out and "bring them into scientific perspective."

Personal Turmoil
Even as Mitchell seeks spiritual peace, his
personal life at times has been anything but peaceful.

Just before leaving NASA, Mitchell, in the middle of divorcing
his first wife, Louise, met Anita Rettig, a publicist at Walt
Disney World. They married in 1972 and he adopted her three
children. Later, they moved to Palm Beach County, where Anita
had friends. Mitchell hooked up with Generoso Pope, publisher of
The National Enquirer and other tabloids based at the time in
Lantana. Mitchell's job was to coordinate with his connections
in the psychic world. "It didn't last too long," he said.

Mitchell's marriage to Anita ended in divorce in 1984 after he
had an affair with Sheilah Ledbetter, a former Playboy model.
Ledbetter filed a paternity suit against Mitchell which proved
in 1986 that he had fathered a son with her. They married in
1989 and divorced 10 years later. For now, Mitchell lives off
his naval pension, his book royalties and his lectures. He also
stays in touch with his colleagues.

"For 3,000 years, we've been asking: Who are we? How did we get
here? Where are we going?" he said. "Space exploration is about
that. And we'll keep doing it."


Ed Mitchell on:

The Challenger And Columbia Disasters: Over the last 20 years,
NASA settled into workaday space missions: important, but not
exciting. Ground the shuttle, after it's finished building the
International Space Station. But then, do new manned missions to
explore the moon and Mars.

NASA Then And Now: "When I was working with NASA in the early
1960s, this was the most dedicated, driven, together, 'Gonna do
it,' motivated team of people you're ever going to encounter.
That high motivation lasted up through the beginnings of the
Apollo program... We weren't ready scientifically yet to go out
into deep space.

But we did it because it was a political imperative. And it
worked. But once we'd done that, it's, 'Ho, hum, what have you
done now?' And by the early 1970s, when we were halfway through
the lunar landings, the climate in NASA was becoming
bureaucratic. I've said facetiously we had to fill out forms in
triplicate just to go to the bathroom."

President Bush's Recent Mars Mission Proposal: "I'm sure we will
(go) in due course. I personally think this current initiative
is an election year ploy. I don't want to diminish the notion of
going to the moon and Mars. It's a powerful notion and we will
do it sooner or later. The question is timing and motivation.
The budget isn't near what it's going to take." Also, must be an
international effort "and we're not anywhere close to doing it."

Life On Other Planets: It would be far more IRrational to
believe Earth is the ONLY SPOT in the universe with intelligent
life. Life elsewhere in this solar system, now or ever? No. We
know enough about those planets to make it highly unlikely they
supported anything more sophisticated than the equivalent of

Whether Aliens Have Visited Earth: Has no first-hand experience
but is convinced.

Hostile? "Not that I'm aware."

People who claim they were abducted by aliens? "Something has
happened to them. The jury's still out about what happened."
Can't dismiss one theory that aliens are collecting
terrestrial DNA for research.

A Government Cover-Up Of UFOs: "That's putting it mildly. We've
been lied to and covered up. It was a military rationale 50
years ago. Now it's a bureaucratic morass. I doubt if higher-
ups even know what the right answers are."

Why a cover up at the beginning? "It would rattle our

AREA 51, the secret military base in Nevada where scientists
study crashed alien spacecraft and their crews: Was briefed,
even recently, by "old timers" who were there, "but I can't say
by whom."

The Roswell Incident, in which aliens, some alive, were
recovered after a July 1947 crash: "It was valid. I've been

Erich Von D=E4niken, whose many books theorize early Biblical
passages and folk stories actually described visits by aliens:
"It's pretty far out. There may be a kernel of truth."

Was mankind genetically engineered by other civilizations or
originally immigrants from another planet? "I have not seen
validation for that."

Whether space flight will ever be as workaday as in Star Trek:
"It's inevitable. Yes. By the end of this century. Out of our
solar system. Provided we don't destroy ourselves."


More On Edgar Dean Mitchell:

Born: Sept. 17, 1930, Hereford, Texas. Raised in Artesia, N.M.

Education: Bachelor of Science, Industrial Management, Carnegie
Institute of Technology, 1952. Bachelor of Science, Aeronautical
Engineering, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, 1961. Doctor of
Science, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, 1964. Military: U.S. Navy, 1952-1972.
NASA: 1966-1972. Lunar module commander, Apollo 14, Jan. 31-Feb.
9, 1971.

Feb. 5: became sixth of 12 men to walk on moon. Crewmates:
commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (died 1998); command module pilot
Stuart A. Roosa (died 1994).

Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom, Navy Distinguished Medal,
three NASA Group Achievement Awards. Inducted to Space Hall of
Fame, 1979, Astronaut Hall of Fame, 1998. Founder, Institute of
Noetic Sciences. Co-founder, Association of Space Explorers.
Author, Psychic Exploration, 1974; The Way of the Explorer, 1996
(revised 2001).

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