By Robert A. Vella
The Secular Jurist mourns the passing of one of the most interesting human beings to have ever walked the surface of Earth. NASA astronaut Edgar Dean Mitchell was also the sixth person to walk on the Moon. He died last Thursday in Florida at the age of 85.
Mitchell was born to a ranching family in Texas and grew up near Roswell, New Mexico, the alleged site of the celebrated UFO incident in 1947. He had a wide variety of interests and hobbies, a trait which propelled him towards great personal accomplishment. He was an honored Boy Scout and member of the DeMolay International Masonic fraternity. Mitchell earned a BS degree in Industrial Management from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and then joined the U.S. Navy. There, he received a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering and went on to achieve a Doctor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
NASA selected Mitchell to their astronaut program in 1966. He served as Lunar Module pilot for the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 along with Commander Alan Sheppard and Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa. This Moon mission was the first after the near-disaster of Apollo 13, and is best remembered for Sheppard hitting two golf balls one-handed with a six-iron on the lunar surface.
The following year, Mitchell retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy. In 1970, Richard Nixon awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1973, Mitchell co-founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a non-profit organization which facilitates research in parapsychology. His book, The Way of the Explorer, was published in 1996.
However, it was on the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and extraterrestrial life that Mitchell was most controversial. He not only believed that these reported phenomena are real, but also asserted that a “cabal of insiders” within the U.S. government had been covering it up in part by ceasing to brief U.S. presidents on the topic after the John F. Kennedy administration. Mitchell spoke publicly on UFOs many times, citing confidential sources which claimed visitations, recovered alien bodies, shared technologies, and more. Less than a year ago, he asserted that Cold War nuclear conflict was averted not because of diplomacy between nations but because of direct intervention by extraterrestrials.
An interesting human being, indeed.
Further reading: Edgar D. Mitchell, Sixth Moonwalking Astronaut, Dies at 85