Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell speaks before a packed audience of more than 100 people at the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Hunter, a barred owl, was rescued from Juneau and now makes his home at the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines.
Dylan, an eastern screech owl, at the Foundation. He came from Alabama.
Story last updated at 11/28/2012 - 3:16 pm
The American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines was packed to capacity on Saturday, Nov. 17 as the sixth man to walk on the moon spoke.
Edgar Mitchell was on his way back from the Korean War when talk of space exploration was coming from the U.S. government. Mitchell knew a new era was about to open up and he knew he wanted to be a part of it. He went to MIT, earned his doctorate and worked his way into NASA.
Mitchell, 82, is one of 12 men to walk on the moon, one of eight still alive.
The experience of standing on the moon and looking back at Earth changed and inspired Mitchell.
"It's been 40 years since I was to the moon," Mitchell said. "It's been 60 years since I started trying to get to the moon."
Mitchell said a new avenue has opened up for human space exploration.
"Our sun is going to burn out in a couple billion more years and we gotta be out of here," he said. "That's something we're just beginning to understand. Seeing Earth and its perspective on the universe, it's an overwhelming experience. There was a sense of ecstasy, a sense of wonder... we're stardust. We need to step back and take a look at that."
After his return to Earth he talked with Rice University, trying to understand his experience. What he experienced is something that most astronauts have experienced - overview effect.
Mitchell founded his own organization, called the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and is in 16 countries.
"They're trying to help us understand ... go into the future as a successful, loving civilization that's no longer willing to kill each other over who's got the best guns," Mitchell said. "We have to learn how to live in a better way and to appreciate the utter magnificence of the universe we're in. In due course, we'll go outside our own universe ... and become universal citizens, if we don't blow it."
Mitchell also spoke about having a sustainable civilization.
"We can do it," he said. "We have to do it in the right way. I've devoted my life to it, having come back from the moon. I'm not the only one. ... it's recognizable how immense our universe is and we're just a small part of it. Either we're going to make it together or we're not going to make it at all."
Audience members asked a few questions, including whether he thought the human race can make it further into space with the funding cuts to NASA. Mitchell said it's still possible, especially with the incentives being offered for the private sector to develop space travel. Mitchell likened it to the airline industry. Twenty years after the first airplane flew an airline industry was growing. While it's taking a bit longer with space travel, Mitchell believes the same will happen.
Mitchell said that when the Earth becomes universal citizens, we'll think it will be silly to say "I'm from the United States, or I'm from China." Instead, it'll be "I'm from Earth."
Mitchell believes we will have manned missions to Mars, but he doesn't know how soon. The rocket that launched Apollo 14 to the moon had to generate more than 7 million pounds of thrust to get the ship off the ground.
"That's awesome numbers folks," he said. And Mars is even further.
Mitchell was invited to Haines for the gala fundraiser - an auction and dinner, to benefit the American Bald Eagle Foundation. It's the foundation's 30th anniversary, where founders like Dave Olerud have dedicated immeasurable amounts of time to offer a comprehensive center. Olerud spends time these days sharing stories about relative space and how all creatures here have the ability to sustain themselves. This space, Olerud said, is what the Tlingit's refer to as the box of life. There's a map painted in the Foundation that shows topographical geography of the region and shows things like where their homes were and trade routes.
"You have to understand how the Natives came here, there was not one piece of paper that documented the space," Olerud said.
That was something they had to learn to adapt and survive.
The Foundation has two primary programs, an internship program and a youth raptor education program. Each helps promote education of science, natural history and raptor care.
For more information on the American Bald Eagle Foundation visit http://www.baldeagles.org/
Sarah Day is the editor of Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.