Edgar Mitchell, one of the astronauts on the Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971, has died, according to his daughter, Kimberly Mitchell, the Associated Press reported Friday. Mitchell was the sixth person to walk on the moon.
Mitchell reportedly died at a hospice in West Palm Beach, Florida, Thursday night after suffering a short illness. He was 85 years old. The astronaut was one of only 12 people to ever have set foot on the lunar surface.
Along with Mitchell, the Apollo 14 crew encompassed Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa. Mitchell and Shepard spent a total of 33 hours on the moon, collecting rocks and taking measurements, as CNN reported. Mitchell snapped the iconic picture of Shepard standing next to an American flag while on the moon, and Shepard even hit a couple of golf balls while there.
“Looking at Earth from space and seeing it was a planet in isolation ... that was an experience of ecstasy, realizing that every molecule in our bodies is a system of matter created from a star hanging in space,” Mitchell once told the Telegraph. “The experience I had was called Samadhi in the ancient Sanskrit, a feeling of overwhelming joy at seeing the Earth from that perspective.”
Mitchell was known for attempting to communicate telepathically with his friends at home during the Apollo mission, and he claimed he had an “epiphany” in space that led him to study consciousness and physics. After leaving NASA in 1972, Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which is dedicated to exploring the mysteries of the human mind and universe. Later on, he claimed the U.S. government had covered up evidence that aliens had landed in the U.S.
“What I experienced during that three-day trip home was nothing short of an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness,” Mitchell wrote in his 1996 autobiography, AP reported. “It occurred to me that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft itself were manufactured long ago in the furnace of one of the ancient stars that burned in the heavens about me.”