Friday, 4 November 2011

Wisdom from a Space Man

Some very wise words from scientists who have reached out into space to discover new worlds only to look back and discover their own.


"Now I know why I'm here
Not for a closer look at the moon,
But to look back
At our home
The Earth.
" --Alfred Worden, astronaut

The Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God.
- James Irwin, USA

For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.
- Donald Williams, USA

"It isn't important in which sea or lake you observe a slick of pollution, or in the forests of which country a fire breaks out, or on which continent a hurricane arises. You are standing guard over the whole of our Earth." --Yuri Artyukhin, astronaut

"It isn't important whose [the Earth] is, just that it is." --Oleg Atkov, astronaut

"As I looked down, I saw a large river meandering slowly along for miles, passing from one country to another without stopping. I also saw huge forests, extending along several borders. And I watched the extent of one ocean touch the shores of separate continents. Two words leaped to mind as I looked down on all this: commonality and interdependence. We are one world." --John-David Bartoe, astronaut

"The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth." --Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, astronaut

"When you're finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you're going to get a concept that maybe this is really one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people?" --Frank Borman, astronaut

"After an orange cloud -- formed as a result of a dust storm over the Sahara and caught up by air currents -- reached the Philippines and settled there with rain, I understood that we are all sailing in the same boat." --Vladimir Kovalyonok, astronaut

"My mental boundaries expanded when I viewed the Earth against a black and uninviting vacuum, yet my country's rich traditions had conditioned me to look beyond man-made boundaries and prejudices. One does not have to undertake a space flight to come by this feeling." --Rakesh Sharma, astronaut

"The Earth at night looks even more magical than it does during the day. There's always a lightning storm happening somewhere. Flashes of lightning sometimes cover up to a fourth of a continent. At first you see this as a natural disturbance, the eruption of splashes as a majestic spectacle... All of a sudden, against your will, you imagine that the lightning comes not from a natural storm but from the explosions of bombs. No. That must never happen. Let only the northern lights and lightning blaze above our precious Earth." --Vladimir Shatalov, astronaut

"[Viewing the Earth from space,] you see a singleness and unity to it all that we never perceive in the press of daily life. It seems such a vivid unity that surely it must be rooted some reality, and you wonder why this unity isn't more the reality of everyday human life on earth. You wonder if it could ever be so unified, and you return determined to do whatever you can to make it so -- even a bit." --Kathryn Sullivan, astronaut

"A Chinese tale tells of some men sent to harm a young girl who, upon seeing her beauty, became her protectors rather than her violators. That's how I felt seeing the Earth for the first time. 'I could not help but love and cherish her.'" --Taylor Wang, astronaut



Never in all their history have men been able truly to conceive of the world as one: a single sphere, a globe, having the qualities of a globe, a round earth in which all the directions eventually meet, in which there is no center because every point, or none, is center — an equal earth which all men occupy as equals. The airman's earth, if free men make it, will be truly round: a globe in practice, not in theory.

— Archibald MacLeish, 'The Image of Victory,' commencement address, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, May 1942.



As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space—it will seem increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the human family.

— Hubert H. humphrey, Vice President of the United States, speech at San Fernando Valley State College, 26 September 1966.

When you're finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you're going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people.

— Frank Borman, Apollo 8, Newsweek, 23 December 1968.


It's tiny out there...it's inconsequential. It's ironic that we had come to study the Moon and it was really discovering the Earth.

Bill Anders, Apollo 8, quoted in the 2008 Discovery TV seriesWhen We Left Earth.

We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon you can put your thumb up and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you've ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itselfall behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are, but then how fortunate we are to have this body and to be able to enjoy loving here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.

Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 & 13 astronaut, interview for the 2007 movieIn the Shadow of the Moon.

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.

— Neil Armstrong

Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there.

— Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon.

This planet is not terra firma. It is a delicate flower and it must be cared for. It's lonely. It's small. It's isolated, and there is no resupply. And we are mistreating it. Clearly, the highest loyalty we should have is not to our own country or our own religion or our hometown or even to ourselves. It should be to, number two, the family of man, and number one, the planet at large. This is our home, and this is all we've got.

— Scott Carpenter, Mecury 7 astronaut, speech at Millersville University, Pennslyvania. 15 October 1992.

If somebody'd said before the flight, "Are you going to get carried away looking at the earth from the moon?" I would have say, "No, no way." But yet when I first looked back at the earth, standing on the moon, I cried.

— Alan Shepard

The world itself looks cleaner and so much more beautiful. Maybe we can make it that way—the way God intended it to be—by giving everybody that new perspective from out in space.

— Roger B Chaffee

It truly is an oasis—and we don't take very good care of it. I think the elevation of that awareness is a real contribution to saving the Earth.

— Dave Scott, Apollo 9 & 15, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon.

No one, it has been said, will ever look at the Moon in the same way again. More significantly can one say that no one will ever look at the earth in the same way. Man had to free himself from earth to perceive both its diminutive place in a solar system and its inestimable value as a life -fostering planet. As earthmen, we may have taken another step into adulthood. We can see our planet earth with detachment, with tenderness, with some shame and pity, but at last also with love.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Earth Shine, 1969.

The apologists for space science always seem over-impressed by engineering trivia and make far too much of non-stick frying pans and perfect ball-bearings. To my mind, the outstanding spin-off from space research is not new technology. The real bonus has been that for the first time in human history we have had a chance to look at the Earth from space, and the information gained from seeing from the outside our azure-green planet in all its global beauty has given rise to a whole new set of questions and answers.

— James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, 1979.

Earth picture from space

How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.

— Christiaan Huygens, The Immense Distance Between the Sun and the Planets, 1698,


It’s beyond imagination until you actually get up and see it and experience it and feel it.

— Willie McCool

What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that man set foot on the Moon but that they set eye on the earth.

— Norman Cousins, Cosmic Search magazine, volume 1, number 1, January 1979.

Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived thereon a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994.


Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty—but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving, incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That's where life is; that's were all the good stuff is.

— Loren Acton

I left Earth three times and found no other place to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth.

— Wally Schirra, 1998.

To fly in space is to see the reality of Earth, alone. The experience changed my life and my attitude toward life itself. I am one of the lucky ones.

— Roberta Bondar, Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years.

The world looks marvelous from up here, so peaceful, so wonderful and so fragile. Everybody, all of us down there, not only in Israel, have to keep it clean and good.

— Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon, 29 January 2003.

We were flying over America and suddenly I saw snow, the first snow we ever saw from orbit. I have never visited America, but I imagined that the arrival of autumn and winter is the same there as in other places, and the process of getting ready for them is the same. And then it struck me that we are all children of our Earth.

— Aleksandr Aleksandrov

I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified fa├žade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.

— Michael Collins, Gemini 10 & Apollo 11 astronaut, Carrying the Fire: An Astronauts Journeys, 1974.

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch."

— Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, People magazine, 8 April 1974.

We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.

— Edgar Mitchell

We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth.

— William Anders


Spaceship Earth is a world view term usually expressing concern over the use of limited resources available on Earth and the behavior of everyone on it to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good.

Buckminster fuller

Spaceship Earth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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