In memory of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a memorial wreath was placed in the Apollo Saturn V Center at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The brief ceremony took place on the morning of Feb. 12, 2016. The wreath was placed in the Treasures of Apollo exhibit where the Apollo 14 command module, flown by Mitchell, Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa, is on display.
One of 12 humans to walk on the moon, Mitchell died Feb. 4, 2016, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 85. It was the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.
As Apollo 14’s lunar module pilot, Mitchell and mission commander Shepard touched down in the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands aboard the lunar module Antares on Feb. 5, 1971.
Mitchell was born Sept. 17, 1930, in Hereford, Texas, but considered Artesia, New Mexico, his hometown. After being commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy, Mitchell went on to accumulate 5,000 hours flight time, including 2,000 hours in jet aircraft. NASA selected Mitchell as an astronaut in 1966.
Mitchell was drawn to spaceflight by President John F. Kennedy’s call to send astronauts to the moon.
“That’s what I wanted, because it was the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see and what you could learn,” Mitchell said after Kennedy announced the moon program. “I’ve been devoted to that, to exploration, education and discovery since my earliest years, and that’s what kept me going,”
As Apollo 14 command module pilot Stuart Roosa orbited the moon, Mitchell and Shepard collected 94 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that later were distributed for analysis across 187 scientific teams in the United States and 14 other countries.
Mitchell retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy in 1972.
In an interview for NASA’s oral history program in 1997, Mitchell commented on what spaceflight meant to him.
“To me, that was the culmination of my being,” he said, “and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That’s important, because I think what we’re trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos and we don’t know. We’re still looking for that.”
Mitchell lived in Palm Beach County, Florida, since 1975. He is survived by four daughters, Karlyn Mitchell, Elizabeth Kendall, Kimberly Mitchell and Mary Beth Johnson, a son, Paul Mitchell, and nine grandchildren. His son Adam Mitchell died in 2010.