Astronauts who got creative about their experiences
October 9, 2011 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Over 500 people have traveled into outer space. While many have written books about the experience, only a few have used more creative means to express what they saw and felt. Here are a few:

:: Alfred Worden ::
For three days in 1971, he circled the moon alone during Apollo 15, as his two crewmates walked on the moon below. As they journeyed back from the moon, he become the first person to do a space walk in deep space.

In 1974, he wrote a book of poetry based on his experiences, Hello Earth! Greetings From Endeavour!. Here are few samples, found around the net.

Oceans, July Launch and Cycle

Here's a few more (Hello Earth! Cycle, Oceans, Quietly Like a Night Bird) from the Kate Bush forum, where it's speculated that some of his poetry inspired her.

An interview with Worden. The audio portion is only a small part of the written version.

:: Alexei Leonov ::
The first human to walk in space and later, commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first joint mission between American and Soviet Union. Even as a child he was interested in art, so it was natural for him to continue painting and drawing after he had traveled into space..

Here's couple of his paintings:
"Open Space"
"The Moon. First Moments After Landing"

:: Alan Bean ::
Became the fourth man on the moon during Apollo 12, later commanded a Skylab mission. Deeply inspired by walking on the moon, he quit NASA to become a full time artist. The distinction of being the only artist to travel to another world earned him a spot on the Colbert Report.

:: Story Musgrave ::
Mission Specialist on six Space Shuttle missions, Musgrave has lead an extraodinary career as a doctor, scientist, pilot and astronaut.

A recital of Spacial Speed. More of his poetry is at the same site.

Another recital, this time of "Mother Earth".
posted by Brandon Blatcher (11 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Alan Bean's work looks like some horrible outerspace mashup of Thomas Kinkade and Bob Ross with a little bit of "dogs playing poker" on velvet.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:58 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by WhitenoisE at 4:05 PM on October 9, 2011

Eyes Turned Skyward, Looking Back at Earth
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

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

A Chinese tale tells of some men sent to harm a young girl who, upon seeing her beauty, become 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

As we got further and further away, it [the Earth] diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful 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.
— James B. Irwin

For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light—our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance.
— Ulf Merbold.

Suddenly, from behind the rim of the Moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth . . . home.
— Edgar Mitchell

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

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 Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space.
— Aleksei Leonov

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
posted by Rhaomi at 4:12 PM on October 9, 2011 [18 favorites]

Admit it, Alfred... NASA knows more than it's letting on. You guys were exposed to Vogons.
posted by condour75 at 4:12 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's cool what Alan Bean does, but it kind of bothered me how much space in the Smithsonian is wasted on his stuff. A painting or two would amply show his post-apollo trajectory. But dedicating what seems like an entire wing (probably just a few rooms) to painting after painting, all looking like variations on the same thing, is too much considering the awesomeness of artefacts the Smithsonian isn't displaying for lack of display space.

That many of his works are for sale makes it ickier, like the Smithsonian is hawking for the guy.

It wouldn't surprise me though if a lot of other people have a more positive experience. Blaneyphoto mentions Thomas Kinkade, and Kinkade is popular after all :)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:01 PM on October 9, 2011

I'm not sure if "Entrance" on Alan Bean's homepage is a noun or a verb.
posted by stargell at 7:58 PM on October 9, 2011

Don't forget Buzz Aldrin's rap career:
The Rocket Experience. (Making of)
posted by HSWilson at 9:15 PM on October 9, 2011

In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:06 AM on October 10, 2011

They should've sent a poet.
posted by Guy Smiley at 6:38 AM on October 10, 2011

They should've sent a poet.

Many astronauts would agree and are keenly aware of how hard it is for them to express what they saw and felt and experienced.

That's what makes these attempts fascinating, IMO, that some astronauts tried for to be poetic anyway. It's neat to see the struggle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 AM on October 10, 2011

Worden's record spacewalk 200,000 miles from earth. No witty banter during that excursion... /shivers
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 9:44 PM on October 10, 2011

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