What it is - to be the last man on the moon
Eugene Cernan, the astronaut, 79 years old:
"I do not remember their first steps on the moon, but very well remember the past. Together with a partner - a geologist Harrison Schmitt - we spent on the Moon three days. Ronald Evans, command module pilot, was waiting for us in orbit. We already knew that the "Apollo 17" - the last moon mission, but during those three days, I somehow did not think that'll be the last person who will stand on the surface of the moon (to July 20, 1969 to December 14, 1972 as part of the US program "Apollo" on the moon 12 people attended).
From the outset it was known that in the manned module, which will take us from the surface of the moon back into orbit, Schmitt must come first. When we were leaving, he quickly climbed the ladder and disappeared inside, and I overcame three or four steps and turned around.
At this point, for some reason I remembered as a child went to his grandfather in the summer on a farm, and then, when my parents came to pick me up, I went with them, but always turned around and looked at grandparents house. Standing at the entrance to the lunar module, I felt something very similar. Although, I always knew that next summer will be back, and to the moon, I will not go back would never leaving a Dedova farm. Someone once might come back here, but I do not.
I stood at the entrance to the module, looking at the moon, looking at Earth. There, on the moon, you always look at the Earth. From there, from the cosmos, it is poignant. It is more like a picture on the blue spot painted on a black background. She is so close and so small that you begin to feel: you can just reach out and take it with you - to show your loved ones - that's how it looks. Yes, I spent three days on the Moon, but flying away, suddenly understood the meaning of these three days of my life. I realized that for three whole days sitting on the porch with God - sat and watched a huge world that he created.
When you see what I saw, you know, that such beauty could not appear by accident, and you know that God exists. No matter how people represent him, as they call it and how to worship him - it exists independently of human representations. Since I firmly believe in his existence, because he was a witness to the beauty of its design.
Then I went to the module and felt something like relief. Until then, it was too much of a fuss. I was the pilot of the lunar module. I planted it on the surface of the moon. You know what it is like - down to the surface of the moon? You have three scenarios: you do everything right, you do everything wrong and you just kill yourself. Realizing this, everyone is silent. No one can not help you, and why everyone is silent. When the 100 feet you envelops a cloud of dust, all too silent. All that at this moment there is for you - it's dust, noise and a terrible shaking. And the device touches the surface. The noise subsided, the dust dissipates, your partner fascinated watching you, and only in that moment you realize that you are on another planet, if you are, of course, let me call the moon planet. You find yourself in another world and see around the mountain, above the Grand Canyon which is at least three times.
I felt fear? From the beginning and until now I answer to this question is monotonous: we were too loaded with things to have time to get scared. All we felt - greatness. After the Moon - this moon. On Earth, you can conquer the highest mountains and descend into the depths of the ocean, but you're still on Earth. When you just do step on the moon, you know that all your earthly achievements - nothing, because you're no longer on Earth. I was lucky: we can say that I was on the moon twice. In 1969, we carried out tests on the lunar orbit, and I was terribly worried. Then, three years later, I walked on the Moon, and also felt terrible excitement. Our mission is considered the most effective and longest we have spent on the lunar surface more than the previous crews, we have brought the greatest amount of ground, and we had a very large number of experiments. But in fact, a big difference was between the lunar missions. Neil Armstrong said: "Houston," Eagle "landed". I said, "Houston," Challenger "landed". All very similar. Probably, therefore, has returned to Earth, I thought that this is not the end but rather the beginning. I was confident that despite the end of the program "Apollo", by the end of the XX century on the moon and build a manned station on the ground that the landing of all six lunar modules - especially the "Apollo 11" - a monument.
I was sure of it. Perhaps for the same reason I left on the moon your favorite camera - Hasselblad 500. Why did I do it? To researchers who, I hope, do come back someday to the moon, we were able to see how space radiation can affect the lens. I am sorry about the camera? Of course not. In addition to her I had left on the moon and something I'm really proud of: the three letters "T", "D" and "C" - the initials of my daughter.
The flight back to Earth was very similar to the return from vacation, which was delayed a bit. On board we had a little tape, and the whole way we spun Dean Martin and Going Back to Houston ( "Going back to Houston"). Now, after forty years, I think that, thanks to the flight I saw with my own eyes what the infinity of space and time. I can not show it on the palm of your hand, and I can not draw it on a piece of paper. I saw it with my own eyes, but I do not have words to explain what it is. I do not think all this makes me a special person. Once upon a time I dreamed about airplanes, and this dream has led me into space. Now I have read a lot about the history of Texas and the dream of becoming a John Wayne.
The further in the past is my flight, the more I think that in human history there was no such thing as inspiring as the program "Apollo". Now everything is just about Mars and say, but I continue to believe that first we need to build a base on the moon - it will make the way to Mars, much easier. Do I want to fly to Mars? I think the question is so not worth it. Theoretically, I am ready, but I do not want to spend nine months to get to him, and then another eighteen, waiting for the world closer together, so that I can go home. "