Edgar “Ed” Mitchell was the Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 14, the third lunar landing mission launched January 31, 1971. During two lunar explorations, Mitchell and Spacecraft Commander Alan B. Shepard traveled more than a mile from their landing site and spent a then-record 33 hours and 31 minutes on the lunar surface.
Edgar Dean Mitchell was born on September 17, 1930, in Hereford, Texas. The son of a rancher, he learned to fly airplanes at the age of thirteen. Mitchell graduated from Artesia High School in Artesia, New Mexico and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1952. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U. S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1961, and a Doctorate of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1964. He graduated first in his class from the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California in 1966.
Mitchell entered the Navy in 1952, and after completing basic training attended Officer Candidate School, winning a commission as an ensign. He then attended flight training at Hutchinson, Kansas. In 1954, he was assigned to Patrol Squadron 29 in Okinawa.
From 1957 to 1958, “Ed” Mitchell flew the Douglas A3 Skywarrior while assigned to Heavy Attack Squadron 2 deployed aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard and USS Ticonderoga. In 1959, he served as a Research Project Pilot with Air Development Squadron 5. From 1960 to 1964, Mitchell attended MIT then was Chief of the Project Management Division of the Navy’s field office for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory. He was an Instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilot when selected as an astronaut in 1966. Captain Mitchell logged 5,000 hours of flight time, including 2,000 hours in jets.
Ed Mitchell’s first assignments at NASA were as a member of the support crew for Apollo 9, and as the backup Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 10. His sole spaceflight was as Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 14, the third lunar landing mission, launched January 31, 1971. Alan B. Shepard was Spacecraft Commander and Stuart A. Roosa was Command Module pilot.
During their two lunar explorations on February 5 and 6, Mitchell and Shepard collected 94 pounds of lunar samples. After a then-record 33 hours and 31 minutes on the lunar surface, they rendezvoused with Roosa who had been in lunar orbit aboard the Command Module Kitty Hawk and returned to Earth with a safe splashdown on February 9. Mitchell logged a total of 216 hours and 42 minutes in space during Apollo 14. In 1972, Mitchell was backup Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 16.
Captain Ed Mitchell resigned from NASA and from the Navy in October 1972. He founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Palo Alto, California, and was its Chairman. The institute studied psychic phenomena in all its manifestations, trying to test them in scientific situations. Mitchell had long been interested in the subject and conducted unauthorized extrasensory perception (ESP) experiments while on the Moon. Captain Mitchell passed away on February 4, 2016, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Captain Mitchell was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1970), the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the MSC Superior Achievement Award (1970), the Navy Astronaut Wings, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the City of New York Gold Medal (1971), and the Arnold Air Society’s John F. Kennedy Award (1971).