© Copyright – Cover image courtesy of Chicago Review Press
• Targeted Audience: Middle School, High School (Ages 12+)
• Genre: Non-Fiction Biography
• Authors: Edgar Mitchell & Ellen Mahoney
• Publisher: Chicago Review Press
• Publication Date: April 1, 2014
• Binding: Hard Cover
• Dimensions: 5.5″ x .8.5″
• Printing: Black & White and Color Photographs
• Length: 192 Pages
• Retail: $19.95
• ISBN: 978-1613749012
I’m not one to generally go out of my way to seek out books about America’s space missions, but I was so engrossed in reading Earthrise: My adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut, that I almost missed my train stop. The world around me didn’t exist wherever I was when reading this book; it’s that fascinating and enlightening.
Edgar Mitchell: Born to Be an Astronaut
Edgar Mitchell was born in 1930 in Hereford, TX and grew up on a farm in the Pecos Valley in New Mexico. He was a curious child who was only four years old when he took his first plane ride. A barnstormer pilot had to make an emergency landing in the Mitchell’s farm field, because it ran out of gas. After Edgar and his father drove that pilot to get more gas, he offered to give them a ride on his small plane. That experience fascinated Edgar and ignited his desire to become a pilot himself – even at that young age. Soon came WWII and also the Roswell UFO incident, the latter of which happened near his home and solidified his interest in flight and now in space too.
Image of Apollo 14 logo by NASA in the Public Domain
Long, Long, Journey to the Moon
Edgar Mitchell’s personal journey is testament to the fact that becoming an astronaut is not something that happens overnight. It’s such a long and challenging road that it requires tireless dedication, an extensive education and an unfaltering desire. In order to become an astronaut, he had to move his family around the country countless times. and be open and flexible to changing jobs numerous times.
In 1946, by the time he was 16, Edgar Mitchell earned his pilot’s license. After getting married and graduating from Carnegie Tech in 1952, he enlisted in the Navy and was a pilot during the Korean War. While in Navy Post-Graduate School, he studied Aeronautics and later earned his Doctorate from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics. At last, in 1966 at the age of 36 he began working for NASA. There he worked behind the scenes on Apollo 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 13 before becoming a lunar module pilot on Apollo 14 in 1971.
© Copyright by NASA – Image of Mitchell in survival training in the jungle of Panama
The Sixth Man to Land on the Moon
© Copyright by NASA – Image of the Apollo 14 team Stuart Ross (l), Alan Shepard (c) & Edgar Mitchell (r)
After years of intensive training, Lunar Module Pilot, Edgar Mitchell, along with Commander Alan Shepard and Command Module Pilot Stuart Ross were ready for their Apollo 14 Mission to the moon. Take-off was on January 31, 1971, and despite several equipment malfunctions during flight, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell stepped out of their rocket to stand on the moon and explore it on February 5, 1971. Mitchell tells the story of the nine-day mission in fascinating detail and with great passion. It’s so descriptive you’ll feel like you were right there in the rocket with him every step of the way. Mitchell shares his life-changing experience of watching the earth rise from the moon and the overwhelming epiphany he had about the universe while returning to earth from space.
Why You Must Read This Book
I’ve never read an autobiography for children that was this riveting, honest and understandable. Mitchell goes into detail about his life and the Apollo 14 Mission, without talking down to readers in any way. He gets the message across loud and clear that becoming an astronaut takes a great deal of sacrifice and hard work, without being preachy. He educates us about the earth and that flying into space helps us better understand, not only the universe, but our own planet too. He answers many questions Americans have about being an astronaut, how rockets work and how potential disasters are handled by astronauts and NASA scientists while missions are underway. There are fascinating pages of transcripts of NASA recordings from the Apollo 14 mission, so we know exactly what was said between the astronauts and scientists back on earth. Mitchell even goes into detail about space suits, what the astronauts eat and drink, how they sleep and go to the bathroom in space, what is going through their minds during different parts of their mission and much more. He frankly mentions how his life as an astronaut took its toll on his marriage and discusses the many other ways the Apollo 14. Mission changed his life.
© Copyright NASA – Image of Mitchel and Shepard at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, cataloging moon rocks they brought back from their mission
What This Book Teaches
More than anything, Earthrise teaches readers that if they want to accomplish something in their own lives that is extraordinary, it is going to take a great deal of hard work. There was no luck involved in Edgar Mitchell’s journey to become an astronaut, Rather it was a burning desire, dedication, an outstanding education and a willingness to be flexible and patient. Readers also learn a great deal about NASA and how astronauts are rigorously trained before going into space. They will understand why our space program is important and also why it is crucial that we do all we can to understand our planet and ensure that the earth is preserved so our natural resources may continue to support life. Earthrise is an awe-inspiring read, and adults will get as much out of it as children do; it should be read by all age-appropriate Americans and be on the shelves of school libraries and classrooms.
- Check out the extensive resources in the back of the book including lists of space-related websites, museums, organizations, films, and books.
- Be sure to read Women in Space, also by Chicago Review Press.
- Visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
- Learn about NASA’s Educational Programs.
About the Authors
Edgar Mitchell was a pilot in the historic 1971 Apollo 14 mission and the sixth man to ever walk on the Moon. He is the author of Paradigm Shift, The Space Less Traveled, and The Way of the Explorer, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, three NASA Group Achievement Awards, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He was inducted to the Space Hall of Fame in 1979, the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Leonardo da Vinci Society for the Study of Thinking in 2011. He is the founder of the renowned Institute of Noetic Sciences and the co-founder of the Association of Space Explorers.
Ellen Mahoney has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering as a staff writer, contributed many educational pieces for Space Center Houston, and produced radio features for the BBC Science in Action show. She is an affiliate faculty instructor in the department of journalism and technical communication at Metro State University of Denver.