As Beautiful As Can Be
Painting Completed March 2013
|I remember when the third stage of our Saturn V rocket shut down and Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and I were headed away from our Earth at 25,000 miles per hour. Looking out my small forward window, there was nothing but the shiny black of deep space. That was what I expected, as we were heading to where the Moon would be some three days from now.
As soon as we completed the Translunar Insertion checklist, Dick Gordon threw a switch that separated us from the SIV-B rocket. He thrusted forward a bit, and then turned our spacecraft around to get in position to dock with our lunar module.
What an amazing sight! We were still too close to see the Earth as a complete sphere, but I could see most of it. We did not appear to be moving, but the Earth was going away from us at an incredible speed. This was scary, because I knew we needed to return in ten days and where in the universe would the Earth be then? Boy, Mission Control better have this all figured out!
I looked out at the universe any time I had the free time throughout the mission. Mostly, there was nothing to see but the shiny black of infinity. But, if I looked carefully out each of our five windows I could usually find the Earth out one of them. I studied the colors of the oceans, the patterns of the clouds and the shapes and colors of the land masses as they became smaller and smaller, then later, as they grew larger on our return voyage. Our planet Earth was the most beautiful object in the universe that I saw on my mission to the Moon in 1969.
I now realize our Earth is the most beautiful place any human has ever seen. Even with all the telescopes we humans have built, even with all the robot spacecrafts we have sent out into the universe, we have never seen a world as wonderful as our planet Earth. We have never seen a bush or tree or even a blade of grass, we have never seen a rabbit or a bird. We have never seen any living thing anywhere but right here on planet Earth.
Maybe there are amazing planets out there circling distant stars. Maybe there are astonishing life forms out there far, far away, but we still have never seen them. Maybe our descendents will, or maybe not.
Right now we have the Earth, and it is as beautiful as can be. And just think, we get to live our whole lives on it.