Edgar Mitchell, Gillian Anderson
The agent on the other end of the phone was giving me a seriously hard sell. “You believe in the power of energy, Uri. Well, this guy has more energy than anyone on the planet, literally — he sells more than a quarter of a billion batteries a year.”
We went from Spitfires to moon-landers in a single generation. If we ever match that surge of technology again, perhaps my ticket into space will be via Teleport Gate Three at Gatwick.
In 20 years, I’ll be over 80 — but thanks to stem cell research, 80 is going to be the new 30. I confidently expect to be a young man in 2028.
The record for the longest moonwalk is held by my friend Dr Edgar Mitchell, who spent nine hours exploring the Fra Mauro highlands where Apollo 14 landed in February 1971. He was investigating the moonquakes believed to occur every month.
Ed is one of my heroes, and he played a major part in coaxing me to America at the start of my career. He had been a US Navy test pilot before he became an astronaut, two roles that were fantasies for a young ex-paratrooper.
When I chatted up the girls on my modelling assignments, I had a lot of chutzpah — but even I never dared to claim I was a test pilot and a spacefarer. (I did tell one girl I was a racing driver…)
I was the one being wooed when a US scientist named Dr Andrija Puharich started taking close interest in my metal-bending abilities. He wanted me to fly to California for government experiments: I was afraid that what he meant was, “Hi, I’m from the CIA and we’d like to lock you in a lab, dissect your brain and then deny you ever existed… doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Andrija was amused that I didn’t trust him. “Who would it take to convince you?” he asked, and the first name that sprang to my mind was not the US President (in 1971, that was Richard Nixon, and he would not have reassured me much). I wanted an introduction to Ed Mitchell.
“Come with me to America and you’ll meet him, I guarantee it,” Andrija promised. Within two days, a signed photo from Ed to me had been delivered. That impressed me. It impressed me a lot.
Ed impressed me too, when we met at Stanford Research Institute in California. He accompanied me to the Goddard labs to meet Dr Wernher von Braun, inventor of the German V2 flying bombs as well as the genius behind NASA’s rocket program.
We talked deeply about the untapped potential of the human mind, and Ed told me of the spiritual revelation he experienced on the return journey. The module was slowly spinning, so that every two minutes the Earth, the sun, the moon and all the billions of stars in the heavens rolled by.
Ed studied astronomy at Harvard and MIT, and he understood that every atom in his body had once been part of those clouds of space dust. He was no different from the stars — they were all part of each other. “I knew that with my head, but suddenly it made sense in my heart,” he said. “It wasn’t just intellectual, it was personal. And it was accompanied by bliss, an ecstasy I had never felt before.”
He told me of his belief that Earth had been visited by at least one other civilisation, and hinted that the leap in technology that made space exploration possible was based in part on what NASA engineers had been able to decipher from alien craft which had either crashed, been captured or been presented to humans to give evolution a nudge.
I believed him. Ed Mitchell is the most sincere man I have ever known, and the truth of what he said was plain. For decades he has not been able to reveal what he knew, but I was not surprised when he spoke out on a British radio station this month. Ed is 77, and he has a zen-like attitude to the opinions of other people — if he is disbelieved, he doesn’t care, because he knows he is speaking the truth.
“We’ve been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real,” he told Nick Margerrison on Birmingham’s Kerrang! radio. “It’s been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it’s leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.”
The aliens NASA knew about were thought to be slight figures with large eyes, Ed told me, though he stressed he hadn’t seen one himself. That is typical of the man: he does not exaggerate or spin the facts, and he takes pains to point out what he doesn’t know, as well as what he does.
He’s a former astronaut, with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an international reputation as a scientist. He has nothing to gain from lying.
But the truth is mind-blowing, and not everyone has the courage to believe.
Ed Mitchell was a consultant on TV’s The X Files. That, and the fact that a Hollywood version of the show has just hit the big screen, is a good enough reason for me to reprint one of my favourite pictures, snapped with X Files star Gillian Anderson.
Picture note: Shipi secretly took the photo of me, Edgar and von Braun with a German Minox spy camera that was no bigger than a pen — seriously 007 technology in the early Seventies. The colours weren’t great, though.
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