Rusty Schweickart

American astronaut

Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart (born October 25, 1935) was a former American astronaut. Schweickart was selected in 1963 for NASA's third astronaut group. He was the Lunar Module Pilot on the 1969 Apollo 9 mission, the first crewed flight test of the lunar module, on which he performed the first in-space test of the portable life support system used by the Apollo astronauts who walked on the Moon.

RustySchweickart in 1971


  • As you eat breakfast you look out the window as you're going past, and there's the Mediterranean area, Greece and Rome and North Africa and the Sinai, that whole area. And you realize that in one glance what you're seeing is what was the whole history of man for years - the cradle of civilization. And you go down across North Africa and out over the Indian Ocean and look up at that great subcontinent of India pointed down toward you as you go past it, Ceylon off to the side, then Burma, Southeast Asia, out over the, Philippines and up across that monstrous Pacific Ocean, that vast body of water - you've never realized how big that is before. And you finally come up across the coast of California, and you look for those friendly things, Los Angeles and Phoenix and on across to El Paso. And there's Houston, there's home, you know, and you look and sure enough there's the Astrodome - and you identify with that, it's an attachment. And on across New Orleans and then you look down to the south and there's the whole peninsula of Florida laid out. And all the hundreds of hours you've spent flying across that route down in the atmosphere, all that is friendly again. And you go out across the Atlantic Ocean and back across Africa, and you do it again and again and again.
    And you identify with Houston and then you identify with Los Angeles and Phoenix and New Orleans. And the next thing you recognize in yourself is that you're identifying with North Africa - you look forward to that, you anticipate it, and there it is. And that whole process of what it is you identify with begins to shift. When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. And that makes a change.
    You look down there and you can't imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross, again and again and again, and you don't even see them. There you are - hundreds of people in the Mid-East killing each other over some imaginary line that you're not even aware of, that you can't see. And from where you see it, the thing is a whole, and it's so beautiful. You wish you could take one in each hand, one from each side in the various conflicts, and say, "Look. Look at it from this perspective. Look at that. What's important?"
    And a little later on, your friend, again one of those same neighbors, the person next to you, goes out to the moon. And now he looks back and he sees the Earth not as something big, where he can see the beautiful details, but now he sees the Earth as a small thing out there. And the contrast between that bright blue and white Christmas tree ornament and the black sky, that infinite universe, really comes through, and the size of it, the significance of it. It is so small and so fragile and such a precious little spot in that universe that you can block it out with your thumb, and you realize that on that small spot, that little blue and white thing, is everything that means anything to you - all of history and music and poetry and art and death and birth and love, tears, joy, games, all of it on that little spot out there that you can cover with your thumb. And you realize from that perspective that you've changed, that there's something new there, that the relationship is no longer what it was.
    And then you look back on the time you were outside on that EVA and on those few moments that you could take, because a camera malfunctioned, to think about what was happening. And you recall staring out there at the spectacle that went before your eyes, because now you're no longer inside something with a window looking out at a picture. Now you're out there and there are no frames, there are no limits, there are no boundaries. You're really out there, going 25,000 miles an hour, ripping through space, a vacuum. And there's not a sound. There's a silence the depth of which you've never experienced before, and that silence contrasts so markedly with the scenery you're seeing and with the speed with which you know you're moving.
    And you think about what you're experiencing and why. Do you deserve this, this fantastic experience? Have you earned this in some way? Are you separated out to be touched by God, to have some special experience that others cannot have? And you know the answer to that is no. There's nothing that you've done that deserves that, that earned that; it's not a special thing for you. You know very well at that moment, and it comes through to you so powerfully, that you're the sensing element for man. You look down and see the surface of that globe that you've lived on all this time, and you know all those people down there and they are like you, they are you - and somehow you represent them. You are up there as the sensing element, that point out on the end, and that's a humbling feeling. It's a feeling that says you have a responsibility. It's not for yourself. The eye that doesn't see doesn't do justice to the body. That's why it's there; that's why you are out there. And somehow you recognize that you're a piece of this total life. And you're out there on that forefront and you have to bring that back somehow. And that becomes a rather special responsibility and it tells you something about your relationship with this thing we call life. So that's a change. That's something new. And when you come back there's a difference in that world now. There's a difference in that relationship between you and that planet and you and all those other forms of life on that planet, because you've had that kind of experience. It's a difference and it's so precious.
    And all through this I've used the word "you" because it's not me, it's not Dave Scott, it's not Dick Gordon, Pete Conrad, John Glenn - it's you, it's we. It's life that's had that experience.
    • Schweickart R. L. (1977) "No Frames, No Boundaries", Earth’s Answer, Lindisfarne Books/Harper & Row (Originally presented at the 1974 Lindisfarne Conference)[1]



Attributed: Quotes found in a reputable secondary source but not sourced to an original work. Read more at Wikiquote:Sourced and Unsourced sections.

  • On that small blue and white planet below is everything that means anything to you: all of history and music, poetry and art, death and birth, love, tears, joy and games... All on that little spot in the cosmos. National boundaries and human artifacts no longer seem real. Only the biosphere, whole and home of life.
    • Richard Rhodes (2012). Visions Of Technology: A Century Of Vital Debate About Machines Systems and the Human World. Simon & Schuster. pp. 264-265. ISBN 978-1-4391-2955-5. 
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