Only 12 people have ever fulfilled the dreams of many and set foot on the moon. I can only imagine the terror and joy, and every other emotion in between, that those 12 men went through. But once they’ve returned to Earth, embraced the President and sung the national anthem – what next? Where would the careers officer point an ex-astronaut?
The fourth man on the moon, Alan Bean, has pursued his dream of becoming an artist. He attaches small pieces of the US flag and space suit from his mission to his finished work and uses the geology hammer he took with him to the moon to add texture. As well as gaining great satisfaction from ‘catching the spirit of Apollo’ on canvas, his art hasn’t done his bank balance any harm. Some of his paintings have sold for over $400,000. Not a bad pension scheme is it?
Buzz Aldrin has been a supporter of the Republican Party for many years. Harrison Schmitt, a member of the final mission, took his political views further by securing a Senate seat. He used his position tosupport science and engineering but failed to be re-elected after concerns were raised that Schmitt had abandoned any thought of any local issues and was failing to turn up to a suitable number of voting sessions. The opposition’s slogan read ‘What on Earth has he done for you today?’
Three out of the twelve committed to their religion and became Christian preachers. Many of the astronauts have spoken of how their travels have awakened or re-enforced their faith. Charles Duke has committed his life to promoting Christianity in prisons, David Scott has become a full time preacher and James Irwin has become a self-styled “Goodwill Ambassador for the Prince of Peace” , stating ‘Jesus walking on the Earth is far more important than a man walking on the moon’. He even led an expedition to Turkey in order to find Noah’s Ark but had to turn back after falling from a cliff and injuring his leg.
Some very lucky students from Wisconsin-Madison and Cincinnati universities got a moon walker as a lecturer. Harrsion Schmitt became professor of engineering physics at Wisconsin-Madison University and Neil Armstrong was appointed as head of school at the Aerospace Engineering Department at Cincinnati University despite having very little experience or the correct qualifications. He hoped his new colleagues wouldn’t be too annoyed but he soon won their respect with his humility and engineering skill. He once said “I love to teach. I love the kids, only they were smarter than I was, which made it a challenge.”
The twelve space men have used their fame to support a range of causes. Harrison Schmitt is a global warming sceptic and has given speeches and authored papers defending his views. Moon walker number 6, Edgar Mitchell, set up the Institute of Noetic Sciences which promotes research into psychic events after he had a paranormal experience when returning from Apollo 14. He has also promoted remote healing (which he claims cured his cancer) and believes in the existence of UFOs.
All the astronauts have shown their support for further space exploration but opinion is split as to the best method to proceed – to Mars or back to the moon? No prizes for guessing that most of the 12 want the human race to return to the moon and, quite literally, follow in their footsteps.