It comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for man. You look down and you see all that 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. You have to somehow—the eye that doesn’t see does not do justice to the body. That’s why it’s there. That’s why you’re out there. And somehow you recognize that you’re a piece of this total life. And you’re out 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. And 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. And it’s a difference. And it’s so precious.

Russell Schweickart

Born: October 25, 1935

Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart is an American aeronautical engineer, and a former NASA astronaut, research scientist, U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, as well as a former business executive and government executive.

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 manned 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. As backup Commander of the first manned Skylab mission in 1973, he was responsible for developing the hardware and procedures used by the first crew to perform critical in-flight repairs of the Skylab station. After Skylab, he served for a time as Director of User Affairs in NASA's Office of Applications.

Schweickart left NASA in 1977 to serve for two years as California Governor Jerry Brown's assistant for science and technology, then was appointed by Brown to California's Energy Commission for five and a half years, serving as chairman for three.

In 1984–85 he co-founded the Association of Space Explorers and later in 2002 co-founded the B612 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending Earth from asteroid impacts, along with fellow former astronaut Ed Lu and two planetary scientists. He served for a period as its chair before becoming its chair emeritus.

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