I realized up there that our planet is not infinite. It's fragile. That may not be obvious to a lot of folks, and it's tough that people are fighting each other here on Earth instead of trying to get together and live on this planet. We look pretty vulnerable in the darkness of space.
I think about the personal accomplishment, but there's more of a sense of the grand achievement by all the people who could put this man on the moon.
The same way people are now paying a couple thousand dollars to fly to other parts of the world, people will be paying 0,000 to spend a weekend on a space station.
Whether you are an astronomer or a life scientist, geophysicist, or a pilot, you've got to be there because you believe you are good in your field, and you can contribute, not because you are going to get a lot of fame or whatever when you get back.
It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.
And I think that still is true of this business - which is basically research and development - that you probably spend more time in planning and training and designing for things to go wrong, and how you cope with them, than you do for things to go right.
Then there was the challenge to keep doing better and better, to fly the best test flight that anybody had ever flown. That led to my being recognized as one of the more experienced test pilots, and that led to the astronaut business.
You know, being a test pilot isn't always the healthiest business in the world.
We worked with the engineers in the design and construction and testing phases in those various areas, then we would get back together at the end of the week and brief each other as to what had gone on.
I just wanted to be the first one to fly for America, not because I'd end up in the pages of history books.
The rocket had worked perfectly, and all I had to do was survive the reentry forces. You do it all, in a flight like that, in a rather short period of time, just 16 minutes as a matter of fact.
There's no question that all the generations got excited about the first flights, with Kennedy's inspiration to go to the moon, leaving the planet for the first time, and fortunately coming back.
This is the first time that astronauts of the first group have exhibited things that are personal and sentimental to them. We hope it will encourage youngsters to follow in our footsteps.
You've done it in the simulator so many times, you don't have a real sense of being excited when the flight is going on. You're excited before, but as soon as the liftoff occurs, you are busy doing what you have to do.
I must admit, maybe I am a piece of history after all.