Apollo 9’s Rusty Schweickart On Mars, Elon Musk, Space Tourism, More | Space

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Rusty Schweickart, an Apollo 9 astronaut, is from NASA’s old guard, when, during the 1960s, the U.S. was in a desperate Cold War space race with the former Soviet Union to put a man on the Moon. Schweickart’s flight launched just a few months before Apollo 11, which, on July 20, 1969, did put men on the lunar surface, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first-ever humans there.

Apollo 9 was a low-Earth orbital mission where the Lunar Module (LM) and Command Module docked for the first time in space, a warm-up for the next several lunar missions where the LM would take astronauts all the way down to the lunar surface. It was a critical flight in the Apollo program, and one during which Schweickart also became the first person to walk in space with the full Apollo lunar space suit and life support system.

Given all of the recent activity within the aerospace industry, both private efforts and with NASA, we thought now would be a good time for a seasoned veteran’s thoughts on all of it. Following are edited excerpts from a longer telephone conversation we had with Schweickart, 88, this past week.

Jim Clash: When you did your Apollo 9 spacewalk, I imagine the feeling, and the view outside of the spacecraft, were pretty unique?

Rusty Schweickart: I was out there for 47 minutes. I’d say the feeling is similar to climbing to the top of a high mountain. You pretty much know what it will look like from up there. But the effort and work you put into the climb…

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