Sixth man to walk on moon dies, aged 85
Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut and sixth man to walk on the moon, has died at his home in Florida, aged 85.
Dr Mitchell is best remembered for helping Nasa restore its reputation after the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, the interest he developed later in life in aliens and his conviction that they had visited earth.
He said he had undergone an epiphany in space during the three days he spent returning to earth following the successful Apollo 14 mission in February, 1971.
"What I experienced during that three-day trip home was nothing short of an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness," Dr Mitchell wrote in his 1996 autobiography.
"It occurred to me that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft itself were manufactured long ago in the furnace of one of the ancient stars that burned in the heavens about me," he wrote.
In one interview, eight years ago, Dr Mitchell said he had been aware of several UFO visits to earth, but insisted that they had been covered up.
He said that human technology lacked sophistication compared with that used by aliens, adding if the extraterrestrial visitors had been hostile "we would have been gone by now".
In an interview with Kerrang! radio, he said there was life elsewhere in the universe.
"Have we been able to identify where the other planets are?
"No, certainly not in our Solar System but we have been able to identify quite a number of planets that could be life-bearing planets," he said.
"I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena is real.
"It's been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it's leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.
"I've been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes - we have been visited."
Prior to his voicing a belief in extraterrestrials, Dr Mitchell had enjoyed a distinguished and not uneventful career at Nasa.
He had been picked to be a member of the Apollo 13 three-person crew, along with Alan Shepard.
But they were stood down until the next mission.
Apollo 13 was forced to return to earth after an oxygen tank exploded, without the astronauts - who were nearly killed - setting foot on the moon.
However the Apollo 14 mission was a success, with Dr Mitchell and Dr Shepard completing the longest-ever moon walk - which lasted exactly nine hours and 17 minutes. While Nasa hailed Dr Mitchell's contribution to space exploration, it distanced itself from his views on aliens.
"Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinions on this issue," Nasa said.