Earth is a “jewel hanging in the darkness of space,” says Charlie Duke –

Charlie Duke is one of the last four surviving astronauts to walk on the Moon. The Americans, along with other figures from the conquest of space, are visiting Lausanne this weekend as part of “Legends of Space” at the EPFL. Despite crossing eighty waterfalls, memories of his lunar voyage with Apollo 16 in 1972 still remain intact.

Stars still come in Charlie Duke’s eyes when he sees the Earth from space. Many astronauts call it this: we no longer see Earth the same way we saw it “from there”. The same is the case for Charlie Duke: “When I looked up and saw the earth, from there, about 400,000 kilometers away from us, it took my breath away!”

He describes it as “a jewel of beauty, suspended in the blackness of space”. What impressed him the most? “The fact of not seeing the boundaries, just the planet”, he testifies in the forum on Thursday. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin said it was a “beautiful desolation”.

>> Also consult our large format on First Steps on the Moon: the moon fantasy

“You have a sense of belonging to this place, not a supernatural being, you recognize landscapes. It’s like being back in Lausanne: a feeling of being at home. It was that feeling that settled us”, continues Charlie Duke .

Apollo 16 mission astronaut Charlie Duke, photographed in 1971. nasa afp [NASA – AFP]

over 70 hours on the moon

Charlie Duke and John Young will stay on the Moon for 71 hours and perform three spacewalks with the rover, scraping and digging the surface with a shovel and rake. Thus, they will collect about 100 kg samples of lunar rocks which will be brought back to Earth.

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Prior to this, Charlie Duke was also a reserve pilot for Apollo 13, known for the explosion that led to his return to Earth. A week before the mission, he got measles.

Ken Mattingly, who was part of the core crew, has been replaced – NASA fears he will get sick once in space. The two astronauts will eventually meet and fly together on Apollo 16.

>> Also listen to the topic “How We’ll Walk on the Moon Again” by CQFD:

How will we walk on the moon again? /cqfd/26 min. / February 8, 2022

Interviewed by Alexandra Richard and Bastian Confino / Vajo

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