Voices from the Moon

What it was like, in the astronauts’ own words.

Dick Gordon, Apollo 12 Command Module Pilot


[Entering Earth’s atmosphere] is a very dynamic situation—a lot of monitoring, a lot of activity. And it’s over very, very rapidly, too. You separate that service module, and you orient yourself to hit the atmosphere….Christ, it’s over in, what, eight minutes?...You’ve oriented yourself heads-down coming across that South Pacific, and you’re really moving. I mean, you can really tell….[During] translunar injection, you’re oriented in such a way that you’re really not seeing the Earth go by; you can’t see it. But in reentry, you can. Coming back in, with your head down, you can look out that window, the side window, and you’re really smokin’. Goddang, you’re really moving. Those damn islands in the South Pacific are going by like—unreal.

(Photo: Apollo 8 enters the Earth's atmosphere, photographed by an airborne tracking camera.)

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