Within weeks of space shuttle Endeavour landing for a last time, having returned from its final mission and the next to last for NASA's 30-year shuttle program, the first astronaut to pilot a spacecraft named Endeavour
will release his long awaited memoirs on the 40th anniversary of his flight.
In Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut's Journey to the Moon
(Smithsonian Books, July 2011), Al Worden, with co- author Francis French, shares the untold story of his rising adventure on board the United States' fourth lunar landing mission followed by his fall from grace upon arriving home on Earth.
Before chronicling his memories in prose however, Worden captured his thoughts in poetry, as he told collectSPACE.
"In Houston, in the weeks after [Apollo 15], we were doing tough engineering debriefings all day. I was exhausted and so overtired that I could not sleep well," recalled Worden.
"So I would sit in my living room in the middle of the night, my brain going a mile a minute, grab some old legal pads and just start writing. It came very freely," he said.
"I wasn't really thinking about it, I'd just write stuff down, reliving the flight. It was my own personal debriefing about what I saw and felt, on a much deeper, more personal level than the formal work during the day."
"Much of that writing was published a few years later in my poetry book "Hello Earth: Greetings From Endeavour," said Worden.
Other poems stayed in his files, remaining hidden away for years.
While writing Falling to Earth,
Worden again came across a previously unpublished poem. He decided to dust it off and include it as a bonus with his autographed memoirs when ordered through Farthest Reaches
, an online space history memorabilia dealer with whom he previously worked.
"This poem is about the incredible experience of launching on the Saturn V," shared Worden. "You are the first people ever to read it."
Rising From Earth
Above: Worden's "Rising from Earth" as included with the orders of "Falling to Earth" through Farthest Reaches. The poem will be autographed by Worden for those who order.
A vibration, a roar
Shaking, rattling we lift
We climb on plumes of thunder
Into a rising sun
And away from reality
Goodbye my friends
You are gone
The whole world has gone
On a trip
But this must be finished
Faster, faster, can’t turn back
Insignificant, I am insignificant
Lights flash, panel moves
Floating in nothingness
Then softly, softly,
The movement begins again
Push up the switch
And suddenly light everywhere
Earth is floating aimlessly, serenely
Peopled, I know, by intelligent life
Man is ever driven on
Vision greater than deed
Floating so far
Extending the realm of man
Born again in light of day
And everything is suddenly right.
Looking back on his own first (and last) flight aboard a ship named Endeavour,
Worden reflected on the final flight of the spacecraft with the same title. "The name Endeavour already had a proud history of exploration when the crew of Apollo 15 chose it as the name for the command module. On this fortieth anniversary year of our flight, it's a proud but sad moment to see space shuttle Endeavour make its very last flight."
"I suspect this won't be the last time a spacecraft uses the name, and one day excited spectators will once again fill the area around the Cape to witness an Endeavour
take to the heavens."