Skip to comments.Astronaut Awe-Struck (praises "Mother Earth"; uses tobacco in pagan pre-flight purification ritual)
Posted on 12/01/2002 4:40:24 PM PST by gg188
Astronaut Was Awe-Struck During Spacewalk
The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Dec. 1 After completing three spacewalks in five days, astronaut John Herrington got a chance to relax Sunday and reflect on what it was like to hurtle around Earth at 17,500 mph outside his spaceship.
He couldn't help but think: "That's a loooong way down."
Herrington said he was somewhat intimidated by the fact that at any moment, he might find himself in uncontrollable motion and break away from the international space station, which would be "a bad thing."
"So I was always constantly on guard that I was maintaining the best control I could and that I had my proper tether protocol," he said. "But it was very awe-inspiring. It's a beautiful sight to look down and see the Earth from this altitude."
Herrington, the first American Indian in space and a member of the Chickasaw Nation, helped NASA get a stalled space station railcar moving again during his final spacewalk of the mission Saturday. In his two earlier outings, he helped install a $390 million station girder that was delivered by space shuttle Endeavour.
His one-week visit to the space station will end Monday afternoon, when Endeavour undocks and heads back to Earth for a Wednesday touchdown. The shuttle will return three former space station residents who have been in orbit since early June.
In an interview with Indian Country Today, Herrington said the first time he looked out Endeavour's windows after blasting off Nov. 23, he was amazed at how massive the Earth was and how minute the atmosphere. It made him realize "how insignificant we are in the great scheme of things."
"In the spiritual sense, it makes me appreciate how grand the grand scheme is of Mother Earth," he said.
Herrington said he carefully chose a variety of American Indian objects to take into space eagle feathers, wooden flutes, arrowheads, braided sweet grass "that I think represents a lot of the spiritual sense that we all feel."
He wanted to take tobacco, too, because of its purifying value, but NASA said no. The 44-year-old astronaut, a Navy pilot, said he recognized NASA's position on banning tobacco aboard spacecraft, but noted: "A lot of folks don't realize that we do use it in a spiritual sense."
In fact, just before launch, Herrington said he and a good friend "smudged" outside NASA crew quarters, waving smoke from burning leaves onto themselves for purification.
Herrington said flying in space and doing productive work up there probably is the most fulfilling thing he's ever done in his career.
1. Imagine if a CHRISTIAN had wanted to puff a cigarette before taking off into space...Imagine a Christian speaking of Jesus as this guy speaks of "Mother Earth"...
2. What a shame that pagan symbols, mythology and stone-age shamanism crap gets mixed up with the space program of our great nation...
3. SMOKERS (I am not one): you may now claim a SPIRITUAL use of tobacco that should relieve you of the persecution by the left! When the left gets on you for smoking, point out that you are using tobacco in a SPIRITUAL manner.
I mean, if someone can claim that a wooden flute is "spiritual", why not a softpack of Marlboros?
What part of "...make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" do you not agree with?
Remember Gus Grisom bring along a bunch of trinkets so that they would be "valuable" upon their return?
THe guy smudges with sage prior to lift off to ensure good luck. Hey, why not...rockets are not a sure thing, so why not all the good luck?
Mayhaps ya might take yurself a gander at that there Great Seal of the United States.
Heck, Buzz Aldrin took a cup and a wafer. The first thing he did after he and Armstrong landed on the surface of the moon was take communion...
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