A large and personal archive of personal papers from Apollo 15 Lunar Module pilot and moonwalker James Irwin. Collection includes portions of his handwritten manuscript for his book, speech notes and corrections, biblical quotes, travel itineraries, and presentation notes, some correspondence to and from Irwin, as well as newspaper clippings, magazine articles, clipped photos, and approximately four years of daily planners, well used by Irwin to track his day-to-day activities.
The focal point of the archive is the 80 pages of handwritten manuscript, some of which was the inspiration for portions of More Than Earthlings, on 8.5 x 11 lined yellow sheets. Irwin has filled most of the sheets continuing on the reverse on many of the pages. In these pages, Irwin writes of his mission, his family, his faith, the Apollo 15 cover scandal, and life after NASA. The manuscript includes the following excerpts:
In response to the question, “Is there color on the moon,” Irwin writes: “We saw the moon from afar and also very close. As we flew to the moon, it was completely dark—new moon. On the backside, we fired the rocket engine to slow us down…We saw the moon just 60 miles below us and it was awesome. There were mountains, valleys, wide plains and craters everywhere…There were the long shadows typical of the terminator conditions…When Dave and I arrived on the surface, we were surprised at the variety of color…From the front window of the lunar module, we could see a coal black rock sitting on the surface. The next day when we made our grand entrance on the moon surface, we collected that black rock. We found the pure white rock on the slope of the Appenine Mts and shortly after that discovery I announced the green rocks. So we did not find any green cheese there, but we did find green rocks.”
-”Why land in the water when the Soviets recover on land?” “First I should point out that we can recover on land if that is absolutely necessary…The spacecraft could withstand the landing shock and they say the crew could also bear the shock. When the Apollo concept was developed, we were a little concerned about booster capability. We knew if the command module was designed for primarily water impact, the craft could be designed much lighter. Then there is the concern about a flat area for recovery. The Soviets have a vast area, but we do not have that much flat area other than the wheat fields of the mid-west. I can imagine the reaction of a farmer if we landed a red hot sizzling command module in his wheat or corn field. There is a feeling of confidence when returning from the moon and knowing that you have the entire Pacific Ocean to aim for.”
A notated typed transcript reads, in part: “Col. Irwin, what does it feel like in space?…Being on the surface of the moon did feel much different than being on earth. I had the sense of belonging there and feeling much at home. I felt light because of the new environment where gravity is only 1/6. The physical sensation was similar to being on a trampoline. Directly overhead was the earth. It was a half earth and about the size of a marble. It was a blue jewel in the blackness of space and seemed so far away.”
“How do you feel when you look at the moon? I do regard it differently since I was there. When it is full, I can easily spot Hadley Base…I can easily see where I spent my vacation in the summer of 1971. As I gaze at the moon, I feel a part of it because part of me is still there.”
Irwin also writes several pages regarding the controversy of the unauthorized covers carried on board the mission. In part: “We were accused after the flight of taking unauthorized items. This subject is worthy of an entire chapter in this book…Since there was such great interest in the envelopes, we decided to carry an additional quantity…We had done our part and now we were relying on the Germans to do their part. What a shock!…the news headlines announced that Apollo 15 astronauts had carried envelopes that were now on sale for $1000 each. Imagine our reaction!…The fat, our fat, was in the fire!…Deke was angry…We had been thrown to the lions…I am convinced that our unauthorized envelopes were the result of oversight by those assigned to inventory flight albums.”
Irwin also provides a handwritten list of his PPK items, including what he carried with him in the pocket of his spacesuit, a second kit on the lunar module that was never transferred back to the command module and therefore impacted on the moon after jettison, the whirlwind publicity tour after their landing, his ticker tape parade after the mission, his religious beliefs, and many other interesting topics in the manuscript.
Other items included in the archive are: two color 10 x 8 NASA photos of Irwin on the lunar surface, each signed in black felt tip and bearing a pre-printed sentiment; carbons of correspondence between Irwin and the National Transportation Safety Board attempting to obtain his airman medical certification and the subsequent appeals after being denied due to his heart condition; several pages of handwritten biblical quotations; other hand-notated speech typescripts and notes, including quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Ray Bradbury, William Penn, Henry Lee, Wernher von Braun, and Plato; a telegram sent to Irwin inviting him to the Apollo 4 test; an unsigned handwritten letter of thanks for sent flowers; filled-in daily planners for 1973, and 76–78; and lots of clipped news articles, photos, newsletters, and magazine articles.
A spectacular collection of firsthand information and opinions from the moonwalker, worthy of much further research. Pre-certified Steve Zarelli and RR Auction COA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.