In Way Way Up High Over Pad 39A we are seeing our first Earthrise ever! It is hard to believe Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and I are 235,189 miles from home. We had lifted off from launch complex 39, Pad A, Cape Kennedy, Florida in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, just three and one half days ago and there are at least two very excellent reasons why it does not seem possible we have come this far, this fast.
The first excellent reason is that we were traveling at speeds that are difficult for most humans, including us, to really grasp. For example, after a brief eleven-minute rocket ride, we were in Earth orbit traveling at 17,431 miles per hour. Pete, Dick and I had been navy test pilots and flew high performance aircraft at high mach numbers from time to time, but mostly we flew around at about 500 miles per hour or so. Now, that is nothing to complain about, yet it is only one thirty-fifth of our Earth orbital speed.
The second excellent reason is that there were no sign posts along the way. As we sped along, we did not zip past any cities, towns, clouds, other spaceships, or anything else, for that matter. Except for the first few hours after leaving Earth orbit, the Earth did not seem to move away or get smaller, and the Moon did not seem to move toward us or get larger. If we waited an hour or so and looked out again, the Earth would look smaller . . . maybe, and the Moon would look larger . . . maybe.
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