Mitchell, Edgar D. (1930– )
American astronaut with an active interest in parapsychology.
Born September 17, 1930, at Hereford, Texas, he was educated
at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He entered the
U.S. Navy in 1952 and was commissioned a year later. After
flight training, he was assigned to Patrol Squadron 29 in Okinawa
and flew aircraft on carrier duty and with a heavy attack
squadron.
He studied for his doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics
at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became chief of
the project management division of the Navy Field Office for
Manned Orbiting Laboratory (1964). He later attended Air
Force Aerospace Research Pilot School. He was selected by
NASA as an astronaut in April 1966 and was lunar module pilot
of Apollo 14, which landed on the moon February 5, 1971.
His interest in parapsychology dated from 1967, soon after
his arrival at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.
He was dissatisfied with orthodox theology and began to investigate
areas of psychic phenomena and mysticism. In December
1969 Mitchell became friendly with medium Arthur Ford,
who suggested an interesting ESP test from a man in a rocket
to a contact on earth.
Mitchell planned a rocket-to-earth ESP test for the Apollo
14 mission, although Ford died January 4, 1971, 27 days before
the mission launch (to which he had been invited as Mitchell’s
guest). NASA had rejected a telepathy experiment planned by
the American Society for Psychical Research in 1970, so
Mitchell’s test was a private affair in his own rest periods. The
tests involved the transmission of symbols associated with a
range of chosen numbers. Eminent parapsychologists J. B.
Rhine of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man
and Karlis Osis of the ASPR offered cooperation in evaluating
the test. The results of the test were ambiguous.
After being the sixth man to walk on the moon, Mitchell was
a member of the backup crew of further lunar probes. He retired
from NASA and the navy in 1972. His second wife, Anita,
whom Mitchell married in 1973 after a divorce, shared his interest
in parapsychology. In the same year Mitchell founded
the Institute of Noetic Sciences for the study of human consciousness
and mindbody relationships. He has headed the institute
ever since.
Among the projects supported by the institute were the efforts
of Andrija Puharich to test Uri Geller, and supervised experiments
with Geller at Stanford Research Institute.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Mitchell, E. D., ed. Psychic Exploration A Challenge for Science.
New York G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1974.