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Who said: “Dangerous... to take shelter under a tree, during a thunder-gust. It has been fatal to many, both men and beasts.”
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Astronaut Quotes (32 quotes)


Dogbert: So, Since Columbus is dead, you have no evidence that the earth is round.
Dilbert: Look. You can Ask Senator John Glenn. He orbited the earth when he was an astronaut.
Dogbert: So, your theory depends on the honesty of politicians.
Dilbert: Yes... no, wait...
Dilbert comic strip (10 Oct 1989).
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Although as a boy I had dreamed about going into space, I had completely forgotten about that until one day I received a call from an astronaut, who suggested that I should join the program.
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As soon as the art of Flying is Found out, some of their Nation will make one of the first Colonies, that shall Transplant into that other World.
In A Discovery of a New World, Or, a Discourse: Tending to Prove, that 'tis Probable There May Be Another Habitable World in the Moon (1638, 1684), 159.
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Conflicts between men are almost always a matter of frontiers. The astronauts now have destroyed what looked like an unsurmountable frontier. They have shown us that we cannot any longer think in limited terms. There are no limitations left. We can think in terms of the universe now.
In 'Reactions to Man’s Landing on the Moon Show Broad Variations in Opinions', The New York Times (21 Jul 1969), 6.
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Even though I didn't make it to the moon, my machines did.
As quoted in Myrna Oliver, 'Obituary: Albert Hibbs, 78; JPL Scientist, Voice of Unmanned Missions', Los Angeles Times (27 Feb 2003) repeating the statement previously published in 2001. Hibbs referred to the Ranger and Surveyor spacecrafts for which he was a systems designer. He had passed physical and psychological testing as a candidate to be an astronaut, but the Apollo moon-landing program was canceled before he was placed for a flight.
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Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.
Plaque left on the moon, 20 Jul 1969.
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I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.
Address to Joint Session of Congress, on Urgent National Needs (25 May 1961). On web site of John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Also in Vital Speeches of the Day (15 Jun 1961), Vol. 27, No. 17, 518-9.
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I didn’t really decide that I wanted to be an astronaut for sure until the end of college. But even in elementary school and junior high, I was very interested in space and in the space program. I had both male and female heroes. One was a high school science teacher who was very important in encouraging me to pursue science. Because I was a tennis player, Billie Jean King was a hero of mine. And the early astronauts, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, were heroes of mine as well.
Interview conducted on Scholastic website (20 Nov 1998).
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I don’t think many people remember what life was like in those days. This was the era when the Russians were claiming superiority, and they could make a pretty good case—they put up Sputnik in ’57; they had already sent men into space to orbit the earth. There was this fear that perhaps communism was the wave of the future. The astronauts, all of us, really believed we were locked in a battle of democracy versus communism, where the winner would dominate the world.
As reported by Howard Wilkinson in 'John Glenn Had the Stuff U.S. Heroes are Made of', The Cincinnati Enquirer (20 Feb 2002).
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I felt an awesome responsibility, and I took the responsibility very seriously, of being a role model and opening another door to black Americans, but the important thing is not that I am black, but that I did a good job as a scientist and an astronaut. There will be black astronauts flying in later missions … and they, too, will be people who excel, not simply who are black … who can ably represent their people, their communities, their country.
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I had no books as a child. I had real machines, and I went out to work in the fields. I was driving farm machinery at five, and fixing it at age seven or eight. It’s no accident that I worked on Hubble 50 to 60 years later. My books were nature; it was very important to how I related to the Earth, and the Earth from space. No doubt when I go into space, I go back into the cool soil of Earth. I’m always thinking of it. Nature was my book. Other people come from that tradition - Emerson, Thoreau, and especially Whitman. Look at what they said in their philosophy - go out and have a direct relationship with nature.
When asked by Discover magazine what books helped inspire his passion as an astronaut.
'The 1998 Discover Science Gift Guide: Fantastic Voyages Children's Books That Mattered', Discover (Dec 1998).
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I remember growing up thinking that astronauts and their job was the coolest thing you could possibly do... But I absolutely couldn’t identify with the people who were astronauts. I thought they were movie stars.
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I think that the two things that almost any astronaut would describe [as most fun about being in space] are the weightlessness and the view of Earth. Weightlessness is just a lot of fun!
Interview conducted on Scholastic website (20 Nov 1998).
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I'm sure we would not have had men on the Moon if it had not been for Wells and Verne and the people who write about this and made people think about it. I'm rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books.
Address to US Congress, 1975. Science and Technology Committee, United States Congress, House, Future Space Programs, 1975, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications (1975), 206. Also in Arthur C. ClarkeThe View from Serendip (1977), 238.
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If we consider our earth as a spaceship and the earthly astronauts as the crew of that spaceship, I would say wars can be analogous to mutinies aboard the ship.
From Testimony to Third Plenary Session (28 Jan 1971). In Panel on Science and Technology, Twelfth Meeting, International Science Policy, Proceedings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 26, 27, and 28, 1971. No. 1 (1971), 330.
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So much goes into doing a transplant operation. All the way from preparing the patient, to procuring the donor. It's like being an astronaut. The astronaut gets all the credit, he gets the trip to the moon, but he had nothing to do with the creation of the rocket, or navigating the ship. He's the privileged one who gets to drive to the moon. I feel that way in some of these more difficult operations, like the heart transplant.
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So there he is at last. Man on the moon. The poor magnificent bungler! He can't even get to the office without undergoing the agonies of the damned, but give him a little metal, a few chemicals, some wire and twenty or thirty billion dollars and, vroom! there he is, up on a rock a quarter of a million miles up in the sky.
[Written when the first manned mission to the Moon, Apollo 11, landed (20 Jul 1969).]
'Why on Earth Are We There? Because It's Impossible', New York Times (21 Jul 1969), 17.
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That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
[Transmission received and heard as “That’s one small step for man… one giant leap for mankind.”]
Said as he stepped onto the Moon at 10.56 (G.M.T) on July 21st 1969. However, this is often misquoted as “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This was due to static during Armstrong's transmission to earth. The 'a' was left out of his statement, ruining the contrast he had made between one man 'a man' and all mankind 'man'. Quoted in Nature, 1974, 250, 451. Information on the frequent misuse of this quote is given in Paul F. Boller and John George (eds.), They Never Said it: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes and Misleading Attributions (1989), 4-5.
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The astronauts go to the moon, and what do they do?
They collect rocks, they lope around like they are stoned, and they hit a golf ball and they plant a flag. … All that technology to get to the moon, and what do we do—we play golf. … The moon walk was out of sight, wasn’t it?
With one giant step mankind took banality out of America and into the Cosmos. …
In 'Appearing Nightly,' (1980) [See Neil Armstrong].
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The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors. … In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring idealism, we will miss them all the more. … The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.
Address to the Nation on the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, from the Cabinet Room (1 Feb 2003). In William J. Federer, A Treasury of Presidential Quotations (2004), 437.
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The great thing about being an astronaut is you kind of get to do a little bit of everything. I mean, we’re going to ride a rocket uphill.
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The Lunar landing of the astronauts is more than a step in history; it is a step in evolution.
Editorial, New York Times (20 Jul 1969).
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The success of Apollo was mainly due to the fact that the project was conceived and honestly presented to the public as an international sporting event and not as a contribution to science. The order of priorities in Apollo was accurately reflected by the first item to be unloaded after each landing on the Moon's surface, the television camera. The landing, the coming and going of the astronauts, the exploring of the moon's surface, the gathering of Moon rocks and the earthward departure, all were expertly choreographed with the cameras placed in the right positions to make a dramatic show on television. This was to me the great surprise of the Apollo missions. There was nothing surprising in the fact that astronauts could walk on the Moon and bring home Moon rocks. There were no big scientific surprises in the chemistry of the Moon rocks or in the results of magnetic and seismic observations that the astronauts carried out. The big surprise was the quality of the public entertainment that the missions provided. I had never expected that we would see in real time astronauts hopping around in lunar gravity and driving their Rover down the Lincoln- Lee scarp to claim a lunar speed record of eleven miles per hour. Intensive television coverage was the driving force of Apollo. Von Braun had not imagined the possibilities of television when he decided that one kilohertz would be an adequate communication bandwidth for his Mars Project.
From a Danz lecture at University of Washington, 'Sixty Years of Space Science 1958-2018' (1988), collected in From Eros to Gaia (1992), Vol. 5, 52.
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The thoughts of Plato and Machiavelli... don't seem quite enough armor for a world beset with splitting the atoms, urban guerrillas, nineteen varieties of psychotherapists, amplified guitars, napalm, computers, astronauts, and an atmosphere polluted simultaneously with auto exhaust and TV commercials.
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There are now several women astronauts who have a test pilot background, and that was not true for a long time. For quite some time, women at NASA only had scientific backgrounds. So it would’ve been impossible to have an all-women crew because there weren’t women pilots. But now it would be very possible!
Interview conducted on Scholastic website (20 Nov 1998).
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We astronauts, we don’t really refer to it as blasting off because that sounds pretty uncontrollable. During the launch we call it launching.
Replying to a Whetstone High School students’ question during a school forum held using a downlink with the Discovery Space Shuttle mission (31 Oct 1998). On NASA web page 'STS-95 Educational Downlink'. Mubarak Abdurraqib, David Tynan, Keith Smith asked, “Commander Brown, when blasting off, do you actually feel the inertia?”
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We fooled ourselves into thinking this thing wouldn’t crash. When I was in astronaut training I asked, “what is the likelihood of another accident?” The answer I got was: one in 10,000, with an asterisk. The asterisk meant, “we don’t know.”
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We wanted to fly. We also had such big egos that we felt that we could fly the crates they shipped these things in. We honestly felt that, with things that were wrong, we always had a mental workaround on them.
Rejecting concern about Apollo spacecraft safety. From interview with Ron Stone (24 May 1999) for NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project.
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What is it, that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle, such as a Redstone, Atlas, Titan or Saturn rocket, and wait for someone to light the fuse? (1979)
Tom Wolfe
The Right Stuff (2001), xiii.
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When I was … a teenager … like, 14, … the space program was getting started, and I wanted to be an astronaut. I wrote to NASA and I said, “What do I have to do to be prepared to be an astronaut?” And they wrote back and said, “Thank you very much but we’re not taking girls.” … That thankfully changed with Sally Ride and a lot of the other great women astronauts.
At Town Hall Meeting, Dover, New Hampshire (16 Jul 2015). As quoted in Clare Foran, 'Hillary Clinton: I Wanted to Be an Astronaut', National Journal (16 Jul 2015).
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Which is an astronaut’s favorite key on a computer keyboard?
The space bar.
Anonymous
Origin uncertain, but in circulation at least as early as by Chris Salemka, in 'Think & Grin', Boy’s Life (Mar 1995), 61.
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[Lifting off into space] I wasn’t really scared. I was very excited, and I was very anxious. When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen. So most astronauts getting ready to lift off are excited and very anxious and worried about that explosion—because if something goes wrong in the first seconds of launch, there's not very much you can do.
Interview conducted on Scholastic website (20 Nov 1998).
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
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- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
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- 20 -
Carl Sagan
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- 10 -
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