“The Falcon is on the Plain at Hadley.” These were the first words heard back on Earth when Dave Scott and Jim Irwin made their landing in July 1971. Falcon had alighted them on a scientific bonanza. As Dave looked around from Falcon’s overhead hatch, he hought, “No place on Earth has such a concentration of features.”There were mountains taller than Everest (relative to their surroundings) and a meandering gorge a mile across, a thousand feet deep and seventy miles long.
Lunar exploration had come a long way since Neil and Buzz made their first moonwalk just two years earlier. Dave and Jim had the lunar rover, a moon car that would make possible five times the total surface exploration of the three previous missions combined; and they had improved space suit backpacks which allowed them to stay outside their spacecraft nearly twice as long as any of us who had flown earlier.
I have painted Dave Scott, a good friend and skilled explorer, at the pinnacle of his astronaut career. In his own words, “We went to the Moon as trained observers in order to gather data, not only with our instruments on board, but also with our minds. Plutarch, a wise man who lived a long time ago, expressed the feelings of the crew of Apollo 15 when he wrote ‘the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted.’”