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Sun, Earth, Moon: NASA photograph from Apollo 12

Eyes Turned Skyward: Space Quotes

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"Can I ask a question, too: aren’t you interested in the hair styles of my colleagues? My flight is my job. I feel a huge responsibility towards the people who taught and trained us and I want to tell them: we won’t let you down!"

— Yelena Serova, Russian Cosmonaut, replying to questions about her hair style and parenting her daughter right before leaving for the ISS. She launched in a Soyuz TMA-14M on 25 september 2014.

I can't live the rest of my life talking about what I did in space for 11 days."

— Yi So-yeon, Korea's first astronaut, interview with Yonhap News Agency. 23 October 2013.

After reviewing the sanctions against our [Russian space industry], [I] suggest [that the] United States deliver their astronauts to the ISS using a trampoline."

— Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, post on his Russian language Twitter account, 1 May 2014.

"For me, the most ironic token of that moment in history is the plaque signed by President Richard M. Nixon that Apollo 11 took to the Moon. It reads: 'We came in peace for all mankind.' As the United States was dropping 7.5 megatons of conventional explosives on small nations in Southeast Asia, we congratulated ourselves on our humanity: We would harm no one on a lifeless rock."

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994.

"The first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth. They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony/settlement, I call it a 'permanence'.

— Buzz Aldrin, Reddit interview, 8 July 2014.

"You can just reload, propel it and fly again. This is extremely important for revolutionizing access to space because as long as we continue to throw away rockets and space crafts, we will never truly have access to space."

— Elon Musk, SpaceX, revealing the 7 persoon Dragon V2 spacecraft, 29 May 2014.

"It sounded like a very loud vacuum cleaner behind us."

— David Mackay, chief pilot Virgin Galactic, describing the experience of flying the rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo. Interview in the New York Times, 12 May 2014.

"It’s time to get going again."

— Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, at the start of the new Cosmos TV show. First broadcast 9 March 2014.

"There are no black holes - in the sense of regimes from which light can't escape to infinity. There are however apparent horizons which persist for a period of time."

— Stephen Hawking, Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes, 22 January 2014. An article in Nature gives background on his "no black holes" claim.

"In space, race doesn't matter, nationality doesn't matter. In space, you see the world as a globe and you don't see the boundaries."

— Maggie Aderin-Pocock, the new presenter for BBC's The Sky at Night. Interview in The Guardian newspaper, 20 January 2014.

With billions of rocky worlds life would have to be extremely picky not to be able to evolve out there."

— Lisa Kaltenegger, Harvard lecturer and leader of a research group at the Max Planck Instttute for Astronomy, Time magazine, 13 January 2014.

It seems insane—so violent and loud. It's audacious that you would even think such a thing."

— Dan Winters, rocket photographer, regards launches. Wired magazine, January 2014.

"What they want is for their space suits to look cool."

— Amy Rose, NASA space-suit engineer, regards private space companies. Fortune magazine, January 13 2014.

  Astronaut Bruce McCandless during his historic MMU EVA, NASA photograph

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your Eyes Turned Skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."


It's a famous line, seen often online and in print. It's almost always in quotation marks, and it's almost always attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. But that is wrong. How could Leonardo (1452 - 1519) taste flight? I've searched for years, but have never found definitive source information for this line. National Geographic Magazine researchers told me they talked to a leading da Vinci expert who said Leonardo never wrote it. The 2007 book Leonardo on Flight by Domenico Laurenza never mentions the line. A whole chapter of the 2008 book Leonardo's Legacy by science writer Stefan Klein is devoted to da Vinci's dream of mechanical flight, yet it also never mentions the line.  Rather, it concludes "after thirty years of tireless work, Leonardo's dream of flying had reverted to what it was in the first days of his research—a flight of the imagination" (page 126).


But this "quote" holds a strong appeal to our psyche; maybe because many of us have our eyes, minds and hearts turned upward to space. So it's my title here on the internet. A place where astronomers and astronauts, dreamers and doers, share with us their best thoughts on space. And the title is also a reminder to me to be as accurate as I can in recording original source information.

I find it interesting that several other popular space quotes are also actually myths or misquotes:

+ Galileo Galilei did not mutter E pur si muove (and yet it moves) after recanting before the inquisition.

+ Neil Armstrong's That's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind line needs the a in parenthesis.

+ Apollo 13's Houston, we have a problem phrase was actually said in the past tense.

+ Flight Director Gene Kranz never said Failure is not an option.

+ Wernher von Braun never said I aim at the stars. But sometimes I hit London.

+ Peter Pan didn't say Second star on the right, and straight on till morning when the play was first performed.

+ Carl Sagan never said they were Billions and billions of stars or galaxies.

+ Konstantin E. Tsiokovsky didn't exactly say Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.

+ Captain James T. Kirk (of the Starship Enterprise) never said Beam me up, Scotty in the TV series or in any of the movies.


Want to delve deeper into longer works? Want to read more than a few sentences? There is a fantastic book in print that has reprints of 100 seminal original papers from the history of astronomy all introduced, arranged and edited perfectly: Archives of the Universe, by Marcia Bartusia.


"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."

— Arthur C Clarke, The View from Serendip, page 238, 1977.

Reading, dreaming and thinking about crazy space ideas has already resulted in us driving a car on the Moon and sending probes flying out of our Solar System. My hope is that this compendium of man's first-hand thoughts on the universe around us will inspire much more exploration and understanding. You are welcome to help, please email me or visit space quotes on facebook, app.net & the twitterverse with additions, corrections, original sources or any other thoughts. I hope you enjoy this collection, and walk the Earth with your mind and eyes turned skyward.


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