Flamsteed Astronomy Society

Astronaut David Scott, May 10, 2004

From Martin Male who was at David Scott’s talk and book signing at Herstmonceux

A small number of Flamsteed members were among those attending a sell out short talk by Dave Scott, Apollo15 Commander, at the Science Centre at Herstmonceux on the evening of Monday May 10.


The event was organized by a well-known bookstore chain, so there were ample opportunities to buy a copy of the book just published about Dave Scott and his Soviet counterpart, Alexi Leonov. Dave Scott was around to sign copies at the end of the evening.


Dave Scott spoke for about 15 minutes on how the book came to be written, and the friendship that exists between Leonov and himself. Scott, in his early seventies, now lives in London and looks every inch the part: tall, slim, fit and intellectually “firing on all four”. He is an excellent speaker and comes across as witty and intelligent, not at all brash.


The proprietor of the Science Centre then interviewed Scott about his early career as a fighter pilot and his flight on Gemini 8 with Neil Armstrong. This was nearly the last flight either of them made, as their capsule developed a fault that made it spin at the alarming rate of 1rotation per second. This could have had fatal consequences, but for Armstrong’s quick reactions that sorted the problem out. Scott joked that they still hold the record for landing furthest from the recovery fleet – six thousand miles from their intended target area!


He spoke about his three days on the Moon near Hadley Rille with Jim Irwin, who died of heart problems in 1991. He related how they slept in the Lunar Module with a special blind in the window – remember that its daylight for 14 Earth days on the Moon. When they opened the blind after a good nights sleep, still a bit groggy as one is, he said the view outside really woke them up – Wow! We really ARE on the Moon!


All too soon the interview was over and Jane and I waited in line to have our copy of Scott’s book signed. When we reached the head of the queue, he shook hands with me. I asked him the significance of the rather large ring he wore. He smiled shyly and said it was a West Point Graduation ring. They don’t give those away either!


Martin Male