IONS Founder Edgar Mitchell


IONS Founder Edgar Mitchell



Edgar Mitchell, ScD, PhD.

Traveling back to Earth, having just walked on the moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell had an experience for which nothing in his life had prepared him. As he approached the planet we know as home, he was filled with an inner conviction as certain as any mathematical equation he'd ever solved. He knew that the beautiful blue world to which he was returning is part of a living system, harmonious and whole—and that we all participate, as he expressed it later, "in a universe of consciousness."

Trained as an engineer and scientist, Captain Mitchell was most comfortable in the world of rationality and physical precision. Yet the understanding that came to him as he journeyed back from space felt just as trustworthy—it represented another way of knowing.

This experience radically altered his worldview: Despite science's superb technological achievements, he realized that we had barely begun to probe the deepest mystery of the universe—the fact of consciousness itself. He became convinced that the uncharted territory of the human mind was the next frontier to explore, and that it contained possibilities we had hardly begun to imagine. Within two years of his expedition, Edgar Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973.

Since it's founding, Dr. Mitchell actively served on the board of directors of the Institute. He is the author of The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey Through the Material and Mystical WorldsandPsychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science, Understanding the Nature and Power of Consciousness.

Learn more about Edgar's inspiring vision and how it manifested in the world in this recent blog by IONS President/CEO Cassandra Vieten. If you would like to make a donation to carry on Edgar's legacy, please consider the Founder's Fund.



On March 19th, 2011 Edgar Mitchell spoke with a group of high school students at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.



Jean Houston

Dear Friends,

I mourn with so many others, the passing of my old friend, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man on the moon. He lived valiantly and deeply in both inner and outer worlds. Many years ago he came to our home, then in Pomona, New York to have my husband and I help him remember what he saw on the moon. The moon walks had so many jobs and requirements that it was thought that important information and perceptions might be missing. We induced a deep trance and had him repeat his experience. He said that this had helped his recall, as in re-living the experience in an altered state, he picked up more subtle details that he had missed. But then he added, that what was also of great importance is what he saw in the flight back to Earth. Looking out of the port hole he saw the living Earth herself, so beautiful, it's greens and blues and silver, floating in the womb of the cosmos. There were no separate nations to be discerned, no war, no hatred, no divisions of any kind--just one incredibly beautiful world of which humanity was a part. It was at this point that he began hls lifelong commitment to exploring the inner space of humans so that we could grow up and become worthy of our Earth home. It was then too,tthere in our living room, that we explored the possibility of creating a center where the inner space of our minds and hearts, the great range of human capacities and capacities of consciousness could be explored. This conversation and others with like minded people resulted in the creation of IONS-the Institute of Noetic Scienc where the frontiers of human consciousness are discerned and developed.

Before leaving our home, Mitchell announced, "You know, Jean, I went up to the moon as an astronaut. I have returned as a psychenaut."

Dear Ed, wherever you are traveling now, I hope you are reveling in other spaces, infinite dimensions.

We love you. We'll miss you.

Barbara Marx Hubbard

Dear Ones: We are all so deeply touched by the life of Edgar Mitchell. In so many ways he opened up the path for the conscious evolution of humanity, in all that he did.

The lunar landing, the view from space which opened his heart and consciousness, founding IONS, sighting and verifying his experience of extraterretstials publically, research the deepest mysteries of science and consciousness, being ever loving and gracious.

He has been a friend to me from the beginning of my public life.

I remember when I first meet him, after he returned from the Moon and I hadfounded The Foundation for Conscious Evolution.

He said to me in sharing his new experience with IONS. "Barbara, it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the next. You do not see where the foot will land, but you just put it down and the landing comes up!

Love to all,

Austin Marx

I was privileged to be on the early IONS board for 17 years and got to know the intellect and caring of this wonderful Founder personally. His dedication to healing and preserving our beautiful planet was obvious and passionate, along with his many other talents and inspiration.

My hero. Go peacefully Ed.

James O'Dea

Edgar was a dear friend, a true colleague, a great visionary and a person of the highest integrity. He understood that love is the greatest force in the universe. I am quite sure he has in no way ceased his explorations. He is in a place of the deepest awe. I love you Edgar. Your spirit shines bright. love and peace,


John Perkins

Edgar Mitchell was a true evolutionary hero. The day after his partner on the moon, Alan Shepard, died in 1998 he asked me to spend time with him on his farm in Florida. He was very sad about Alan's death and the ending of what he saw as an era of brave exploration into the frontier of space. He showed me the camera he used on the moon, the watch, and other instruments. We were both amused by how large and cumbersome everything was, pre-digital. I recall him joking about how future space explorers would probably be "cyber humans." 

Edgar's presence was an amazing bridge between the eagle and the condor, science and art, the rational and intuitive. His spirit will live on to help us all explore the vastness of the Consciousness Revolution that we are experiencing and our own evolutionary leadership roles.  

Sending love to Edgar and to all of us who are left with a more conscious world because of the bridges he built.


Marilyn Schlitz

Edgar Mitchell was one of the most influential people in my life. Having read his book, Psychic Exploration, in 1977, my career path was launched. After years of research in consciousness studies, I was recruited by the Institute of Noetic Sciences to lead their research programs. I had the honor to work directly with Edgar. We convened meetings about Quantum Holography, psi research, and states of consciousness. His work touches my life. More importantly, it was Edgar as a person that inspired. Humble, kind and curious, he always had time for my questions or concerns. He never failed to show deep interest in my son, always asking after his "little buddy." He will be missed. As he makes his way into the quantum field, his trail blazing spirit lives on in my heart and the lives of all those he inspires in so many ways. With love, I offer these clips from an interview I did with Edgar on the topic of death and the potential afterlife. His was a fulfilled life!

Diane Temple

There is so much I could comment on in great detail but let it suffice to say that both Paul and I feel it has been an enormous privilege to be part of helping Ed fulfill his vision for the Institute of Noetic Sciences and see it grow.  In the first 42 years IONS has made a significant impact on expanding humankind’s understanding of consciousness and the congruence between “inner and outer space”.  This exploration has been paradigm changing, exciting and fun.  It is also proving to be a great blessing to both individuals and society at large.

We know this journey shall continue as the world keeps waking up to a deeper awareness of who we are and what our potential is.  We salute and thank our Captain who will no doubt find a way to continue to inspire us in the years ahead from his now more liberated and expansive perspective.

Lynne Twist

Ed was a mentor, a visionary, a gentleman, a genius, a lover of life, and a pioneer on every level of reality and a true explorer of what it means to be a fully realized human being. I honor and cherish his memory and feel deeply honored to have known him and worked with him at IONS May we live up to his memory, commitment and vision.

Love to all,