File photo of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage
File photo of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage Reuters

A retired astronaut from NASA recently opened up about a mishap he encountered during the agency's Apollo 15 mission to the moon. The former astronaut said he has been keeping his experience a secret ever since he returned to Earth from his lunar mission.

Alfred Worden officially joined NASA as an astronaut in 1966. In 1971, he took on the role of the command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission. It served as NASA fourth mission under the Apollo program to land on the Moon. For the mission, Worden stayed in lunar orbited as he piloted the Apollo command module while his crewmates James Irwin and David Scott explored the Moon's surface.

During his time inside the command module, Worden said that he encountered an issue that startled him. As noted by Worden, the seats of the module were installed on top of shock absorbers that were on a swivel. As he fired up the engines of the module to orbit the Moon, the vibration from the spacecraft caused the seat he was on to turn away from the control panel.

Moonlanding
Can crops be grown on the moon? CC0 public domain

"When I fired the engine to circularize, and I forget how many feet per second I had to add, instead of looking at the instrument panel I was suddenly looking out the left window," he said according to Express. "Because when I ignited the engine, that couch because of Newton went like this and now I'm looking out the side window. You talk about freaked out. I was really freaked because I could not reach a single control."

Fortunately, Worden noted that the spacecraft's computer systems started operating properly and he was able to return to the module's control panel. According to Worden, he never opened up about his harrowing experience aboard the command module until now. Since he's already retired from NASA, he said that he can now freely talk about the issue he encountered during the mission without being reprimanded by the space agency.

"So thank God the computer worked and it stopped at the right time and I was ok," Worden said. I never told anyone that, only 45 years later I dare and even try to mention that. They can't do anything to me now."