APOLLO 14: AMERICA PRESSES ON AFTER THE NEAR TRAGEDY OF APOLLO 13.
Photo Credit: Edgar Mitchell photo of Alan Shepard on the lunar surface: CLICK for larger image and see below for information and links.
“Shepard back in space…”
On January 31, 1971 at 21:03 UTC (16:03 EST) the overcast afternoon calm was disrupted as a Saturn V rocket (AS-509) thundered off from Kennedy Space Center; Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). It carried with it the first American in space, Commander Alan B. Shepard Jr, Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell en-route to the Moon, destined to become the third successful Moon landing in human history.
The mission started off pretty rough as while in Earth orbit the Command Module and Lunar Module had trouble docking. After six attempts to dock it was determined that a “hard-dock” be attempted. Luckily that attempt was successful and the mission continued.
The Command Service Module (CSM or CM-110), call sign “Kitty Hawk” entered lunar orbit on February 4 and on February 5, after a couple possibly mission ending descent problems, Lunar Module (LM or LM-8) call sign “Antares” touched down in Fra Mauro. Fra Mauro is named after the 80km in diameter crater that resides there and that crater takes its name from the 15th century monk Fra Mauro. It was to be the landing site of Apollo 13 until it was unable to due to the famous near disaster that unfolded.
Commander Shepard wasn’t over the top about his first words upon exiting the vehicle. In fact, he was already on the surface and a few yards away from the ladder when he stated “And it’s been a long way but we’re here.” While on the surface the mission included two moonwalks and in the process, Shepard and Mitchell racked up the longest distance traveled by foot on the Moon. Shepard was also the first to utilize the identified space suit which had red stripes on the helmet, arms and legs to identify the Commander.
The first moonwalk consisted of the planting of the American Flag, adding seismic recording devices and deploying an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) while utilizing for the first and only time, the Modular Experiment Transporter (MET) or….hand cart. They also deployed a Laser Ranging Retroreflector (RFF) to exactly measure the distance from Earth to the Moon. Apollo’s 11 & 15 also placed RFF’s. The RFF’s are still used today by Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO) at Apache Point NM.
The second moonwalk began on February 6 and consisted of traveling approximately 1/2 mile from the LM and conducting selenological investigations, collecting samples and attempting to reach the rim of Cone crater. They were turned around by mission control approximately 50 meters from reaching it. In all Shepard set a new lunar distance record of 9000 ft. traveled on foot.
Near the end of the Apollo 14 surface operations a plaque was left behind (as all Apollo missions had) attached to the ladder on the landing gear strut of the descent stage. Alan Shepard also took a moment to make a special announcement.
Shepard: (Facing the TV) “Houston, while you’re looking that up, you might recognize what I have in my hand as the handle for the contingency sample return; it just so happens to have a genuine six iron on the bottom of it. In my left hand, I have a little white pellet that’s familiar to millions of Americans. I’ll drop it down. Unfortunately, the suit is so stiff, I can’t do this with two hands, but I’m going to try a little sand-trap shot here. (Pause)”
[Jones – “He topped and buried it on the first swing. I assume that the six-iron was snuck on board.”]
[Mitchell – “In his suit pocket.”]
Mitchell: “You got more dirt than ball that time.”
Shepard: “Got more dirt than ball. Here we go again.”
[Al’s second swing pushes the ball about 2 or 3 feet, mostly along the line toward the TV camera, rather than along the line of the swing.]
Haise: “That looked like a slice to me, Al.”
Shepard: “Here we go. Straight as a die; one more. (Long Pause)”
[Al’s third swing finally connects and sends the ball off-camera to the right, apparently on a fairly low trajectory. He drops a second ball, which rolls left and toward the TV camera. Al gets himself in position and connects again. The trajectory of this shot appears to be similar to the previous one.]
Shepard: “Miles and miles and miles.”
Haise: “Very good, Al.”
Haise: “And (to) answer Ed’s question earlier there; Kilo-Kilo was used for the window shots, Ed; so, you ought to bring it back.”
Shepard: “Yeah, that’s right. We got some of that to start with, didn’t we? “
Shepard: “(Garbled). (Long Pause)”
[Al removes the club head. He brought it home and it is currently on display at the US Golf Association Hall of Fame in New Jersey.]
Mitchell: “How many films (means “frames”) did we take with this (close-up camera)? Eleven, Huh?” Shepard: “Ah, approximately.” Mitchell: “Okay. (Pause)”
[Al is putting the club head in his thigh pocket. Ed has removed the close-up camera from the MET and has placed it on the ground.]
Haise: “Okay, Ed; Houston.”
Shepard never divulged the brand of golf ball he used to avoid making it a commercial event. There were two (2) balls used; three (3) swings on the first ball and 1 swing on the second ball.
While orbiting the Moon, Stu Roosa conducted experiments and took endless photographs to include possible future landing sites as well as lunar terrain. Deep space phenomena were also photographed, to include zodiacal light and the gegenschein. He also conducted communication tests in S-band and VHF to determine the reflective properties of the lunar surface from 60 miles in altitude.
The command module Kitty Hawk splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on February 9, 1971 at 21:05 UTC (16:05 EST) carrying the three astronauts and 94 lbs. of rocks and lunar soil. They were recovered by the USS New Orleans and then flown to Pago Pago International Airport in Tafuna before being transported by a C-141 to Honolulu, HI.
APOLLO 14 DATA POINTS:
• Last of the “H-Missions”. These were Apollo 12 & 14 as 13 didn’t land on the Moon. These were missions of up to two day stays on the surface with two Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA’s).
• Upon descent the LM kept giving a false ABORT command. Changes had to be entered manually by Edgar Mitchell.
• Upon descent the LM radar altimeter failed to lock onto the lunar surface due to a bug in the system. After the astronauts recycled the breaker to the landing radar, the successfully acquired data at 18,000ft.
• Alan Shepard was the first American in space while piloting Freedom 7 during Project Mercury.
• Alan Shepard was the only member of the Mercury 7 that walked on the Moon.
• Alan Shepard, at the age of 47 was the oldest man to walk on the Moon.
• Apollo 14 was the most accurate lunar landing, only 87 feet from its target.
• Apollo 14 was the first to successfully broadcast color television pictures back to Earth from the lunar surface. Apollo 12 did this as well but after just a moment, it was pointed at the Sun and ruined.
• Apollo 14 was the first and only mission to use the MET lunar hand cart to assist with transporting equipment around the lunar surface. It worked well but future missions would have the Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV).
• Apollo 14 Alan Shepard holds the record for longest distance traveled by foot on the Moon (9000 ft).
• Alan Shepard after sneaking a Wilson six-iron attached it to a lunar soil sample scoop handle and became the only person to strike two golf ball on the lunar surface.
• Edgar Mitchell also joined in the athletic activities by throwing a lunar scoop handle like it were a javelin.
• Alan Shepard’s space suit was the first to wear the red stripes on the helmet, arms and legs to easily identify the Commander. Apollo 13 had this feature but for obvious reasons never made it to the lunar surface. This feature was used through the shuttle program and is still in use today on the US & Russian space suits.
• The Apollo 14 back up crew made a “spoof patch” for the mission which depicts Wile E. Coyote still en-route to the Moon as a chubby (Mitchell), red coated (Roosa) animal with a gray beard (Shepard). The backup crew, represented as the Road Runner is shown already on the Moon with a flag that says “1st Team” and the “Apollo 14” is replaced with “Beep Beep” and the backup crew names replacing the main crew names. Many of these patches were hidden through the CM & LM and were found during flight and on the surface of the Moon attached to the lunar hand cart or Modular Equipment Transfer (MET).
• Stuart Roosa brought with him about 500 tree seeds which upon return were germinated & planted and are today known as “Moon Trees”. They are planted around the world though not all locations are still known.
• Edgar Mitchell who is a fan of the paranormal and UFO’s claimed to have a strong savikalpa Samadhi experience while on his way back to Earth. He also claims to have participated in ESP activities with friends back on Earth. Buzz Aldrin addressed this situation as a guest on the Opie & Anthony show.
• Apollo 14 was the last lunar mission quarantined upon return.
• The Apollo 14 Command Module (CM) “Kitty Hawk” is today on display at the Apollo/SaturnV Center at Kennedy Space Center.
• In the lobby of the Astronaut Hall of Fame; just south of Titusville FL, there’s a large statue of Alan Shepard which was created by artist Robert L. Rasmussen.
Apollo 14 NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo14.html
Lunar Planetary Institute Apollo 14: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_14/
Apollo 14 Image Library: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a14/images14.html
Lunar Planetary Institute Apollo 14 images: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/catalog/70mm/mission/?14
Project Apollo Apollo 14 image library: http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_gallery.html
Apollo 14 photo page: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/apollo14/ndxpage1.html
Complete NASA Apollo image gallery: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/index.html
Golf Balls on the Moon: http://www.matthewweathers.com/year2007/golf_balls_moon.html
NASA’s hunt for the Moon Trees: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2011-02-17-Moontrees17_ST_N.htm
Fields of the Moon, Arizona: Project Apollo Lunar Surface Training Site: http://v-e-n-u-e.com/Fields-of-the-Moon
APOLLO 14 Mission:
CBS News Apollo 15 Launch:
Alan Shepard Golfing on the Moon: