50 years ago this month Apollo 14 blasted off from Cape Canaveral. The mission was delayed for four months after the Apollo 13 mission astronauts did not land on the moon.
APOLLO 14 highlights
The crew was Alan B. Shepard Jr., Commander, Edgar D. Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot and Stuart A. Roosa, Command Module Pilot. It was the third manned lunar landing mission. It was launched from Kennedy Space Center at 1:03:22 PST on Jan. 31, 1971. Shepard Jr. was the oldest U.S. astronaut (48) when he commanded the mission.
Trouble on the way
Approximately three hours, 41 minutes after launch, difficulties were experienced in docking with the lunar module. Six attempts were required before a hard dock was achieved.
A color TV camera mounted on the descent stage gave live coverage of the descent of both astronauts to the moon. Five hours, 23 minutes after landing, the crew deployed the U.S. flag, a solar-wind composition experiment, erected the S-band antenna, off-loaded the laser ranging retroreflector and the Apollo lunar-surface experiments package. The astronauts used a handcart to carry their tools.
On the second day, the astronauts had a longer mission on the moon’s surface. Shepard set a record of traveling 9,000 feet from the module. He also used a makeshift golf club (6 iron) to hit two golf balls. The club is kept in an exhibit at the USGA Golf Museum. Shepard’s suit was so bulky he could only swing with one hand. The first ball was a shank, but he made solid contact on the second and said, “The shot soared for miles and miles and miles.” The ball’s time of flight was more than 30 seconds.
During the two moonwalks, the astronauts collected 94 pounds of rocks and soil for return to Earth. The samples were scheduled to go to 187 scientific teams in the United States, as well as 14 other countries for study and analysis.
Samples obtained of the Fra Mauro formation during Apollo 14 suggest that the impact that formed the Imbrium basin is no older than 4.25 billion years.
The liftoff of Antares from the moon was on schedule.
The command module Kitty Hawk splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean about 765 nautical miles south of Samoa on Feb. 9, exactly nine days and two minutes after launch.
This is the Apollo 14 crew patch designed by Shepard Jr., Roosa, and Mitchell. It features the astronaut lapel pin approaching the moon and leaving a comet trail from the liftoff point on Earth.
Image from NASA
Sources: NASA, Aerospace Legacy Foundation, Library of Congress, the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, USGA
Source: Orange County Register