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Apollo 14
Part of Apollo Lunar Landing

LM on Moon

LM on Moon
Credit: NASA

Third manned lunar landing. Only Mercury astronaut to reach moon. Five attempts to dock the command module with the lunar module failed for no apparent reason - mission saved when sixth was successful. Hike to Cone Crater frustrating; rim not reached.

AKA: Kitty Hawk/Antares. Launched: 1971-01-31. Returned: 1971-02-09. Number crew: 3 . Duration: 9.00 days. Location: National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian Institution), Washington, DC.

The Apollo 14 (AS-509) mission - manned by astronauts Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Stuart A. Roosa, and Edgar D. Mitchell - was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 4:03 p.m. EST January 31 on a Saturn V launch vehicle. A 40-minute hold had been ordered 8 minutes before scheduled launch time because of unsatisfactory weather conditions, the first such delay in the Apollo program. Activities during earth orbit and translunar injection were similar to those of the previous lunar landing missions. However, during transposition and docking, CSM 110 Kitty Hawk had difficulty docking with LM-8 Antares. A hard dock was achieved on the sixth attempt at 9:00 p.m. EST, 1 hour 54 minutes later than planned. Other aspects of the translunar journey were normal and proceeded according to flight plan. A crew inspection of the probe and docking mechanism was televised during the coast toward the moon. The crew and ground personnel were unable to determine why the CSM and LM had failed to dock properly, but there was no indication that the systems would not work when used later in the flight.

Apollo 14 entered lunar orbit at 1:55 a.m. EST on February 4. At 2:41 a.m. the separated S-IVB stage and instrument unit struck the lunar surface 174 kilometers southeast of the planned impact point. The Apollo 12 seismometer, left on the moon in November 1969, registered the impact and continued to record vibrations for two hours.

After rechecking the systems in the LM, astronauts Shepard and Mitchell separated the LM from the CSM and descended to the lunar surface. The Antares landed on Fra Mauro at 4:17 a.m. EST February 5, 9 to 18 meters short of the planned landing point. The first EVA began at 9:53 a.m., after intermittent communications problems in the portable life support system had caused a 49-minute delay. The two astronauts collected a 19.5-kilogram contingency sample; deployed the TV, S-band antenna, American flag, and Solar Wind Composition experiment; photographed the LM, lunar surface, and experiments; deployed the Apollo lunar surface experiments package 152 meters west of the LM and the laser-ranging retroreflector 30 meters west of the ALSEP; and conducted an active seismic experiment, firing 13 thumper shots into the lunar surface.

A second EVA period began at 3:11 a.m. EST February 6. The two astronauts loaded the mobile equipment transporter (MET) - used for the first time - with photographic equipment, tools, and a lunar portable magnetometer. They made a geology traverse toward the rim of Cone Crater, collecting samples on the way. On their return, they adjusted the alignment of the ALSEP central station antenna in an effort to strengthen the signal received by the Manned Space Flight Network ground stations back on earth.

Just before reentering the LM, astronaut Shepard dropped a golf ball onto the lunar surface and on the third swing drove the ball 366 meters. The second EVA had lasted 4 hours 35 minutes, making a total EVA time for the mission of 9 hours 24 minutes. The Antares lifted off the moon with 43 kilograms of lunar samples at 1:48 p.m. EST February 6.

Meanwhile astronaut Roosa, orbiting the moon in the CSM, took astronomy and lunar photos, including photos of the proposed Descartes landing site for Apollo 16.

Ascent of the LM from the lunar surface, rendezvous, and docking with the CSM in orbit were performed as planned, with docking at 3:36 p.m. EST February 6. TV coverage of the rendezvous and docking maneuver was excellent. The two astronauts transferred from the LM to the CSM with samples, equipment, and film. The LM ascent stage was then jettisoned and intentionally crashed on the moon's surface at 7:46 p.m. The impact was recorded by the Apollo 12 and Apollo 14 ALSEPs.

The spacecraft was placed on its trajectory toward earth during the 34th lunar revolution. During transearth coast, four inflight technical demonstrations of equipment and processes in zero gravity were performed.

The CM and SM separated, the parachutes deployed, and other reentry events went as planned, and the Kitty Hawk splashed down in mid-Pacific at 4:05 p.m. EST February 9 about 7 kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. New Orleans. The Apollo 14 crew returned to Houston on February 12, where they remained in quarantine until February 26.

All primary mission objectives had been met. The mission had lasted 216 hours 40 minutes and was marked by the following achievements:

Official NASA Account of the Mission from Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of Apollo Lunar Exploration Missions, by W. David Compton, published as NASA SP-4214 in the NASA History Series, 1989.

Launch day, January 31, was cloudy and rainy; eight minutes before the scheduled liftoff, the launch director stopped the countdown to wait for the heaviest clouds to move across the Cape. Forty minutes later Apollo 14 was on its way. The trip to the moon was uneventful until the time came to remove the lunar module from the S-IVB stage. Five attempts to dock the command module with the lunar module failed for no apparent reason - a worrisome anomaly, to say the least - but the sixth was successful. The spent 5-IVB stage was then put on a course to crash on the moon some 100 miles southwest of the Apollo 12 landing site. Command module Kitty Hawk and lunar module Antares braked into lunar orbit 82 hours after liftoff. Two hours later Kitty Hawk's main engine lowered both spacecraft to the altitude from which Antares would begin its descent. This maneuver was one result of the refinement of mission techniques that planners had been working on since Apollo 12, designed to conserve fuel in the lunar module and give the crew more time to hover before landing if they needed to look for a suitable site.

After mission commander Alan Shepard and lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell had checked out Antares , command module pilot Stuart Roosa pulled Kitty Haw k away and Antares began its descent to the surface. Last-minute course corrections sent up from Houston were entered in the guidance computer and Shepard piloted the spacecraft to a routine landing about 350 miles (563 kilometers) west-southwest of the center of the moon's visible side. Antares was only 175 feet (53 meters) from its targeted landing site. Meanwhile Roosa had boosted Kitty Hawk back up into a higher, circular orbit, where he had a number of tasks to perform while his colleagues explored the Fra Mauro Formation.

The terrain on which Antares sat was gently undulating, with numerous craters but comparatively few boulders. Mitchell commented that there was "more relief [i.e., variations in elevation] than we anticipated from looking at the maps," a characteristic that would cause them some difficulty later on. Having given Houston a description of what they could see, Shepard and Mitchell put on their space suits and prepared for their first excursion.

Shepard's first words as he stepped on to the moon were inspired by his 9 years, 10 months, and 10 days of waiting from Mercury-Redstone 3, when he had been the first American in space, to the day he stepped on the moon. "It's been a long way," he said, "but we're here." Mitchell joined Shepard on the lunar surface and they unloaded the rickshaw and experiments and picked a spot some 500 feet (150 meters) west of Antares for the instruments. After laying out the geophones for the active seismic experiment, Mitchell fired the explosive charges in his hand-held "thumper" as they walked back to the lunar module. On the way Shepard stopped to collect a comprehensive sample of rocks and fine surface material from a representative area, found two "football-sized" rocks, and collected some other surface samples. After more than four and a half hours they were back in the lunar module. Houston then had half an hour's worth of questions from the scientists in the back room, and then it Was time to turn in.

Shepard and Mitchell did most of the mission's geological field work on their second traverse. Their biggest problem was in determining their location from the landmarks shown on their map. More than once they changed their minds about where they were. At the time and later, they attributed this to the rolling terrain and the relation of their line of sight to the sun: craters might be visible in one direction but not in another. Without familiar objects for reference, they found it difficult to estimate distances. A prime objective was to sample the rim of "Cone" crater, about a thousand meters (3,300 feet) from the spacecraft. By the time they got there, however, they had spent considerable time and were not positive that they were in the right place. As it turned out, they stopped just a few meters short of the rim, but at the time they were not certain they were on the slope of Cone, and Shepard was concerned with the tasks they had yet to accomplish and the time available. They turned back, completed the planned traverse, and returned to Antares after another 4 1/2-hour excursion. They had collected nearly a hundred pounds (45 kilograms) of samples and taken hundreds of photographs documenting many of the rocks, boulders, and sampling sites, including several panoramic views of the landing site. Before climbing back into the lunar module, Shepard took out of his suit pocket "a little white pellet that's familiar to millions of Americans" - a golf ball - and dropped it on the surface. Then, using the handle for the contingency sample return container, to which was attached "a genuine six-iron," he took a couple of one-handed swings. He missed with the first, but connected with the second. The ball, he reported, sailed for "miles and miles."

During the 33 1/2 hours Shepard and Mitchell were on the moon, Stuart Roosa had several important tasks to perform in Kitty Hawk . Continuing what had begun on Apollo 12, he photographed one of the remaining candidate landing areas (Descartes) and made numerous observations of prominent lunar landmarks to provide data that would improve landing accuracy on subsequent missions.

Back in Antares , Shepard and Mitchell stowed their samples and discarded their expendable equipment. Houston then passed up questions for half an hour concerning details of their visual observations, which brought out some of the difficulties they had experienced on the traverse. Geological features had been subtle, occasionally they had had too little time to observe and comment on details, and the rolling terrain had sometimes blocked their view of features only a few meters away.

Liftoff from the moon came at 1:48 p.m. EST on February 6. Mission planners had worked out a "direct" rendezvous scheme - that is, the ascent trajectory was programmed to meet the command module at its highest point, with necessary corrections being made during ascent - which they used for the first time. (On previous missions several maneuvers had been necessary to adjust the LM's orbit before bringing the spacecraft together.) Two and a half hours after liftoff, Antares and Kitty Hawk docked; three hours later, having sent the lunar module crashing to the lunar surface, Kitty Hawk headed home.

Along the way the crew performed some "inflight demonstrations" experiments exploring some zero-g techniques that might offer useful application of technology in space: electrophoresis (the migration of charged molecules in solution under the influence of an applied voltage), transfer of liquids between two containers, heat transfer, and casting of various materials from the molten state. Results were promising enough to warrant further investigation on Skylab and, later, on space shuttle missions. After finishing those demonstrations, Shepard, Mitchell, and Roosa had little to do for the rest of the mission. Kitty Hawk made a normal reentry and landed 0.6 miles (965 meters) from its targeted point in the South Pacific near the aircraft carrier U.S.S. New Orleans in the early morning light of February 9. Three days later the astronauts in their quarantine trailer arrived at the lunar receiving laboratory at MSC, where they spent 15 days in quarantine.

More at: Apollo 14.

Family: Manned spaceflight. People: Mitchell, Roosa, Shepard. Country: USA. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Projects: Apollo. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral. Agency: NASA Houston.
Photo Gallery

Apollo 14Apollo 14
Apollo 14 Patch
Credit: NASA

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Shepard on the moon
Credit: NASA

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