was targeted for a crater called Cone Crater in the Fra Mauro
region of the Moon. Fra Mauro
was a high priority science target and had been the destination of the
ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.
Selected to be Commander of Apollo 14 was Alan (Al) Bartlett Shepard,
Jr. Shepard had one previous flight when he became the first
American in space on Mercury Redstone 3.
The Command Module Pilot was chosen to be Stuart (Stu) Allen
Roosa. Apollo 14 would be the first and only flight for Astronaut
The astronaut selected to be Lunar Module Pilot was Edgar (Ed) Dean
Mitchell. Apollo 14 would also be Mitchell's only spaceflight.
The name selected by the crew for the Command Module was Kitty
Hawk. This was done in honor of Wright Brothers, who flew the
first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Lunar
Module was named Antares. Antares was also the name of a star
that would be used to guide Shepard and Mitchell down to the lunar
Two modifications had been made to the Command Service Module in
response to the accident on Apollo 13. A third oxygen tank was
added to the service module at a location isolated from the other
two. Also a spare battery was added to carry the electrical load
of the spacecraft at any point in a returning mission, if the fuel
cells should fail.
The Apollo 14 Saturn V lifted off from launch complex 39-A at the
Kennedy Space Center on January 31, 1971. Roosa called out, "Go, baby go!"
going; she's going.
Everything is good." The ascent into orbit by Apollo 14
was nominal without any major issues.
The Apollo 14
backup crew consisted
of Eugene Andrew Cernan, Ronald
Ellwin Evans, and Joseph Henry Engle. The backup crew humorously
referred to the prime crew as the old man; the fat man; and the cute
little red head." Shepard was 47 years old at this point and
would become the oldest man to walk on the Moon. Roosa had red
That left Lunar Module Pilot Mitchell with the moniker "fat man".
the Apollo 14 backup crew had a special patch
designed. Its theme was taken from the cartoon characters of the
Coyote and Roadrunner. The Coyote represented the Apollo 14 prime
crew. It had a beard for the "old man", a fat belly for the "fat
man", and it was colored red for the "cute little red head". The
Roadrunner represented the backup crew and the patch depicted the
Roadrunner or backup crew beating the primary crew or Coyote to the
To further press the practical joke, the Apollo 14 backup crew secretly
stowed these comical patches in just about storage place there was in
the Apollo 14 Command Module. These patches floating in micro gravity
would greet the Apollo 14 crew on orbit.
Apollo 14 took the customary 1.5 orbits of the Earth to check out
spacecraft systems. During this time, the practical joke of the
backup crew patches became painfully obvious. The transcripts of
the on-board conversations during that time include many references to
At 1 hour, 26 minutes, and 16 seconds into the flight, Shepard
badges." Mitchell responded, "OK, I got it." Shepard answered, "I'll
get it out of the way ... I'm over here ... beep, beep, beep all
over the place." Roosa chimed in, "He who laughs last."
I'm - even so, I'm
hell of a lot happier that we're flying and looking at their patches,
rather than the other way around." Roosa quipped, "Well that's what I
meant by laughing last."
The spacecraft systems checked out all right and the crew was given the
go for TLI (Trans Lunar Injection). The J2 rocket engine was
fired on the third stage (S-IVB) of the Saturn rocket, breaking Apollo
14 free of the bonds of Earth's gravity.
The Command Service Module was separated from the S-IVB and Astronaut
Roosa transposed the position of the spacecraft to face the lunar
module nestled at the top of the S-IVB.
and attempted to dock with the Lunar Module.
To the surprise of the Apollo 14 astronauts, the Command Service Module
failed to dock with the Lunar Module. At 3 hours, 14 minutes, and
59 seconds, Roosa radioed, "OK Houston, We have
hit it twice and -
sure looks like we're closing fast enough. I'm going to back out
of here and try it again."
The second attempt at docking also failed. Roosa radioed, "OK Houston, I hit
it pretty good and held
4 seconds on contact, and we still did not latch." If the Command Service Module
could not dock with the Lunar Module, the lunar landing would be
Frantically, engineers on the ground began pouring over the docking
system design for the spacecraft. Three more docking attempts
were made in the next 60 minutes and all of them also failed. The
amount of maneuvering fuel consumed during these failed attempts began
to be a concern.
An alternative docking procedure was radioed up to the crew. They
would skip the soft dock part of the process and instead would hit the
hard dock switch in conjunction with ramming the docking probe into the
drogue on the lunar module. At 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 53
seconds, Shepard announced, "I got - got a
barber pole. We got a hard
was a big relief to the crew and to mission control to put that docking
When they reached the Moon, the service propulsion engine on the
Service Module was fired and Apollo 14 was inserted into lunar orbit.
On February 4, 1971 Shepard and Mitchell undocked Antares from Kitty
Hawk in preparation for their descent towards the Fra Mauro region of
the Moon. A problem developed with Antares computer. The
computer repeatedly entered the abort mode as they tested its operation
before beginning powered descent.
Mission Control struggled on the ground to determine what was causing
the abort. It was finally determined that the abort switch was
faulty. With only 15 minutes left in the window before the
landing would have to be canceled entirely, a new computer procedure
was radioed up to the crew. This fixed the problem and Antares
was given the go for descent.
On the way down, the landing radar switched into an incorrect mode of
operation. Mitchell implored, "Come
on radar; that's a lock-on... radar... thousand... have anything to get
the radar in?" Shepard was instructed to recycle the
circuit breaker powering the landing radar. Shepard did so and
radioed, "Okay, It's cycled."
Mitchell pleaded, "Come on."
The landing radar came back on in the proper mode and a relieved
Shepard called, "Good.
that was close."
pitched over and provided Shepard and Mitchell their first view
of the approaching landing site. Shepard and Mitchell were
excited to see the lunar landmarks they were expecting. Shepard
is Cone Crater...
And there it is! Right on the money!" Mitchell replied, "Hot damn! Right on
surface the contact light illuminated on the Antares control
panel. This was an indication that the landing probes had touched
the surface. Mitchell told Shepard, "Contact, Al."
the button to stop the descent engine and stated, "...stop. Great. Oh,
Mitchell announced, "We're on the
surface." Shepard followed with, "Okay. We made a
manned lunar landing had occurred on February 5, 1971. This had been
the most accurate landing of all of the lunar landing missions.
Shepard and Mitchell had put Antares down only 174 feet away from the
planned target. When the descent engine was shut down only 68
seconds of maneuvering fuel remained. If anything, this landing
proved that landing on the Moon was not a routine experience.
On February 5, 1971 with tears in his eyes, Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.
became the fifth man to walk on the surface of the Moon.
Shepard's first words on the surface were, "Okay, you're right.
Al is on the
surface. And it's been a long way but we're here."
Soon after Shepard was on the surface, Edgar Dean Mitchell joined him
and became the sixth man to walk on the Moon. One of the comments
Mitchell made was, "Mobility is...
very great under this crushing one-sixth-g load, Houston."
For the first
on the Moon, the spacesuit for the Commander had red stripes on the
helmet, elbows, and knees. These stripes would make it easier to
determine which astronaut was which in photographs and on the
Because of the loss of the television camera on Apollo 12, a new
procedure was developed for moving the television camera on Apollo
14. A lens cap would be placed over the television camera lens
before the camera was moved. That would avoid the risk of
damaging the camera if it were accidentally pointed into the Sun.
Shepard and Mitchell set up the S-band communications
aligned it towards the Earth. They set up the American flag and
took turns photographing themselves saluting it.
Deke Slayton in
Mission control relayed a message to Shepard and
Mitchell from President Nixon. Slayton told them, "Okay. We were
very pleased here in
Mission Control to receive a phone call from President Nixon. He
asked me to extend to you and Stu his best congratulations.
He said that, like millions of people all over the world, he is an
astronaut watcher at this time. The picture is coming in very
well at the White House, he said. The President said he knew how
many thousands of people had worked on this mission without whom men
would not be safely walking on the Moon. He asked that I wish the
Apollo - entire team well. The President said he was proud of you
and proud of them. He sent you a wire just before the flight
wishing you Godspeed, and he wishes you well on your return
flight. The President also asked me to invite you to the White
House for dinner and to spend the weekend with your families at Camp
David after your mission is completed. Over."
went about the business of setting up the scientific instrument station
called ALSEP. As with Apollo 12, this station would be reporting
readings from the Moon long after the Apollo 14 crew had left.
Apollo 14 would be the only lunar mission to utilize a Mobile Equipment
Transporter (MET). It was a hand pulled cart with two small wheels to
aid the crew with carrying their equipment on the lunar surface.
Shepard affectionately referred to the MET as his lunar rickshaw.
While moving out towards the ALSEP deployment site, Shepard remarked, "The MET seems to be
riding very well,
Houston. It's bouncing a little bit making nice tire marks, but
not about to turn over. It jumps about a foot every time it hits
a small rise but very stable."
at the Fra Mauro landing site was sloped and pock marked with many
craters. This made it somewhat difficult to find a good site to
deploy ALSEP. The most suitable site for ALSEP was selected at a
fair distance away from the Lunar Module.
Dust would again be a nemesis of the moonwalkers, Mitchell commented, "Everything else is
going to be full of
dust before long. Be filthy as pigs."
With ALSEP deployed Shepard and Mitchell conducted a
seismic experiment with a tool called a "thumper". This tool had
a charge in it that when fired in contact with the surface would
produce shock waves for the
seismic instruments to record. While using the thumper, Mitchell
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Besides having a hard trigger, this has a pretty good kick to it."
Shepard responded, "Okay, good shot,
Mitchell continued, "Kind
of like firing both barrels of a 12-gauge shotgun at once."
the EVA was spent collecting lunar samples. Before Mitchell and
Shepard climbed the ladder to enter the Lunar Module, they tried to
clean the lunar soil off of each other's spacesuits. Shepard
commented to Mitchell, "All righty.
Do you ever use soap on your clothes? Bet you been wallowing in
them." Mitchell retorted, "Okay,
come on around and let me get this other leg. Okay. That's
good. Get them off good because you're going to sleep in that
hammock over me."
The first EVA lasted
hours, 47 minutes and 50 seconds. After a rest period a second
EVA was conducted the next day on February 6, 1971. At the
beginning of the second EVA Shepard joked, "Yes
it's a beautiful day here at Fra Mauro
Base. Not a cloud in the sky." Perhaps as an indication of things to
come, Mitchell responded, "Beautiful
day for a game of golf."
The goal of this EVA was to reach the rim of Cone Crater and sample
rocks there. It was believed that the oldest rocks thrown out
from the bottom of the crater would be near the rim.
The traverse up to the rim of Cone Crater would prove to be more
difficult than imagined. The landmarks indicated on their lunar surface
map were difficult to distinguish. Shepard commented, "Not even half way
to the - to the rim of
Cone yet." Mitchell added, "Yes, this place all
looks alike out here."
The terrain was steep and littered with boulders. Some were
partially buried in the soil. Shepard and Mitchell found pulling the
Mobile Equipment Transporter up this steep and undulating grade to be
very difficult. They took turns pulling the MET. At one
point Mitchell radioed, "Al's picked
up the - Al's got the back of the MET now and we are carrying it
up. I think it seems easier."
Shepard and Mitchell were pushing themselves to the limits of
exertion. They were breathing heavily and had to stop and rest
from time to time. They continued to be stymied in identifying
their exact location. Mitchell commented, "Doggone it, you sure
can be deceived by
the slopes here. The sun angle is very deceiving." Later
Mitchell would add, "It's going to
take longer than we expected. Our positions are all in doubt now
The difficulty caused the moonwalkers to fall behind their
schedule for the EVA by about 30 minutes. Shepard began to get
concerned that they had spent too much time trying to reach the rim of
Cone Crater and not enough time documenting and sampling the
rocks. He proposed stopping the attempt to reach the rim so that
they would have enough time for their geological sampling.
Mitchell protested, "Oh, let's give
it a whirl. We can't stop without looking into Cone Crater."
discussion continued and Fred Haise the CAPCOM from Mission Control
Al and Ed. In
view of your assay of the - where your location is and how long it is
going to take to get to Cone, the word from the back room is that
they'd like you to consider where you are to be the edge of Cone
Crater." Mitchell was not pleased and radioed, "Think your finks."
Shepard and Mitchell had made a bet before the flight that they would
reach Cone Crater with the MET in tow. Mitchell suggested to
don't we lose our bet
and leave the MET and get on up there. We could make it a lot
faster without it." Shepard disagreed. He did not
think the MET was slowing them down. Shortly Fred Haise radioed, "And Al and Ed, Deke
says he'll cover your
bet if you drop the MET."
the MET's not slowing us down,
Houston. It's just a question of time. We'll get there."
Time was their enemy. Mission Control had given them a 30-minute
extension to the plan for the EVA based upon the difficulties
encountered and now that 30-minute extension was eaten up. The
call was made to stop and sample the boulder field that they were
in. They did not realize it at the time, but they were
tantalizingly close to their goal, the rim of Cone Crater
The time consumed by the traverse did not leave them with enough time
to document the samples that they collected very well here at the end
of their traverse. They were given permission from Mission
Control to just pick up samples of opportunity on the way back to
Antares so that they could catch up to the mission plan.
Shepard and Mitchell hurried back to the Lunar
Mitchell was given the task of sampling some nearby boulders.
Shepard was directed to the ALSEP site to realign the ALSEP antenna for
better communication with Earth.
When they both got back to the Lunar Module, they were directed point
the TV camera back towards Antares so that Mission Control could watch
the close out activities.
Shepard had a trick up his sleeve or in this case in his pocket.
He radioed, "Houston,
looking that up you might recognize what I have in my hand as the
handle for the re - 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 drop it down. Unfortunately, the suit is so
stiff, I can't do this with both hands, but I'm going to try a
little sand trap shot here."
became the only human to ever hit a golf ball on the
Moon. The first shot collected more dirt than ball. Shepard
then dropped a second ball and made better contact with his second
attempt. Describing the second shot Shepard reported that it
and miles and miles." Not to miss out on the fun,
Mitchell attempted a javelin throw with a no longer needed pole.
As they were loading up the Lunar Module for their return, Shepard
accidentally pulled the cable to the television camera and knocked it
over. He went over to the camera and stood it back up. The
picture from it was reported to be better than it had been before it
was knocked in the lunar dust.
Before he left the surface, Shepard reported, "Okay, Houston. Crew
of Antares is leaving
Fra Mauro base." Fred Haise who missed his opportunity to
explore Fra Mauro due to the aborted Apollo 13 mission radioed back, "Roger,
Al. You and Ed did a great
job. Don't think I could have done any better myself."
EVA had lasted 4 hours, 37 minutes, and 41 seconds. Shepard and
Mitchell prepared the cabin of Antares for the ascent into orbit and
rendezvous with Roosa in Kitty Hawk. Shepard counted down the
time for the ignition of the ascent engine, "Ascent engine is
armed. 6, 5, 4, 3, 1, 0."
Mitchell called, "Ignition."
Shepard concurred, "We have ignition."
Mitchell exclaimed, "What a lift-off!"
rendezvoused with Kitty Hawk. The docking problems
experienced on the outbound journey from Earth caused some concern now
for the lunar orbit docking. Roosa was instructed to try the
normal docking procedure rather than the one they had improvised during
the original docking. This time the normal procedure worked as it
was supposed to.
The lunar samples and lunar explorers were
transferred over to the Command Module. Antares ascent stage was
jettisoned and crashed into the Moon. A short time was spent in
lunar orbit before the service propulsion engine on the Service Module
was burned on February 7, 1971 for Trans Earth Injection to send Apollo
14 back on it's three day cruise towards the Earth.
Mitchell had spent a total of 33 hours, 30 minutes on the surface of
the Moon. On their two EVAs, they collected a total of 92 and one half
pounds of lunar samples. Apollo 14 completed 34 lunar orbits.
1971, as Apollo 14 neared the point of reentry with the
atmosphere, the Command Module was separated from the Service
Module. One of the goals at this point was to photograph the Moon
as it set below the horizon of the Earth. For this photographic
exercise, the camera was mounted in Mitchell's window. Mitchell
commented, "Oh man that sure is
pretty. Back home again. Keep it in the window. You're letting it get
too high on me..."
parachutes deployed normally and Apollo 14 splashed down safely in the
Pacific Ocean on February 9, 1971. The prime recovery ship for
Apollo 14 was the USS New Orleans.
To prevent possible lunar microbe contamination of the Earth, the
Apollo 14 crew was required to wear breathing masks upon exiting the
Command Module. The were quarantined for 15 days in Houston
following the mission. No lunar microbes were found and the
quarantine procedure was dropped for subsequent missions.
The flight duration for Apollo 14 was 9 days, 0 hours, 1 minute, and 57
seconds. Apollo 14 would be the last spaceflight for
Shepard. It would be the only spaceflight for Mitchell and Roosa.