Apollo 14

Apollo 14 Mission Insignia
Apollo 14 Mission Insignia
Mission statistics
Mission name Apollo 14
Command Module CM-110
callsign Kitty Hawk
mass 29,240 kg
Service Module SM-110
Lunar Module LM-8
callsign Antares
mass 15,264 kg
Crew size 3
Booster Saturn V SA-509
Launch pad LC 39A
Kennedy Space Center
Florida, USA
Launch date January 31, 1971
21:03:02 UTC
Lunar landing February 5, 1971   09:18:11 UTC
Fra Mauro
3°38′43.08″S 17°28′16.90″W
(based on the IAU
Mean Earth Polar Axis coordinate system)
Lunar EVA duration First 04:47:50
Second   04:34:41
Total 09:22:31
Lunar surface time 1 d 09 h 30 m 29 s
Lunar sample mass 42.28 kg (93.21 lb)
Total CSM time in lunar orbit 2 d 18 h 35 m 39 s
Landing February 9, 1971
21:05:00 UTC
27°1′S 172°39′W
Mission duration 9 d 00 h 01 m 58 s
Crew photo
Apollo 14 crew. Left to right: Roosa, Shepard, Mitchell
Left to right: Roosa, Shepard, Mitchell
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Apollo 13
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Apollo 15

Apollo 14 was the eighth manned mission in the Apollo program and the third mission to land on the Moon. The nine-day mission was launched on January 31, 1971, with lunar touch down on February 5. The Lunar Module landed in the Fra Mauro formation; this had originally been the target of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. During the two lunar EVA's over 100 pounds of moon rock was collected and several surface experiments, including seismic studies, were carried out. Commander Alan Shepard famously hit two golf balls on the lunar surface with a make-shift club he had brought from Earth. Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa took several hundred seeds on the mission, many of which were germinated on return resulting in the so called Moon trees.

Crew

  • Alan B. Shepard, Jr - Commander (Second spaceflight)
  • Stuart A. Roosa - Command Module Pilot (First spaceflight)
  • Edgar D. Mitchell - Lunar Module Pilot (First spaceflight)

The crew got some good-natured razzing in the astronaut office as the first "all-rookie" Apollo crew (Shepard's 1961 flight on Freedom 7 was a suborbital flight).

Shepard was the oldest U.S. astronaut when he made his trip aboard Apollo 14. He is the only astronaut from Project Mercury (the original Mercury Seven astronauts) to reach the Moon. Another of the original seven, Gordon Cooper, had originally been scheduled to command the mission, but according to Chaikin, his casual attitude toward training, along with problems with NASA hierarchy (reaching all the way back to the Mercury-Atlas 9 flight) resulted in his relief.

The mission was a personal triumph for Shepard, who had battled back from Ménière’s disease which grounded him from 1964 to 1968. He and his crew were originally scheduled to fly on Apollo 13, but in 1969 NASA Administrators switched the scheduled crews for Apollo 13 and 14. This was done to place the more experienced Apollo 8 veteran James Lovell in command of what would have been the first lunar landing attempt if both Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 had failed to successfully land.

As of 2009, Mitchell is the only surviving member of the crew; Roosa died in 1994 from pancreatitis and Shepard in 1998 from leukemia.

Backup crew

  • Eugene A. Cernan - Commander
  • Ronald E. Evans, Jr - Command Module Pilot
  • Joseph H. Engle - Lunar Module Pilot

Support crew

  • Philip K. Chapman
  • Bruce McCandless, II
  • William R. Pogue
  • C. Gordon Fullerton

Flight directors

  • Pete Frank, Orange team
  • Glynn Lunney, Black team
  • Milton Windler, Maroon team
  • Gerry Griffin, Gold team

Mission parameters

  • Mass: CSM 29,240 kg; LM 15,264 kg
  • Perigee: 183.2 km
  • Apogee: 188.9 km
  • Inclination: 31.12°
  • Period: 88.18 min
  • Perilune: 108.2 km
  • Apolune: 314.1 km
  • Inclination: 31.12°
  • Period: 120 min
  • Landing Site: 3.64530° S - 17.47136° W or 3° 38' 43.08" S - 17° 28' 16.90" W

LM - CSM docking

  • Undocked: February 5, 1971 - 04:50:43 UTC
  • Docked: February 6, 1971 - 20:35:42 UTC

EVAs

Apollo 14 landing site, photograph by LRO
  • EVA 1
    • Start: February 5, 1971, 14:42:13 UTC
      • Shepard - EVA 1
        • Stepped onto moon: 14:54 UTC
        • LM ingress: 19:22 UTC
      • Mitchell - EVA 1
        • Stepped onto moon: 14:58 UTC
        • LM ingress: 19:18 UTC
    • End: February 5, 19:30:50 UTC
      Duration: 4 hours, 47 minutes, 50 seconds
  • Apollo 14 LM is placed in LM Adapter. (NASA)
  • EVA 2
    • Start: February 6, 1971, 08:11:15 UTC
      • Shepard - EVA 2
        • Stepped onto moon: 08:16 UTC
        • LM ingress: 12:38 UTC
      • Mitchell - EVA 2
        • Stepped onto moon: 08:23 UTC
        • LM ingress: 12:28 UTC
    • End: February 6, 12:45:56 UTC
      Duration: 4 hours, 34 minutes, 41 seconds

Mission highlights

Transfer and descent

At the beginning of the mission, the CSM Kitty Hawk had difficulty achieving capture and docking with the LM Antares. Repeated attempts to dock went on for 1 hour and 42 minutes, until it was suggested that pilot Roosa hold Kitty Hawk against Antares using its thrusters, then the docking probe would be retracted out of the way, hopefully triggering the docking latches. This attempt was successful, and no further docking problems were encountered during the mission.

Launch of Apollo 14

After separating from the command module in lunar orbit, the LM Antares also had two serious problems. First, the LM computer began getting an ABORT signal from a faulty switch. NASA believed that the computer might be getting erroneous readings like this if a tiny ball of soldering material had shaken loose and was floating between the switch and the contact, closing the circuit. The immediate solution—tapping on the panel next to the switch—did work briefly, but the circuit soon closed again. If the problem recurred after the descent engine fired, the computer would think the signal was real and would initiate an auto-abort, causing the Ascent Stage to separate from the Descent Stage and climb back into orbit. NASA and the software teams at MIT scrambled to find a solution, and determined the fix would involve reprogramming the computer to ignore the false signal. The software modifications were transmitted to the crew via voice communication, and Mitchell manually entered the changes (amounting to over 80 keystrokes on the LM computer pad) just in time.

A second problem occurred during the powered descent, when the LM radar altimeter failed to lock automatically onto the moon's surface, depriving the navigation computer of vital information on the vehicle altitude and groundspeed. This was later determined to be an unintended consequence of the software patch. After the astronauts cycled the landing radar breaker, the unit successfully acquired a signal near 50,000 feet (15,000 m), again just in the nick of time. Shepard then manually landed the LM closer to its intended target than any of the other six moon landing missions. Mitchell believes that Shepard would have continued with the landing attempt without the radar, using the LM inertial guidance system and visual cues. But a post-flight review of the descent data showed the inertial system alone would have been inadequate, and the astronauts probably would have been forced to abort the landing as they approached the surface.

Alan Shepard on lunar surface. (NASA)

EVAs

Shepard and Mitchell named their landing site Fra Mauro Base, and this designation is recognized by the International Astronomical Union (depicted in Latin on lunar maps as Statio Fra Mauro).

Shephard's first words, after taking his first step onto the lunar surface, were "And it's been a long way, but we're here." Unlike Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Apollo 12's Pete Conrad, Shepard had already gotten off the ladder and was a few meters from the LM before he spoke.

Shepard's moonwalking suit was the first to utilise red bands on the arms and legs and a red stripe on the top of the lunar EVA sunshade "hood", so as to allow easy identification of the commander while on the surface; on the Apollo 12 pictures, it had been almost impossible to distinguish between the two crewmen, causing a great deal of confusion. This feature was included on Jim Lovell's Apollo 13 suit, but because of the accident on that mission, it was not used. It was used on the remaining three Apollo flights and is used on both the U.S. and Russian spacesuits on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Panoramic Assembly of Fra Mauro - Apollo 14 Landing Site

After landing in the Fra Mauro formation - the destination for Apollo 13 - Shepard and Mitchell took two moon walks, adding new seismic studies to the by now familiar Apollo experiment package, and using a "lunar rickshaw" pull cart to carry their equipment. Roosa, meanwhile, took pictures from on board command module Kitty Hawk in lunar orbit.

The second moonwalk, or EVA, was intended to reach the rim of the 1,000 foot (300 m) wide Cone Crater. However, the two astronauts were not able to find the rim amid the rolling terrain of the crater's slopes. Later analysis, using the pictures that they took, determined that they had come within 65 feet (20 m) of the crater's rim.

This TV image shows Alan Shepard golfing on the Moon

Shepard and Mitchell deployed and activated various scientific instruments and experiments and collected almost 100 pounds (45 kg) of lunar samples for return to earth. Other Apollo 14 achievements included: the only use of Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET); longest distance traversed by foot on the lunar surface; first use of shortened lunar orbit rendezvous techniques; first use of color TV with new vidicon tube on lunar surface and the first extensive orbital science period conducted during CSM solo operations.

The astronauts also engaged in less serious activities. Shepard brought a makeshift six iron golf club and two golf balls to the Moon, and took several swings (one-handed, due to the limited flexibility of the EVA suit). He exuberantly, and somewhat whimsically, exclaimed that the second ball went "miles and miles and miles" in the lunar gravity, but later estimated it actually went 200 to 400 yards (180 to 370 m). Mitchell then used a lunar scoop handle as a javelin, creating the first 'Lunar Olympics'. Before the flight, backup crew members Cernan, Evans and Engle played a joke on the astronauts by stashing their own crew patches in every single locker and compartment in the spacecraft. Whenever one of the patches would float out of a locker during the mission, Shepard would say "Tell Cernan, BEEP-BEEP my ass!"

Depiction of the plaque left on the moon by Apollo 14

Return

On the way back to Earth, the crew conducted the first U.S. materials processing experiments in space. The Apollo 14 astronauts were the last lunar explorers to be quarantined on their return from the Moon.

Roosa, who worked in forestry in his youth, took several hundred tree seeds on the flight. These were germinated after the return to Earth, and widely distributed around the world as commemorative Moon Trees.

Mission insignia

The oval insignia shows a gold NASA Astronaut Pin, given to U.S. astronauts upon completing their first space flight, traveling from the earth to the moon. A gold band around the edge includes the mission and astronaut names. The designer was Jean Beaulieu.

Command Module Kitty Hawk on display at Astronaut Hall of Fame

The backup crew spoofed the patch with its own version, with revised artwork showing the Road Runner cartoon character on the moon, holding a U.S. flag and a flag labeled "1st Team," as a gray-bearded (for Shepard, who was 47 at the time of the mission and the oldest man on the Moon), pot bellied (for Mitchell, who had a pudgy appearance), red furred (for Roosa's red hair) Wile E. Coyote flies in place of the astronaut pin. The flight name is replaced by "BEEP BEEP" and the backup crew's names are given. Several were left as "gotchas" on the Kitty Hawk.

Spacecraft location

The Apollo 14 Command Module Kitty Hawk is in storage for future display at the Saturn V Center building at KSC after being on display at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, Florida for several years.

The ascent stage of Lunar Module Antares impacted the Moon 7 February 1971 at 00:45:25.7 UT (6 February, 7:45 PM EST) 3.42° S, 19.67 W. Antares' descent stage and the mission's other equipment remain at Fra Mauro at 3.65° S, 17.47° W; they are, by far, the most visible Apollo hardware in the photographs from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter released on 17 July 2009, owing to particularly good lighting conditions when the images were captured.