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Apollo 14
Apollo 14 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Lander, Orbiter, Sample Return
Launch Vehicle: Saturn V
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39A
NASA Center: Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center
Spacecraft Mass: 29,229 kg (64,439 lbs)
Spacecraft Instruments: Lunar Surface Experiments:
Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP)

  • Lunar Dust Detector
  • Passive Seismic Experiment
  • Active Seismic Experiment
  • Suprathermal Ion Detector
  • Charged Particle Lunar Environment
  • Cold Cathode Ion Gauge

Lunar Field Geology
Laser Ranging Retroreflector
Solar Wind Composition
Lunar Surface Close-Up (camera)
Portable Magnetometer
Soil Mechanics
Lunar Sample Analysis
Earth Orbit and Lunar Orbit Experiments:
S-Band Transponder (CSM/LM)
Bistatic Radar
Command Module Window Meteoroid
Gegenschein from Lunar Orbit
Candidate Exploration Sites
CM Orbital Science Photography
Dim Light Photography
Lunar Mission Photography from CM
Selenodetic Reference Point Update
Trans-Earth Lunar Photography

Apollo 14, the third mission in which humans landed on the moon, was commanded by the man who had been the first American in space, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. The command module, "Kitty Hawk," was piloted by Stuart A. Roosa. Edgar D. Mitchell was pilot of the lunar module "Antares." Apart from Shepard's historic 15-minute suborbital flight, it was the first space mission for each of the astronauts.

On 5 February 1971, Shepard and Mitchell landed only 175 feet (53 meters) from their targeted landing site in a hilly upland region north of Fra Mauro crater, a scientifically important site that had been the destination of the aborted Apollo 13 mission. Roosa lifted Kitty Hawk to a higher, circular orbit, where he would conduct a number of tasks including photographing the Descartes region, which became Apollo 16's landing site, and conveying observations of prominent lunar landmarks to make landing accuracy on future missions even better.

Reinventing the Wheel

While the four previous moonwalkers had to hand-carry the supplies they needed to conduct their activities on the lunar surface, Shepard and Mitchell employed a labor-saving invention to help them: the wheel. They had a collapsible two-wheeled pull-cart nicknamed "the rickshaw" that could haul about 10 kg or 23 pounds (lunar weight, the equivalent of 63 kg or 138 pounds on Earth) of material, including a magnetometer, camera equipment, sample-collection tools and the samples, themselves.

Their two moonwalks totaled 9 hours, 23 minutes, the longest time spent so far with boots on the lunar ground, and covered a distance of about three and a half kilometers (2 miles). They deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) and a solar-wind collector, took photographs and collected more than 42 kg (93 lbs) of samples.

But the activity for which this mission might be most remembered was not on the mission task list. At the end of the second moonwalk, Shepard hit two golf balls with the head of a six-iron attached to the handle of a sample-collection tool. One of the balls was found in a crater, making this the first extraterrestrial hole in one. In a lesser known but no less significant sports milestone, Mitchell threw an improvised "javelin," which landed just beyond the found golf ball.

Return to Earth

On 6 February, after more than 33 hours on the lunar surface, Antares lifted off and rejoined Kitty Hawk in lunar orbit. The astronauts transferred themselves, their samples and equipment to the command module and sent the lunar module crashing into the moon between the Apollo 12 and Apollo 14 seismic stations.

The command module splashed down on 9 February in the Pacific Ocean, some 765 nautical miles (1,417 km) south of American Samoa. The astronauts and capsule were recovered by the USS New Orleans. Total mission elapsed time was 216 hours, 1 min, 58 sec. This was the final Apollo mission in which the astronauts were placed in quarantine upon their return.

The backup crew for this mission was Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Joe Engle. Command module Kitty Hawk is currently on display at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida.


Key Dates
31 Jan 1971:  Launch
4 Feb 1971:  Lunar Orbit Insertion
5 Feb 1971:  Lunar Landing
6 Feb 1971:  Lunar Surface Departure
9 Feb 1971:  Recovery on Earth
Fast Facts
Apollo 14 Facts Third crewed mission to the lunar surface.

Shepard was the oldest person to walk on the moon (47 years old).

The command module was named "Kitty Hawk" after the town in North Carolina where the Wright brothers made the first powered flight.

The lunar module was named "Antares" for the star it used to orient itself for lunar landing.

Except for the 15-minute suborbital flight which made Alan Shepard (above) the first American in space, this was the first spaceflight for each of the astronauts.
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
David S. McKay David S. McKay
During the Apollo program, McKay gave the first men to walk on the moon training in geology. Read More...
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Last Updated: 5 Sep 2013