Apollo 14
Launch Date Jan. 31, 1971
Launch Site Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA | Launch Complex 39A
Destination Earth’s Moon
Type Orbiter, Lander, Sample Return
Status Successful
Nation United States
Alternate Names N/A

Goals

Deploy and conduct experiments, take photographs, bring lunar rock and soil samples to Earth.

Accomplishments

Carried out the longest list of experiments on the lunar surface and in lunar orbit as of that time, demonstrated that reasonably long distances can be covered on foot on the Moon, brought almost 43 kg (95 lbs) of lunar samples to Earth.

Crew

Commander: Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

Lunar module (Antares) Pilot: Edgar D. Mitchell

Command Module (Kitty Hawk) Pilot: Stuart A. Roosa

Key Dates

Jan. 31, 1971: Launch

Feb. 4, 1971: Lunar Orbit Insertion

Feb. 5, 1971: Lunar Landing

Feb. 6, 1971: Lunar Surface Departure

Feb. 9, 1971: Recovery on Earth

In Depth

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 23 pounds or 10 kilograms (lunar weight, the equivalent of 138 pounds or 63 kilograms 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 until then with boots on the lunar ground, and covered a distance of about 2.1 miles (almost 3.5 kilometers). They deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) and a solar-wind collector, took photographs and collected more than 93 pounds (42 kilograms) 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 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 880 miles (1,417 kilometers) south of American Samoa. The astronauts and capsule were recovered by the USS New Orleans. Total mission elapsed time was 216 hours, 1 minute, 58 seconds. 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.

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle: Saturn V

Spacecraft Mass: 64,439 pounds (29,229 kilograms)

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

Additional Resources

NASA: Apollo 14

NASA: Apollo

NASA History Program Office: The Apollo Program

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal

Apollo Flight Journal

Apollo Expeditions to the Moon

Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of Apollo Lunar Exploration Missions

Lunar and Planetary Institute: Apollo Missions

Apollo: Where Are They Now?

NASA Astronaut Biographies: Former Astronauts

Earth's Moon News