Apollo 14 is the third NASA mission to successfully land on the moon on February 5 and 1971 in a region called Fra Mauro.
This is the first mission that landed on a plateau on the Moon near the Cone crater, which was very interesting to geologists.
Welcome to the channel dedicated to science and astronomy, Gravity Maneuver.
In this video we will thoroughly go through the Apollo 14 mission,
and see what the astronauts discovered and we will see with which problems they fought during the mission.
After the disaster with the Apollo 13 mission, when the oxygen tank exploded, which almost claimed the lives of three astronauts,
trust in NASA was seriously undermined and there was a threat to the entire Apollo program of being terminated.
The next planned mission, Apollo 14, was planned for October 1970
but was postponed to the end of January 1971 , as an investigation into a malfunction on the Apollo 13 mission was underway.
The Apollo 14 mission consisted of astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Rusa and Edgar Mitchell.
Alan Shepard was the commander of the Apollo 14 mission, and he is the fifth and oldest astronaut to walk on the moon at 47 years old.
He is the second man to fly into space after Yuri Gagarin and was chosen among the first 7 astronauts of the Mercury project that preceded the Apollo program.
He was chosen as the commander of one of the first missions in the Gemini program,
but he was diagnosed with Meniere's ear disease, which causes a strong feeling of dizziness and nausea, which is why he was grounded.
In 1968, he had a sucessfull surgery and he was selected as the mission commander of Apollo 14 because of his experience and composure.
Stuart Roosa was chosen as the pilot of the command module named Kitty Hawk , after the place where the Wright brothers first flew an airplane.
At the time of the flight to the moon, Roosa was 37 years old.
Before he became an astronaut, he worked as a firefighter-paratrooper for extinguishing forest fires.
During the Apollo 9 mission, he worked as the chief communicator with the astronauts in mission control,
and soon after became an astronaut and was elected a member of the Apollo 14 mission.
Edgar Mitchell was chosen to pilot the lunar module called Antares and he is the sixth man to walk on the moon.
Prior to the Apollo 14 mission , he was a member of the reserve crew of the Apollo 9 and 10 missions.
These three astronauts spent as many as 19 months in preparation for the mission, the longest of all Apollo missions,
because NASA modified parts of their Lunar and Command Module after the conclusion of the Apollo 13 investigation.
It was originally planned that the Apollo 14 lands in Mare Serenitatis near the crater Litrw
but this idea was dropped and different location was choosen namely Fra Mauro near the Cone crater
where Apollo 13 mission was supposed to land before.
Scientists decided to make this change because the area of Fra Mauro promised better scientific data on the distant past of the Moon.
The Fra Mauro Formation is distinguished by the hilly terrain created by the deposition of ejected material from the Imbrium impact basin,
which in the distant past was formed by the fall of a large asteroid.
The scientists hoped to find exposed rocks from the deeper layers of the Moon's crust here, and it was decided that Apollo 14 would land a few hundred meters from the crater named Cone.
On January 31, 1971, a huge Saturn 5 rocket, weighing 2,950,000 kg, stood on a launch pad in Florida ready to fly to the Moon.
Weather conditions were unfavorable and the launch was postponed for 40 minutes
because NASA did not want to repeat the scenario as with Apollo 12 when lightning struck the rocket twice during takeoff.
At 4 hours and 3 minutes, Saturn 5 started its rocket engines and after 10 minutes of flight, Apollo 14 successfully entered orbit around the Earth.
Due to a 40-minute delay in launch, a faster path to the moon was chosen and the astronauts' next task was to perform a transposition maneuver.
This maneuver involved separating the Antares lunar module from the Kitty Hawk command module,
after which the command module would be rotated and finally connected to the lunar module.
During the execution of the transposition maneuver, a problem occurred because the mechanism for connecting these two modules failed.
The astronauts contacted the mission control in Houston and for the next 2 hours they tried unsuccessfully to connect these modules,
while the engineers on Earth worked in a hurry to solve this problem.
The astronauts were instructed to retract the lunar module connection detection probe and this solved the problem.
Then the third stage engines were started, and the astronauts embarked on a three-day journey to the Moon.
During the flight to the Moon, two corrective maneuvers were performed by firing rockets for 10 seconds and 1 second,
and the astronauts prepared to enter orbit around the Moon.
On February 4, the engines were started for 370 seconds and Apollo 14 successfully entered orbit.
5 hours later, it was planned to restart the engine so that the command module would send the lunar module into a lower orbit.
This was planned to save the fuel on the lunar module because the landing was more dangerous than the previous ones
and NASA wanted the astronauts to have more fuel available during the landing.
However, before the second engine start, the astronauts noticed a very serious problem on the lunar module
when the computer started reporting an error with the emergency abort program.
The mission control on Earth concluded that the problem was probably caused by a short circuit in the abort landing switch,
which was caused by a loose piece of solder, and they hired programmers to work on solving the problem.
It is fortunate that the astronauts spotted this problem in time because this command could have happened at any time during the landing
or even while the lunar module would be on the surface which would be a disaster for the astronauts.
The problem faced by the astronauts was not easy to solve because the computer on the lunar module is not like today's computers, where we can change programs when we desire.
The computer on the lunar module was made by hand and was literally woven from copper components, which means that its memory could not be changed at will.
Yet there was a small amount of memory that allowed for certain changes and programmers on Earth were busy working to find solutions.
The problem was solved by the program changes telling the computer that an emergency landing abort signal had already occurred,
and the computer would ignore incoming automated landing abort signals.
This would not prevent astronauts from operating the lunar module, but if an emergency abort were really necessary, astronauts would have to manually activate it by making changes to the computer.
Mitchell made these changes to the computer, which solved the problem and just a few minutes later, the lunar module began the sequence of landing on the moon.
When Antares was 6.7 km above the surface of the Moon, another problem befell the astronauts, when the radar system on the lunar module could not find the ground.
This deprived astronauts of data on speed and altitude, but astronauts solved this problem by resetting the computer.
If this problem had occurred at an altitude of less than 3 km above the ground, the astronauts would have had to terminate the mission according to the procedure,
but Alan Shepard later stated that he would probably try to land on the Moon despite the instructions.
During the landing, the astronauts recognized the main landmark, ie the Cone crater.
Shepard: "There's Cone crater. Right on the money!" Mitchell: "And there it is."
Shepard: "Right on the money." Mitchell: "That's it, right on the money"
Shepard: "What's the LPD, babe?"
Mitchell: "LPD, 41"
Shepard: "Ok. Fat. Fat as a goose!"
Mitchell: "Right out the window, just like it should be" Shepard: "Outstanding!"
Later, they recognized the other two landmarks, which were series of craters called triplet and doublet,
and they landed closest to the planned landing site of all the Apollo missions.
The astronauts took this panorama of the landing site from the lunar module and we see that the terrain is filled with smaller craters and rocks,
which surprised the astronauts a bit because in the photos from orbit the terrain seemed flatter.
The lunar module landed at a slight incline as we can see in this photograph taken by Alan Shepard.
After landing, the astronauts temporarily lost contact with mission control and the first lunar walk began 5 hours after landing.
Alan Shepard was the first to come to the surface, and in this great video we see his descent down the ladder of the lunar module.
Huston: "Not bad for an old man"
Shepard: "Ok. You're right.
Shepard: "Al is on the surface"
Shepard: "and it's been a long way, but we're here"
Then Edgar Mitchell came to the surface and Shepard filmed his descent down the ladder with a 16-millimeter camera.
The first task of the astronauts was to set up a TV camera and in this photo we see Shepard setting up the camera a dosen meters from the lunar module.
The footage from the TV camera was unfortunately of very poor quality and was getting worse as the mission went on.
The astronauts then set up an antenna to communicate with Earth but it was later found that they have placed it too far from the lunar module.
The astronauts complained that they could not accurately estimate the distances on the surface due to the extremely strong contrast and grayness of the surface,
which will be reflected in later research during the second lunar walk.
The astronauts then devoted themselves to setting up the American flag as we can see in this great footage.
Shepard then took a panorama of the landing site where we see the immediate surroundings around the lunar module as well as the set antenna for communication with the Earth.
Apollo 14 was the first mission to have a so-called Modular Equipment Transporter
to assist astronauts in collecting soil and rock samples, as well as in transporting scientific instruments across the surface.
They then focused on the primary goal of the first lunar walk, which was to place a package of ALSEP scientific instruments on the surface, a few hundred meters away from the lunar module.
This package consisted of a central core and the following scientific instruments:
- A passive seismometer was set up to detect earthquakes on the moon.
After the astronauts returned to Earth, this instrument detected the fall of the third stage of their rocket on the Moon, which enabled its calibration.
- The active seismometer consisted of three geophone wires that astronauts stretched 90 meters from the ALSEP central core,
and explosive devices that were activated to reveal the structure of the lunar soil by analyzing sound waves.
- Suprathermal ion detector is an instrument used for the analysis of the interaction of the solar wind with the surface as well as for the analysis of the electric potential of the surface.
- The cold cathode ion gauge was used to measure the extremely thin lunar atmosphere caused by the action of solar radiation.
- Charged Particle Lunar Environment Experiment is an instrument that measured the frequency of ions and electrons.
These instruments were powered by electricity via a radioisotope thermoelectric generator.
In addition to ALSEP instruments, astronauts have also installed a retroreflector that allows determining the distance of the Moon from the Earth by sending laser pulses to this device.
Shepard is the first astronaut to have a different space suit than his colleague Mitchell
because earlier missions showed that mission control on Earth was very difficult to distinguish a mission commander from a lunar module pilot.
Since the Apollo 14 mission, the commander has been wearing a space suit with a red stripe on his helmet, which makes it easier to identify.
The astronauts then collected soil and rock samples from the surface in their return to the lunar module
and took several photographs like this one, where we see tracks of the modular equipment transporter leading to the lunar module in the distance.
The first EVA lasted for 4 hours and 47 minutes and the astronauts returned to the lunar module to sleep and prepare for the second and last EVA.
During the second EVA, the astronauts headed to Cone Crater with a modular equipment transporter.
The astronauts expected to find their way easily via recognisable craters, but soon realized that the undulating and hilly terrain made the job difficult.
Cone Crater is located 1.5 km from the landing site and is very interesting to the geologists of the mission
because it was surrounded by a field of ejected material that revealed deeper layers of rocks.
The TV camera soon lost sight of the astronauts and the mission control relied on their comments to infer where they were on the surface.
Shepard and Mitchel thought at one point that they had seen the rim of the Cone crater,
but soon realized that it was just a hill behind which were plains similar to those they had already passed.
In this famous photo, we see Shepard holding a map in an attempt to orient himself in his surroundings to find Cone Crater.
Along the way, they photographed this large rock on the edge of the crater, and it was called the Weird Rock.
We can see that the terrain is filled with numerous hills and it is clear why the astronauts misjudged their journey because the landmarks are completely different than on Earth.
After a few hours of walking, Shepard and Mitchell became exhausted and mission control ordered them to take soil samples and return to the lunar module.
Only later, when the Lunar Orbiter photographed the landing site of the Apollo 14 mission,
do we see that the astronauts were less than 20 meters from Cone but simply did not notice it due to the slope of the ground on which they were standing.
This failure confirmed that astronauts on future missions needed a lunar rover to travel longer distances efficiently.
When they returned to the lunar module, Alan Shepard performed a performance that is probably the most recognizable thing about the Apollo 14 mission.
For years before the mission, he planned to bring two golf balls and a golf club to the moon and he succeeded!
Shepard: "miles and miles and miles..."
It turned out that his remark about "miles and miles" was not true
because the analysis of the photos showed that one ball flew 20 meters from the lunar module and the other about 35 meters.
Some geologists of the mission were a little frustrated by this performance,
as they felt that the astronauts did not put enough effort into exploring the Cone crater but had ample time to play golf on the surface.
They considered this crater to be the most important area they wanted to explore on the Moon
and also had objections to soil and rock sampling near the crater because the astronauts did not record the exact sampling sites which complicated the context of the rocks found.
They also had objections to the number of rocks collected, because of the 10 kg of material they collected near the Cone crater, as much as 9 kg was in only one rock called Big Bertha.
However, the astronauts collected a total of over 43 kg of rocks and the analysis of the "Big Bertha" suggests that it is a meteorite originating from Earth.
If this is true, it is also the oldest rock from Earth ever found which is a fantastic discovery!
The second and final EVA lasted 4 hours and 34 minutes, and the astronauts returned to the lunar module and prepared to take off for Kitty Hawk command module.
Meanwhile, Stuart Roosa did not sit waste time in the command module,
instead he photographed the lunar surface to determine the future location of Apollo 16 landing site, and made observations of the so-called Gegenschein.
Gegenschein is the name for an optical phenomenon that is visible from the Earth
and is caused by reflected light from interplanetary dust at a Lagrange 2 point between the Earth and the Sun,
and Roosa was the first to confirm this hypothesis with his observations.
Shepard and Mitchel took off from the Moon on February 6, 1971, and after 47 minutes, they docked with command module Kitty Hawk.
7 hours later, the rocket engines were started and the astronauts headed back to Earth.
After 3 days of travel, the capsule with the astronauts entered the Earth's atmosphere and the camera on the capsule recorded their descent.
On February 9 at 9 p.m., their capsule landed safely in the South Pacific where the astronauts were picked up by the ship New Orleans.
After a quarantine stay that lasted until February 27, Rusa stated that he carried 500 tree seeds with him during the mission.
These seeds were later planted across America and in a couple of countries around the world, and these trees are better known as moon trees which is really inspiring.
Apollo 14 will be remembered as a very inspiring mission that showed the desire of humanity to continue space exploration despite numerous risks,
in order to improve our understanding of the universe as well as our place in it!
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