Apollo 14 – Golf on the Moon

The Apollo 14 mission to the Moon did not fly until January 1971 after modifications were made to the Service Module to prevent an accident such as had hit Apollo 13 from happening again.

Apollo 14’s Aan Shepard with a cart used to transport tools and cameras on the lunar surface. Image credit: NASA

Apollo 14 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on January 31, its destination the Fra Mauro hills that had been the intended landing site for the previous abandoned landing.

The mission was commanded by Alan Shepard, who had been America’s first man in space, on his second spaceflight. With him were Stuart Roosa as Command Module pilot and Ed Mitchell, as Lunar Module pilot. Both were rookie astronauts making their one and only trips into space.

As they left Earth orbit for the Moon, the astronauts had some trouble docking with the Lunar Module, Antares. Six attempts had to be made before the catches successfully connected. After that, it was plain sailing for the rest of the outward voyage, and Shepard and Mitchell landed on February 5, leaving Roosa to orbit in the Command Service Module, Kitty Hawk.

The two men made two excursions from their lander, spending a total of 9 hours 23 minutes outdoors. They set out the usual ALSEP experiments and also collected more than 42 kg of lunar rock samples that would be shared with scientists around the world. At the end of the second EVA, Shepard used an improvised golf club to hit two golf balls that he had brought with him.

The Apollo 14 command module splashes down in the sea. Image credit: NASA

Antares’ ascent stage blasted off from the Moon on February 6 to rejoin the Kitty Hawk in orbit. The Lunar Module was then sent crashing into the Moon, to provide more data for the seismology experiments, before the mothership headed home. The astronauts splashed down in the Pacific to be picked up by the USS New Orleans.

Next: Apollo 15 – the crew’s brought wheels