You are here

More Apollo 14

February 5, 2011

APOLLO 14: We're at 90 feet, five feet per second, four feet per second down.

When Apollo 13 was forced to abort its mission to the Moon, it left some unfinished business. Scientists still wanted to visit its planned landing site. So they gave the job to the next mission, Apollo 14. Astronauts Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell touched down in the region known as Fra Mauro 40 years ago today.

APOLLO 14: Three feet per second. Contact, Al! We're on the surface. MISSION CONTROL: Roger, Antares. APOLLO 14: That was a beautiful one. We landed on a slope, but otherwise we're in great shape -- right on the landing site.

Fra Mauro formed from the debris blasted out when a giant asteroid slammed into the Moon billions of years ago. So samples from the region would probe the ancient lunar crust -- perhaps from far below the surface.

The Apollo 14 landing site was also near Cone Crater, a fresh impact crater that was about three times wider than a football field. Shepard and Mitchell tried to make it to the rim, but it was a tough climb, and they weren't quite sure how close they were. So they were forced to turn back a few dozen feet short of their goal.

Even so, they collected dozens of samples, snapped hundreds of pictures, and set up instruments that worked for months or years after the astronauts had gone. So the crew of Apollo 14 provided a good look at an intriguing region of the Moon -- and took care of some unfinished business.

APOLLO 14: If I take a look at Cone Crater, which is right where it should be, and is a very impressive sight.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Get Premium Audio

Listen to today's episode of StarDate on the web the same day it airs in high-quality streaming audio without any extra ads or announcements. Choose a $8 one-month pass, or listen every day for a year for just $30.