The Second Decade: 1971–1980
Apollo 14 was originally targeted for Taurus-Littrow but was diverted by the Apollo 13 abort to Fra Mauro. The mission was delayed for forty minutes by weather resembling the conditions for Apollo 12, and it surprised some observers to see the lift-off going ahead in very murky skies at 16:03 hrs local time. The parking orbit was 186 km (116 miles) and 32.4° inclination. The all-rookie crew in terms of orbital space flight, with only commander Alan Shepard having any space flight experience (a mere sub-orbital lob in 1961), were placed on their trans-lunar coast with no difficulty. CMP Stuart Roosa closed in for the transposition and docking but couldn’t dock. A drama unfolded as Roosa tried six times, at last succeeding after 106 minutes. If the docking mechanism was faulty, the Moon landing would have to be cancelled. Once the Lunar Module Antares and Command Module Kitty Hawk were joined up, Shepard and his crew inspected the docking probe, but could not explain the earlier difficulty. NASA deliberated for a while before announcing that the Moon landing attempt would proceed.
KeywordsLanding Site Lunar Orbit Orbital Module Manned Space Maximum Altitude
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