February 9: Apollo 14 Returns to Earth

On 9 February 1971, the day the Apollo 14 returned to earth.

The Apollo 14 marked the third landing on the moon. The crew consisted of Edgar Mitchell, Stuart Roosa, and the commander Alan Shepard. This was the same Alan Shepard that was the first American to enter space. Alan Shepard left the space program for a short amount of time due to a medical issue that prevented him from flying. However, after a surgery, he was able to fly again. The goal of this mission was to complete the task the the Apollo 13 was assigned, but unable to complete due to the tragic accident that befell it.

On the moon, the crew was tasked with collecting rocks and taking photos of the Fra Mauro highlands where they landed. It was during this time that one of the most famous events of space history occurred. Alan Shepard took out a golf club and golf balls and hit two of them. He claimed that one went “miles and miles and miles” due to the low gravity. On the return trip, they managed to land successfully on the earth, helping NASA recover from the previous Apollo launch.

This relates to the soon to land, Expedition 45 which has just been sent up to the International space station. While this launch’s goal isn’t the moon, the ISS is still important to the discovery of space. The ISS is a collaboration of many nations, unlike the space race, showing how far the world has come since the cold war era. The Apollo 14 aimed at understanding the moon, but only a few hours could be spent on the moon. However, the ISS allows for constant life in space, with the station being up for over 6000 days. Without new people and new technology arriving, the station would not be able to perform its task which may allow people to live in space someday.
–Connor Heffernan

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