More Space Anniversaries: Apollo 14 and Ham

by Nancy Atkinson on January 31, 2011

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Forty years ago today, the Apollo 14 crew launched on their Saturn V rocket, the 6th human flight to the Moon and the third that landed. Following the heart-stopping problems of Apollo 13, almost ten months elapsed before Commander Alan Shepard (the first American in space), Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell set off on January 31, 1971. They reached the Moon on February 5, and Shepard and Mitchell walked the Fra Mauro highlands, originally been the target of the aborted Apollo 13 mission. The two astronauts had to scrap a planned rock-collecting trip to the 1,000 foot wide Cone Crater when they became disoriented and almost got lost. Interestingly, recent images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter revealed they were only a little over 30 yards from the crater’s rim when they gave up the search. But they did have many successes as well.


You can read more about Apollo 14 on this NASA website.

Chimpanzee Ham after the successful Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) suborbital flight. Credit: NASA

Also on this date 50 years ago was the flight that made Alan Shepard’s suborbital Mercury flight possible: the Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) mission carrying Ham, a four-year-old male chimpanzee. The suborbital flight lasted a total of 16 minutes and 39 seconds, and carried the spacecraft 422 nautical miles from the launch site at Cape Canaveral, FL, reaching a maximum altitude of 157 statute miles. The flight reached all its objectives, paving the way for human flights.

When you think about it, 10 years from Ham to Apollo 14 is pretty amazing. But we’re not likely to ever see anything like that again.

Read more about Ham’s flight and see more pictures on NASA’s Life Sciences Database website.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Steven Colyer January 31, 2011 at 6:43 AM

Today is also the 53rd anniversary of American Space Exploration.

Explorer 1 was launched this day in 1958, becoming the 3rd satellite in orbit along with Sputniks 1 and 2.

Aqua January 31, 2011 at 10:07 AM

“…we’re not likely to ever see anything like that again.” I beg to disagree! All it would take would be one major break-thru in spacecraft propulsion, which may happen sooner than assumed!

Go VASIMR !

Nafin January 31, 2011 at 10:47 AM

That’s some impressive footage. Great shot of separation.

ultimate_guy January 31, 2011 at 11:11 AM

It is awesome to think where the next 40 years are going to take us – !

Paul Eaton-Jones February 1, 2011 at 2:57 AM

Forty years on and my reaction is still…… “WOW”. Stunning. It still amazes me but we did it. We actually did it. Many people under the age of 35 are blase about it or dismiss it with a shug of the shoulders and couldn’t care less. But I saw it. It’s the closest we atheists come to a religious experience.

mgjohnson February 1, 2011 at 4:52 AM

Don’t you just love that old CBS videotape of the launch? Great stuff.

William928 February 1, 2011 at 4:30 PM

@Paul and mgjohnson: I couldn’t agree more, which makes the current state of America even more disheartening.

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