Skip to comments.Apollo 14 Splashed Down 40 Years Ago Today: Six Odd Things About It
Posted on 02/10/2011 10:16:04 PM PST by george76
Apollo 14 -- the safely numbered one after that, um, other one -- splashed down 40 years ago today.
Since there were no dancing-on-the-edge death-defying dramatic escapes on this one, the mission is largely lost to history. It did get NASA back on track, of course, and paved the way for as many additional moon landings as the budget could afford (three).
But there were some oddities attached to Apollo 14. Here are six:
6. The astronauts got lost on the moon.
4. Astronaut Ed Mitchell became a raving UFO loon.
2. Shepard: Least-liked Apollo astronaut?
Shepard was a Machiavellian, cold, arrogant guy whose utter lack of people skills turned many off. Hard-partying Gordo Cooper ...
(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.houstonpress.com ...
During the Apollo 14 flight he conducted private ESP experiments with his friends on Earth.
Ed Mitchell conducted those ESP tests
I have no problem with that. As for UFOs, that’s gone all the way back to the Gemini missions. If an astronaut saw it and believed it, I’m with him until proven otherwise.
I agree. ESP and mind control was investigated during the Cold War. If it was properly funded it would have been a powerful weapon for the military.
Maybe so but he was always my favorite. When I was in 7th Grade I watched Shepard's Mercury launch—about 50 miles distant—from the grounds of my junior high in Orlando. Thirty years later I got to visit his launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. It was absolutely tiny compared to the sites used for the Saturn V and later the Shuttle.
I liked Al Shepherd a hell of a lot more than that fraud john Glenn. Al was a Navy guy and also friendly with conservative Coors family as he had I think a Coors beer distributorship.
When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, ‘The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.”
NASA was good when the Germans ran it.
I always thought the coldest astronaut was John Glenn, and that his 1964 bathtub injury thankfully kept him from a Moon mission.
Yeah I liked Shepard, Lovell and Schirra - all Navy guys. I also like low key Neil Armstrong - another Navy guy. Armstrong was also a great pilot.
Wow. That site is hard to load up.
Is it some kind of spyware distribution center?
After a nine hour launch delay, Shepard also reported that the US had launched “the first wetback into space.”
LOL! Navy humor. He was the first and the first is the most dangerous.
I think some of the most amazing stuff was:
1. Getting Apollo 13 back. Doing calculations and burns on the fly. Steering the LEM as doing the burns. I mean it is really a miracle they got back.
2. Armstrong saving a Gemini and the biggest Apollo mission because he was an incredible pilot who was cool as they come.
I watched it from mine in Tampa. Cool.
Those guys used to Party Down in Cocoa Beach when I was a kid.
What aches my heart is that the "resident" of the White House and at least 49% of the American population see these events as insignificant, wasteful and crimes against the rest of humanity.
Who can ever forget the Alan Shepard prayer from the first Mercury launch?
Of course, they are pilots.
My neighbor was the accountant.
I had the priviledge of meeting him later that year... which for a 16 year old kid (who closely followed the space program) was a dream come true.
I had just left my high school (Admiral Farragut Academy) for the summer, and went to France where my parents lived. I got home, still in my uniform, and my dad said "Alan Shepard is in town getting an honary wine society award...let's go".
Once in the small town square, packed with people, someone approached me and asked me to stay put... he said the Admiral wanted to talk to me. Shepard noticed the uniform as he attended the same school years earlier. We chatted a few minutes... it was a real high for me.
I also read Gordon Cooper's autobiography, "Leap of Faith." I was surprised to learn that he was a fairly religious guy, very Christian. He may have been a hard partier and sinner (aren't we all?) in his younger days, but the book revealed that at least in his later days, he took his religion pretty seriously.
He also made no bones about UFOs he saw while flying jets and working at U.S. Air Force bases, and that the military and government were ruthless in making sure that personnel who saw the things kept quiet and that any film footage always disappeared.
Years later when I lived in Cape Canaveral (the town) I became friends with a retired NASA engineer who worked in all the manned space programs through Apollo. He told me the battle between astronauts and engineers over pilot control of the vehicle versus ground control, as depicted in the movie “The Right Stuff” was real. He said on one of the Apollo missions the astronauts failed to switch off the thrusters after reentry. When the parachute deployed and opened the thrusters continued to fire automatically to adjust the attitude of the capsule which was swinging like a pendulum. By the time the crew discovered the problem and switched the thrusters off they had burned through some of the parachute shroud lines. Also the capsule had descended to an altitude where vents had opened allowing fresh air into the capsule. This drew hydrazine, the thruster propellant which is highly poisonous, into the capsule where it was likely inhaled by the crew. He said he heard at the time that these guys would have to be medically monitored for life.
a few more of the astronauts of that era had Coors distributorships, IIRC...Stuart "Rusty" Roosa...the command module pilot of this same flight (14) had the distributorship for southern Mississippi, after leaving NASA.... Seems the only links I can find are those of Roosa's early (age of 61) passing
That reminds me of a scene in the movie "Apollo 13" where everyone breaks out slide rules to run calculations. It's hard to remember just how primitive the electronics back then were compared to today.
One of my all-time favorite movies.
I worked for NASA the summer of 1964, in the valve unit of the Saturn V project as a clerk typist. They were very nice to me, escorted me around to all the training facilities. At the time, they assumed that many men would be killed trying to get to the moon. So, I guess they were surprised that so few died.
“If it was properly funded it would have been a powerful weapon for the military.”
You should be smelling what I am thinking....right about......NOW.
If so, it's come to be known as the "pilots prayer" or "astronauts prayer" alternately.
The capper was, the capsule ended up in a Stable-Two position i.e. capsule inverted and the astronauts hanging from the straps. Combined with the tetroxide exposure, wave action, and capsule motion, the guys were in rough shape and ended up donning O2 masks. Brand actually passed out. Once everybody was on O2, they activated the recovery balloons and righted the capsule.
Apollo missions were never "smooth as silk", but those guys definitely had the right stuff to handle the rough times with nary a batted eye. (Just don't ask Tom Stafford about his colorful language when he accidentally hit an abort switch in the LM during Apollo 10. :-) )
I was right out of college, living in Houston apt. with a lot of NASA people...some very close to the Mercury 7 and Gemini. I met several of them including Glenn and Armstrong.
At the time Glenn was the national hero, and one of mine. I met him and his family. I was very disappointed the first time I met him...not very friendly. One good thing about him...he probably was the best husband and father of the bunch...wife was very sweet. He wasn't one of the party boys.
I think some of them had trouble handling the celebrity that went with job. They were unknown pilots and suddenly were famous and recognized everywhere they went. I don't think NASA had a program to help them handle the instant fame. Glenn made the comment he couldn't balance his checkbook...people were keeping, not cashing his checks.
I did get a lot of autographed pictures of all of the original 7 and Gemini astronauts.
It was a fun time...especially to be young and living in Houston.
What was Armstrong’s military rank when he commanded Apollo 11?
Read Lovell’s Book.
He had the same problem while flying a Phantom off Japan that he had on Apollo 13. Only difference is that he caused the problem in the Phantom.
I got to hear him speak a few years ago. Very entertaining guy.
Well they supposedly did all the calculations on a primitive IBM mainframe and that would take weeks to run. After the accident on 13, they were doing stuff on the fly. I am still amazed they made it back.
Indeed he was a civilian. Mr Neil Armstrong.
It’s why he was chosen to be the commander. The Air Force wanted one of their guys, the Navy one of their’s.
He was the compromise.
One day I met the man who put the astronauts in the capsules for all the programs. He was a very interesting man. He said they were pretty much all nice guys.
He also said Alan Shepard was very aware of what he was sitting on. Doesn't sound Machiavellian to me. It sounds humble.
He was also exactly the same weight and build as Gus Grissom and they used him to fit and work on his space suit for Apollo 1. That incident brought tears to his eyes.
Who doesn't well up just a little when they think of that big USA going straight to heaven when they launched the Saturn 5? I want that American back, Barky Milhous No-NASA.
I’ve never read the book, but I love the movie version. Also, the late Deke Slayton wrote I think a couple of books, in one of which he states his reason for the impossibility of Grissom having manually blown that hatch.
I love that scene where some big hat characters blow Shepard off, “where’s Glenn?” and Shepard vows to his wife that he would walk on the Moon. :’)
He wrote the best book ever on the 60s counterculture, "The Electric Koolaid Acid Test," about Ken Kesey, etc. Another book, "The Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby," is a priceless and fabulous chronicle of the wonderful car culture of America. As a writer, he's hilarious, and has had me laughing out loud while reading many times. He's just witty and funny and cuts through liberal hypocrisy like no one else.
The neat thing about Tom Wolfe (whose "The Right Stuff" kind of put Chuck Yeager -- the legendary test pilot who broke the sound barrier -- on the map in that it let America know about this hitherto mostly unknown hero) is that although he looks and dresses like a New York City dandy and elitist (I believe he's a Virginian by birth), he absolutly recognizes, understands, and respects people who may not have much in the way of formal education (to put it mildly), culture or polish, but who are extraordinarily intelligent and American.
Tom Wolfe is one of the best chroniclers -- maybe THE best -- of mid to late 20th Century America. I love his work. It's so odd, that he looks and seems as if he would be a super-snob, but the reality is that he's the opposite.
I loved the movie "The Right Stuff" and watch it several times a year, but the book is a thousand times better. For me, the book motivated me to read both of Yeager's autobiographies (yes, he wrote two! "Yeager" and "Press On"), Gordon Cooper's autobio "Leap of Faith," and a few other books about space whose titles escape me. I also read Lovell's book on Apollo 13.
Two of my favorite quotes from Yeager:
"I've always said that the rules are made for people who aren't willing to make up their own."
"My legacy, I suppose, is speed. But looking back, I don't think many people save a lot of time by moving faster from one point to the next, because from the time you're born until the time you die, it's pretty cut and dried. You have to take advantage of time, not speed."
You should also add “Man In Full” as essential reading from the Tom Wolfe catalog. That is probably my favorite Wolfe book. I especially like the “workout session” that the in-over-his-head tycoon gets put through by the bank and the part where the hard-luck kid who loses his job in the frozen food plant tries to get a job as a typist in the city, ends up getting his car towed and gets harangued by his wife and mother-in-law when he calls them on his last dime looking for some money.
Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t read that one — don’t know how I missed it! THANKS!
Did you spot Chuck Yeager’s cameo in the movie?
Yes, he was in DH's cousin Pancho's bar.
A book you might enjoy, about another major player from that era and especially beyond, is Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.
Check out his Wiki entry.
Yeager plays the bartender if I recall.
If you watch that scene again you’ll notice that the astronauts make a toast to someone, and when they raise their glasses it’s in the direction of Chuck Yeager. I’ve wondered if that was intentional, if those actors wanted to honor Yeager.
“in DH’s cousin Pancho’s bar.”
I saw a documentary recently “The Legend of Pancho Barnes”, it was really excellent, you should try to see it:
Oh yeah. OT, his memoir is excellent.
MY HP 12C calculator had more computing capabilities than the computers on board those flights. Amazing
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