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tv   Reel America Apollo 14 Mission to Fra Mauro - 1971  CSPAN  August 13, 2021 2:00pm-2:31pm EDT

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on the moon. then apollo 11 astronaut michael collins, national air and space museum director, and former nasa administrator reflect on the political and foreign policy impact of the apollo program. and later, air force veteran and former nasa flight director gene kranz discusses his life and career culminating with stories about apollo 11 and apollo 13. >> may 5, 1961. freedom 7. the united states took the first small step on its journey to the moon. america's first man in space,
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allan shepard, rode the mercury capsule. road it 116 miles to the 178,000 pounds of thrust. ten years later, the launch vehicle is saturn 5 with. a thrust of 7.5 million pounds. the crew of apollo 13 would leave on their mission to the moon. the man who began our first decade of manned space flight would command a mission that would close that decade. allan shepard. with him, stuart roosa who would orbit the moon alone while edgar mitchell explored the surface. it was called fra mauro. apollo 13 aborted as it neared the moon had been unable to land at this site.
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now we were trying again. but why fra mauro? >> what happened to the moon during its first billion years? a period erased on earth? how did the earth and moon differ in overall composition? by visiting fra mauro, we hope to sample the very bed rock of the moon. material very different from that so far collected. material dating back to perhaps the beginning of the solar system. >> how can you think of the soil being 4.5 billion years old when the rocks which presumably underlie are only 3.7 billion years old. >> this site we suppose will be dramatically refuted or confirmed at the apollo 14 mission when they actually visit. >> most of the activity is associated with one place on the moon and we have tentatively located that place in or near the crater fra mauro.
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>> everything went smoothly during earth orbit and for the burn that sent apollo 14 toward the moon. then stuart roosa moved the command module kitty hawk to a docking with the lunar module
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antares, still attached to the third stage of the booster. >> we are unable to capture. >> twice they tried. three times. >> okay, houston. a pretty good four seconds. contact but we did not match. we'd better back off here and think about this one. >> as the astronauts waited, an identical docking probe was brought into mission control. this probe on the command module fits into a funnel-like device on the lunar module called a drove. tiny catches on the probe's point engage it. it was these capture l.a.s that were not holding. in space, the astronauts tried a fourth time. and a fifth. >> no latch.
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>> no latch. >> in space, on earth, they searched for a solution. then on the sixth try -- >> it locked. >> as they coasted to the moon, the crew brought the probe inside the spacecraft for examination. on earth, the probe was tested and retested. for we had to be sure that the probe would work for the most critical docking. as shepard and mitchell returned from the lunar surface. on february 4, apollo 14 went into orbit around the moon. >> this is really a wild place up here. >> as apollo 14 was on its first orbit, the third stage of the booster smashed into the moon at its planned target point. its impact pickett up
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sizemometer by 12. the structure of the moon's interior is one of the major mysteries of lunar science. now another piece was add that had could help solve the puzzle. later that day they climbed into the lunar module antares and undocked. as they checked out the lunar module, a problem appeared. an erroneous abort was being signaled on board antares and in mission control. should this occur during the landing burn, antares would abort automatically and the landing would be off. the mission control team had two hours. the time of one lunar orbit to find a solution. flight controller dick thorsen
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diagnosed the problem as a loose button. it then came to rest on the shoulders of the computer programmer donald. working at m.i.t. in massachusetts, he reprogrammed the computer to ignore the false signal. this new program was then checked out in a simulator at cape kennedy. as antares came into contact with earth again, the instructions were sent up to the crew. >> antares houston. >> a nice job. >> less than 10 miles above the alonar surface, shepard and mitchell swept across the landing site. >> antares houston. you're good. >> a beautiful day to land at fra mauro. >> then another problem. the landing radar which would tell them their altitude above the lunar surface.
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>> radar. radar. >> they would like to cycle the landing radar. >> okay. recycle. >> okay. accept the radar. >> this is so great. >> okay. monitor the fuel. >> ten seconds to go. >> over. >> and there it is! right on the money. beautiful. right out the window. >> a go for landing. a major part of the mission for fra mauro, a hole blasted in the moon's surface eons ago that could provide a scientific clue to the history of the moon, the earth, and the solar system.
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>> we think of the fra mauro that it was created to the north. if this is the case, we could get samples torn out from as deep as 60 miles in the lunar crust. all in all, the fra mauro material should contain a great deal of new information about the early history of the moon and thus help us to better understand the formation of our own earth. >> 200 feet. it looks good. the fuel looks great. it looks like you're going right over it. 370 feet out. you're looking good. okay. move on.
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you're on your own. okay. looking great. >> 60 seconds. >> 40 feet. three feet per second. 30. three feet per second. 20 feet. 10. three feet per second. contact. >> auto! auto! we're on the surface. okay. we made it to the landing. >> five and a half hours later, shepard left the lunar module to begin the first of two explorations. ten years later, 114 hours, 22 minutes after leaving earth,
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alan shepard was on the surface. >> okay. it's been a long way. we're here. >> four minutes later he was joined by ed mitchell. following the tradition of two previous missions, shepard and mitchell planted the flag in the lunar soil. the next job was to load the met, a rickshaw type wagon they would use to transport their tools of exploration and collect its samples. >> one of the big factors in lunar exploration is mobility. in apollo 14, we had the met
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which let us move further afield than the previous two missions. in the future we'll use the lunar rover, a sort of moon dune buggy. this means less spent getting here to there and more time collecting scientific data. >> we'll stop here and rest. it is heavier than we expected. >> shepard pulled the met while mitchell carried the bar bell shaped package containing a station they would assemble, designed to continue broadcasting data to earth for a year after men departed fra mauro. >> okay. we're proceeding. >> we described before. >> a deep hole. very deep depression compared to what it looked like.
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>> roger. the arm is up right now. >> nothing like being up to your arm pits in literal garbage. >> finding a suitable site to place the scientific instruments was the next order of business. shepard and mitchell now began setting up the automatic scientific laboratory. a small nuclear generator to power the array. the central station to transmit data to earth. a sizeometer to detect on and within the moon. a series of three experiments to measure charged particles near the lunar surface. an independent experiment to reflect laser beams from earth enabling extremely precise measurements as thing like earth to moon distance. the wobble of the earth's axis,
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continental drift and shifts of the earth's crust. and a mortar to be fired by a signal from earth sometime in the next year. the impact of the charges would be picked up by apollo 14's sizometer. as a sign exercise, mitchell use a thumper to control the shotgun type charges. the vibrations from these detonations were picked up by a series of instruments he had previously deployed. with the instruments set up and operating, they headed back toward antares pausing on the way to collect samples. they load i had it on the lunar module. after four hours and 50 minutes on the surface, climbed back into antares.
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as shepard and mitchell rooftd, stuart roosa continued his work from lunar orbit. his photographs would have meaning not only to the scientific community but it would have direct bearing on the planning for coming missions. >> a sunny day again. >> yeah. a beautiful day here. >> 12 hours and 40 minutes later, shepard and mitchell began their second 40-minute exploration period. after loading the lunar rickshaw, mitchell began to explore. shepard adjusted the television camera. then hurried to join his partner.
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>> okay, houston, we're headed just about toward -- >> okay. not quite in the valley over here. >> okay. this is probably pretty good. >> point "a," the first stop on the trip. here they would collect and document samples, measure the local magnetic field and take core tube samples from beneath the surface layer. >> this is a good place for "a." they have an appearance here quite often like rain drops. a very few rain drops have splattered the surface. >> the quality of the scientific description by the astronauts
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could be termed by earth-based scientists only as excellent. but now shepard and mitchell pushed on. after a brief stop at a second survey site, they began their assault on cone crater. a climb not only toward the summit of a alonar mountain but back through time. >> the large crater acts in many respects like a drill. throwing out material from deep beneath the surface. this material should be very different from any we've collected before. perhaps dating back to the origins of the moon and even the solar system. >> we're starting uphill now. fairly gentle but definitely uphill. >> take a break. get ma'am and find out exactly
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where we are. >> the maps they were using had been used from photography from lunar oeshl. the ridges and boulders took on a new appearance when seen from the surface. >> it looks kind of flat over there, the way it's leaning. >> just one second. >> three speed. >> we're going up. i think it is easier. >> we're really going to get a panorama. it is here already. anyway, i point to the rim. >> we're at the top here.
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>> okay. well, that's the column over there. and we're about two hours now. >> that's at least 30 minutes up there. >> it is longer than we expected. >> now they were working against time. against the oxygen and water left in their backpacks. against the alien terrain. the ridge, thinking it is the rim of the crater and there's another ridge ahead of you. >> i don't think we'll have time to go up there. >> let's give it a whirl. it's clear. >> okay. >> we'll press on. >> okay. and as of right now, we have a
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30-minute extension. >> it looks like we'll be approaching it very shortly. >> okay. we are going to reconoiter here. >> standing by rocks ten to 12 feet long, the astronauts made their most difficult decision. with the conoccurrence of mission control, they stopped their climb. less than 150 feet from the edge to begin the more important job of collecting samples. >> the crew had no way of realizing they were so close. it was a week after the mission before we determined this by photographic analysis. >> while they could overcome the terrain, they could not beat the steady drain of oxygen from
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their backpacks. in the terms of scientific meaning, the decision not to go on to the rim meant little. in human terms, a great disappointment. >> one of these boulders is broken open. the it is brown on the inside and the outside is white. and another one is white, right in the same area. >> the white rock is of different composition than apollo 11 and 12 rocks. in fact all the rocks so far is different than those rocks. potassium and uranium are ten times higher which is what we might expect because the fra mauro rocks are much older this is what we were expecting. >> it was time to head back to the lunar module.
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>> after a quick side trim to check on the science station, they loaded the lunar module with scientific data and stepped off the surface. the second expedition had lasted 4:35. a total exploration of a record nine and a half hours. 33 and a half hours after they landed, alan shepard and edgar mitchell lifted off in the silent vacuum of the moon. >> the engine is armed. 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. >> what a liftoff! >> and liftoff. >> roger ignition. >> boom!
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>> ten seconds. >> roger. >> hey, baby, it's good. >> looking good, houston. >> roger, you're looking good from down here. >> be off on one minute. >> half an hour later, stuart rooso watched their progress from kitty hawk. >> what are you doing right now, oh fearless one? >> you've lost a little weight since the last time i saw you. >> about 100 feet, closing in a little more. roger, command module. >> okay. make it smooth.
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>> and around we go. >> show us a little style. oh, you look good. >> fair weather at 240,000. coming over. >> would you believe 360,000? >> yeah. >> kitty hawk doing an extremely smooth loop at 370 feet. watching him go around. he looks very clean. >> the inspection complete, antares and kitty hawk moved together for docking. >> apollo 14. this is houston. you're here for the docking. >> roger, we've got you.
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>> okay. we've got you. >> and we've got a hard dock. >> a big sigh of relief. >> they transferred to kitty hawk, buttoned up, it would crash into the moon at a predetermined spot. its impact picked up by their seismometer. 149 hours after they left earth, they performed the burn that broke them out of lunar oeshd. during the coast to earth there would be time to catch up on sleep and relax and do all the little things left undone. and there was one more item. a series of scientific demonstrations in zero gravity. demonstrations impossible to
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reproduce on earth. these trials looked at basic physical properties of matter in zero gravity. studies that could lead to new materials manufactured in space for use on earth. on february 9, 1971, nine days after they left earth, the crew of apollo 14 hit the planet at a speed of 124,000 miles per hour. they hurdled toward earth. on board, 95 pounds of the moon. >> extremely important. it relates to the question of why we're fooling around with the moon. the imprint of solar system history is centered on the moon for the first billion years.
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>> what we hope to gain is, we have a window right now between t-0, the beginning of the solar system, and when the earth so messed up itself that we can't look at it any more. we would like to look in there. that window is on the moon. >> apollo 14 has already had a very big scientific impact and we still have three missions left. they will be heading into even more rugged and more interesting areas of the moon. beginning with apollo 15, the lunar rover will let us range further afield and collect more and more varied scientific samples of information. the study of the moon and how, for instance, elements and minerals are distributed in its crust will enable us to learn more about the process of crust
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formation on earth, leading to a better understanding of the way certain elements concentrate in the crust. will we have had enough missions to the moon by the end of the apollo program? probably not. you can never have enough knowledge. at least it is an excellent beginning.
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