Apollo 14 and 15

Published: 1971
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Unknown Speaker: “40 feet, 30, 20 feet, 10, contact… We’re on the surface”

Announcer: Four more Americans made it to the moon in 1971. In two separate flights they achieved more space first, more records and more excitement.

The first pair in the Antares moon ship made the closest to the target landing of all Apollos. Alan Shepard, America's first and oldest astronaut climbed out of the lunar craft first.

Unknown Speaker: “Okay, how beautiful, we can see you coming down the ladder right now. Looks like you are about on the bottom step and on the surface. Not bad for an old man.”

Alan Shepard: “Okay, you are right… in the surface. It has been a long way, but we are here.”

Announcer: Along with Ed Mitchell, Shepard hiked the region of the moon in a two part, 33 and 1 1/2 hour scientific expedition. They brought back to earth 96 pounds of rock, some of which dated back over four billion years. But before returning to earth, Shepard pulled out a bogus six iron and gained the envy of all the duffers of the world.

Alan Shepard: “Houston, while you're looking that up, you might recognize what I have in my hand is the handle for the contingency sample return; it just so happens to have a genuine six iron on the bottom of it. In my left hand, I have a little white pellet that's familiar to millions of Americans. I'll drop it down. Unfortunately, the suit is so stiff, I can't do this with two hands, but I'm going to try a little sand-trap shot here. Got more dirt than ball. Here we go again.”

Fred Wallace Haise: “That looked like a slice to me, Al.”

Alan Shepard: “Here we go. Straight as a die; one more. Miles and miles and miles.”

Announcer: America's next group left in July on what NASA called the most successful man flight ever achieved. When Dave Scott and James Irwin got to the surface of the moon, there wasn't a paved highway, but there wasn't any traffic either. You could be sure they were the only two on the moon, and the only two on the moon driving a car.

David Scott: “The Rover handles quite well. We're moving at, I guess, an average of about 8 kilometers an hour. It's got very low damping compared to the one-g Rover, but the stability is about the same. It feels like we need the seat belts, doesn't it, Jim?”

James Irwin: “Yeah, really do.“

David Scott: “The steering is quite responsive even with only the rear steering. It does quite well. There doesn't seem to be too much slip. I can maneuver pretty well with the thing.”

Announcer: The men explored the moon surface and the electric moonbuggy for 18 hours and 37 minutes, but their most enthusiastic moment seemed to be when they were picking up rock samples.

David Scott: “I wish we could just sit down and play with the rocks for a while. Look at these things. They’re shiny, sparkling.”

Announcer: So after missing a moon landing in 1970, the Apollo 14 and 15 moon missions of 1971 put the United States that much closer to the end of its Apollo series of spaceflights.

For Russia, the year in space was both triumphant and tragic. They launched the world's first space station in April, and they had a successful docking with Soyuz 10. They sent rockets to Mars, which landed and sent back important and valuable scientific information.

But the Russian successes in space during 1971 were overshadowed by a black shroud of grief.

On June the 30th, after almost 24 days in space, Soviet's Soyuz 11 headed back to earth. The three cosmonauts aboard had set a new space endurance record. They had successfully docked with an unmanned space station, and now they were only a short time away from a hero's welcome through Red Square. Cosmonauts are Russia's biggest heroes.

If you were a Russian in Moscow that day, you would have heard the solemn tone voice of the radio announcer.

Unknown Speaker: [Russian]

Announcer: The ship made a soft, safe landing. A helicopter recovery group opened the hatch of the capsule, and there, still strapped into their seats were the three Soviet cosmonauts. Their faces frozen into expressionless masks. Three Soviet heroes, whose bodies were still, three Soviet cosmonauts dead.