Forty-three years ago today, Commander Alan Shepard and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell touched down on the surface of the moon becoming the fifth and sixth people to walk on its surface. Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa remained in lunar orbit taking pictures of the moon from that short distance, the three of them make up the crew of Apollo 14. 

Shepard and Mitchell touched down in the Fra Mauro formation, the original target of the famed Apollo 13 mission. They spent a total of 33 hours on the lunar surface including approximately nine and a half hours outside of the lander. 

Shepard was also a member of the original Mercury Seven and is the only one to make it to the moon. His first words there, after taking a few short steps, were “And it's been a long way, but we're here." These words, while appropriate for their specific journey, also nicely describe the whole of human endeavors in space; it has indeed been a long way, but finally we've made it. 

The mission lasted a total of nine days beginning on January 31, 1971 at 4:04:02 local time and is notable for several reasons. Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir seeds were taken with the crew and remained in orbit with Roosa, upon their return the seeds were germinated and later planted. Apollo 14 also holds the distinction of having accomplished the longest distance traveled by foot on the lunar surface, Shepard and Mitchel collected almost 100 pounds of lunar samples during their moon walk. 

It wasn't all serious business while on the moon. Shepard smuggled a six iron on the mission and after attaching it to the handle of a lunar excavation tool, used it to hit two golf balls of which he said went on for "miles and miles," though apocryphal.

The Apollo 14 Command Module dubbed Kitty Hawk is on display at the Kennedy Space Center.

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Tags: Moon , Space Program , Apollo 14