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Day 8, part 2: Flashing Lights Experiment and Probe Stowage Journal Home Page Day 8, part 4: Putting the Probe to Rest

Apollo 14


Day 8, part 3: Press Conference On TV

Copyright © 2020-2023 by Johannes Kemppanen and W. David Woods All rights reserved.
Last updated 2023-09-21
After experimenting with the mysterious light flashes that have been observed by all Apollo crews and continuing the work on packing up their troublesome probe, the crew will now go live on TV again to answer some press questions.
Editor's note: All transcript times are presented according to the GET update at 054:53:36 that saw the mission timer moved forward 40 minutes, 2.90 seconds.
194:45:53 McCandless: 14, this Houston. How are you reading me, now? Over.
195:02:40 McCandless: Apollo 14, Apollo 14; this is Houston. How do you read? Over.
195:03:15 McCandless: Apollo 14, Apollo 14; this is Houston. How do you read? Over.
195:05:32 McCandless: Apollo 14, Apollo 14; this is Houston. How do you read? Over.
195:06:30 McCandless: Apollo 14, Apollo 14; this is Houston. Request Omni Charlie. Request Omni Charlie in the blind. Over.
195:06:47 McCandless: Apollo 14, this is Houston. Request Omni Charlie, Omni Charlie in the blind. Over.
195:07:31 McCandless: Apollo 14, Apollo 14; this is Houston. Requesting Omni Charlie in the blind. Over.
195:08:15 McCandless: Apollo 14, Apollo 14; this is Houston. How do you read? Over,
195:08:22 Shepard: We read you loud and clear, Houston.
195:08:24 McCandless: Roger, 14. We'd like to stow the probe temporarily in some convenient location and prepare for the press conference. I'll turn it over to Gordon, here.
195:08:37 Shepard: I took your downlink down, Bruce. You should be getting us.
195:08:39 Fullerton: Roger. We've got a beautiful picture here.
195:08:44 Shepard: We're ready to go any time.
195:08:51 Fullerton: Okay, Al. The questions that you'll be asked at this news conference have been submitted by newsmen here at the Manned Spacecraft Center who have been covering the flight.
195:09:01 Shepard: Gordo?
195:09:03 Fullerton: Go ahead, Al.
195:09:05 Shepard: Could you - could you hold on just a minute? We'll get in position to answer the questions.
195:09:09 Fullerton: All right, fine. Just let us - when - let us know when you're ready.
195:09:44 Fullerton: And, for your information, we're getting a very good picture...
195:09:46 Shepard: Are you getting a picture, now?
195:09:48 Fullerton: That's affirmative. Good picture. All three of you in there. The questions that you'll be asked at this news conference have been submitted here at the Manned Spacecraft Center by newsmen who have been covering the flight. Some of the questions they raised have been answered in your communications with Mission Control, but the public-at-large has not necessarily heard them. The questions are being read to you exactly as submitted by the newsmen and in an order specified by them. First of all, for Al and Ed. Cone Crater was your major objective on your second Moonwalk. You almost made the rim. How close do you think you got, and do you believe you collected enough rocks and samples to accomplish the purpose of your mission?
195:10:37 Shepard: I think so. Let me take the first part of it, with respect to how close we got. I think we were within perhaps 100 yards or less of the rim and certainly in a boulder field that was right there associated with the boulders in the rim.
195:10:58 Mitchell: I agree with Al. I agree with Al. I think we were in 100 to 150 yards, and I think the majority of the type rocks that - [garble] find at the rim were in the boulder field that we were working; and although it was a disappointment, just as a matter of challenge, not to get up there, I think we accomplished the scientific objectives that we went for.
195:11:27 Fullerton: It is hard for us to get a feel for what it was like in the large boulder field. Was it a forest of big rocks higher than you? Could you see any distance? Over.
195:11:41 Shepard: Well, the - the rocks that we were in - ranging in different sizes. They ranged up to 10 or 12 feet in height above us; so, at times, we were behind rocks that were taller than we were. As far as the mobility?s concerned, Ed, do you want talk about that?
195:12:00 Mitchell: Yes. We didn't have a great deal of trouble moving around the rocks. We didn't even have trouble moving the MET around the rocks, except we did have to dodge them and, of course, had to be a bit more careful with the MET that - walking without it. Our major problem, however, was the undulating sur -terrain where you imply couldn't see more than 100 to 150 yards away from you and see landmarks. Consequently, you were never quite sure what landmark would appear when you topped the next ridge, and we were very surprised when we topped the ridge - approached the ridge which we thought to be the rim of Cone Crater to find there was another one beyond it, and that was the beginning of the real problem.
195:12:51 Fullerton: The next question is: tell us about your problems of fatigue, orientation, and visibility; and apply them, if you will, to the longer 7-hour Moonwalks planned for Apollo 15.
195:13:09 Shepard: Well, I guess we didn't realize that we had problems of fatigue and visibility. As far as we were concerned, our only problem was the amount of time allotted for the excursion. We - I don't exactly know what our heart rates were. Obviously, they were higher than the normal sitting rate, but we still were not operating at maximum capacity of our backpacks for cooling, nor were we operating for extended periods of time at high heart rate. To us, it was Just a matter of working against the clock. I think that we had the capability to go longer from the standpoint of fatigue. I don't believe that we were disoriented or lost at any -any time at all, either.
195:13:54 Mitchell: Yes, I agree with Al. If my previous answer misled you, it was only a matter of context, because, given a few minutes to look around, we figured out where we were, but trying to do it rapidly made it difficult; and, as Al says, time was our major factor. Given another 30 or 40 minutes, I think we could have reached the top of Cone Crater, covered all of our objectives, and - get back in good fashion.
195:14:25 Shepard: Well, let me add one thing here. I think if we had wanted to reach the top of the crater, and did nothing else, that we could have done that within the time period allotted. But I think that this method in which we reverted to, that of collecting rocks from a point not quite near the top of the crater, provided a lot more geologically, and gave us a better cross section of the rocks in the area, and, therefore, a better chance of getting rocks ejected from Imbrium than had we gone to the crater and back and not collected as many rocks.
195:15:03 Fullerton: The next question is for Stu Roosa. Stu, what did you see of the Lunar Module from orbit?
195:15:13 Roosa: Okay. The first pass that I made on the landmark tracking, I picked the LM up with no problem. It just showed up as a - as a white - a white spot, obviously something foreign to the lunar surface, reflecting light, but the ringer was the long shadow put out. The first day that I tracked it, why, the Sun angle was still pretty low; and you could, see the shadow coming out; and the shadow and the - and the reflection cinched it as the LM. Now, you couldn't see a shape of the LM, as such, but - was no doubt the LM was there. And on the next day, as I was doing landmark tracking, it was not on - in the schedule to track the LM again; however, I had a landmark just prior to the Fra Mauro region and one after it. And I was in forma - the right attitude for landmark tracking; so, I looked for the LM again - found it this time without any trouble. The shadow had diminished to -to almost nothing, or it was very small; but, here again, then, I could see the glint coming off the ALSEP. At this time, the ALSEP had been deployed; so, I could see the glint coming off it. And I checked with Ron Evans later on the - and told him what I thought it was, and he agreed that that was the ALSEP location.
195:16:42 Fullerton: The next question is also for you, Stu. A top priority for you is taking detailed pictures of the Descartes Crater as a possible landing site for a later mission. Since your big camera was broken, do you think you got enough high-resolution photos?
195:17:01 Roosa: Well, I guess - well, I'd say yes. We made three passes and - with the 500-millimeter, using what we call the COAS maneuver, or you - you pitch and keep the camera on the Descartes landing site, and this way you get a real good stereo. And, I guess, we'll have to develop the pictures and see - see how they are. But I'd - I'd say the answer to that's probably yes, but I - I really can't answer it completely at this time.
195:17:36 Fullerton: With your docking problem, and battery problem, abort switch problem, and a problem with the landing radar, how concerned were you about not making a successful landing or a safe return?
195:17:52 Mitchell: This is Ed, I never doubted it for a minute. We were going to make it.
195:17:58 Shepard: Well, I guess we're always concerned about the operation of the equipment. That's what we're up here for is to - to assure that it operates - to the best of our ability, as well as it's designed to function all the time. We're always concerned about that, and we still are. We still have a little bit of this voyage left to go, and we're still concerned about a safe return. I think that anyone that's involved in this kind of a business of research flying has to be concerned until the flight is totally over.
195:18:39 Mitchell: I - I'd like to make one other comment, too, about - the question about the - Stu's pictures of Descartes. The photographic technique which he used is essentially the same as Apollo 12 used, which took the pictures of the area in which it landed. We feel that was successful.
195:19:00 Fullerton: The next question. Other crews had trouble with dust. How did dust affect you on landing, on the surface, and on the way back?
195:19:11 Shepard: Well, let me take the landing part, and I'll give Ed the surface part, and let Stu handle the way-back part. As far as the landing was concerned, there was - there was less dust than I figured; and I think that was generally borne out as we progressed through our EVA; but the dust started forming, I think, approximately 100 feet above the surface, maybe 150. It was a thin layer, as we've seen before but less dense than what I expected. And it did not interfere with my vision or capability to land at all. Now, do you want to talk about how it was on the surface?
195:19:47 Mitchell: I think it was substantially as previous crews have reported it, as far as working on the surface is concerned. It's a nuisance. The material is soft. It clings very readily to equipment, to your suits, and it's - it's a nuisance. But surprisingly, we didn't find that we had too much of it on the LM with us in the evening - rather the first night, nor did we feel we carried too much of it back in with us after the second EVA, except for the fact that it was - had impreg - impregnated the top of the suits and was on most other pieces of cloth. However, it came off of the metal very readily, and that didn't cause any problem. I think it was more of a nuisance than anything else.
195:20:40 Roosa: Okay. As far as - after the docking and on the way back, the dust problem's really been nonexistent. They - Of course, Al and Ed took their suits off in the - in the LM; and then, we have a vacuum cleaner in the Command Module and which I passed over; and they vacuumed the suits. And I passed over several bags in which they put all of the equipment that they brought from the lunar surface into these bags. They have zippers on them and so forth that are to keep the fine dust in. So, I took each one of their suits and put it in a special suit bag that we have in here and another bag that they came back across; and by holding a little positive pressure in the Command Module, we - we've had very - very little dust, and absolutely no -no problem at all.
195:21:33 Fullerton: Now we'd like to...
195:21:34 Shepard: I think you might - I might just add that we certainly have benefited - from the - from the lessons of earlier flights in this respect. I think the problem, particularly on Apollo 12, showed us how to handle the dust problem, and I think that we have most of the answers now solved.
195:21:53 Fullerton: Now, we'd like you tell us about the rocks you're bringing back. How big are they? What is their texture, color, and did they crumble? And compare them with the rocks on Apollos 11 and 12.
195:22:15 Shepard: Well, I tell you, we've been so busy, we really haven't looked at the rocks. Stu's going to see if he can't find one for us now. But while he's digging, to comment on that particular question; of course, we don't have the equipment here to analyze these rocks from the standpoint of mineral content and how they compare with the various mineral percentages with those that have been brought back, but with respect to size - We didn't have a dust problem until just now (laughter). With respect to size, I think the largest we brought back is about a foot in its diameter, and the large rocks we've brought back were not crumbly. Some of the rock specimens, the smaller hand samples which we collected, were, in fact, crumbly; but the large rocks we brought back, I think we have four or five relatively large rocks. And these are - are not of the crumbling type. I think we just - because of the dusty (laughter) problem which now has been created. I think we'll have to hold on showing you a rock until we get back.
195:23:30 Fullerton: Okay.
195:23:31 Roosa: I don't - I don't want to get a rock out.
195:23:38 Fullerton: The next question is for Al Shepard. Was the terrain in the landing area different from what you expected? And describe your reaction to landing on a slope.
195:23:48 Shepard: No. With respect to the general terrain, it was exactly as we had expected. As a matter of fact, as soon as the vehicle pitched over in the final stages of the landing approach, I was immediately able to recognize where we were and could control the spacecraft accordingly. We were essentially right on target, and we landed essentially right on target. I had originally planned to land a little bit to the south of the designated spot, perhaps within a couple hundred yards, because I thought it was smoother there. It turned out that there really was no smooth place within the general area of the landing site. As far as the slope was concerned, there was something like a 7-degree slope, and it didn't give us any problem at all. The LM landed very softly, gently. No tendency for it to topple over, and it stayed there steady as a rock for the duration of the stay.
195:24:48 Fullerton: This next question is for each of you. As space pilots, what is your dominant professional impression of the flight?
195:25:10 Roosa: Well, I guess any - any comment like that - the answer that I'd give - would be that to me it's gone - it's been very gratifying. I think it's been a challenge, and I think each one of us has certainly had the chance to use his abilities as a - as a research pilot and scientist. And I -I think it's gone real well up to this point. And before we elaborate too much on - on a postmission conference, I'd rather wait until after the entry.
195:25:54 Mitchell: I think Stu's put it very well. The small things we've had to encounter that were unexpected have been handled very well by the entire team. I think everyone on the team functioned very well, certainly from our point of view. And all the major objectives that we went after were accomplished - a certain -at least, well backed up whether we accomplished them per se or not. In my opinion, the mission was, to this point, quite a success. And I expect the reentry to be quite a success.
195:26:33 Shepard: I would only add to those comments that - that we're basically sensible people, that we're involved in a program of developing and promoting technology. Apollo 12 is only one - one step in the space technology. I feel that Apollo 12 -Apollo 14, I should say - has been a - a resounding success; and I don't really think that we've been able to assess, at this stage, what the contributions will be; but I can intuitively tell from what we've done, what we've seen on the surface, that we're bringing back a wealth of information photographically and geologically, that we've left stations and other stations on the Moon sending back information for scientific purposes. And I think that, generally speaking, it was a smashing success.
195:27:28 Fullerton: Again, for each of you. What event in the flight touched you most emotionally?
195:27:40 Shepard: Well, I think the big emotion for me is yet to come, and that's getting both feet on the carrier.
195:27:48 Roosa: Okay. I'd say up to - There - there's been a lot of rather tremendous sights on the mission so far, and entry will be another one; but I guess, the - the first look at the Moon after you - after you burn LOI and in the darkness and you come around, pitch to an attitude where you can see - see the Moon and It's there below you at about 60 miles, but it looks like about 200 feet. And your first impression of the body is a rather tremendous thing.
195:28:30 Mitchell: I think Stu's choice is my number 2, and my number-1 impact is when we pitched over and there was Cone Crater right out the window. It was very impressive.
195:28:45 Fullerton: You have not talked to your wives and families since you left Cape Kennedy. Is there anything that you would like to say to them now? We will make sure they hear about it.
195:28:58 Shepard: Well, thank you. I'm sure you all have done a wonderful job of keeping them posted, particularly with the communications link and everything; and I guess, perhaps, they're probably as well informed of the flight as we are ourselves; but, in case they don?t know, we're all very well, very happy, and say hello; and we'll look forward to seeing them in a few days. Ed?
195:29:22 Mitchell: I have nothing to add to that at all.
195:29:26 Roosa: No, No. We'll be in touch.
195:29:32 Fullerton: The next question is for Al. Would you give us your personal feelings about the differences between the rides on Freedom 7 a decade ago, and Apollo 14?
195:29:49 Shepard: One big step. It's very difficult to - Of course, as the question implies, discuss the technical differences between the - the two flights. And from the standpoint of personal differences, I think that for those days, that the Mercury-Redstone flight was just as much of an individual challenge as has been Apollo 14. I think, of course, the machinery are different, but the -the men with whom we worked, the individuals that helped us along, are pretty much the same; and, therefore, the emotions are pretty much the same. Both were a great thrill for me; there's no question about that.
195:30:41 Fullerton: The final question is also for Al. You became the first lunar golfer with your little six iron. How many golf balls did you hit, how far did they go, and did you make the green?
195:31:17 Mitchell: Let me add, there wasn't any green in sight.
195:31:20 Shepard: There were no green rocks; there where no green rocks.
195:31:26 Fullerton: Thank you very much. We've certainly enjoyed every minute of - of your commentary, and this concludes the list of questions that we have for you. Thank you, again.
195:31:36 Shepard: Thank you, and we'll look forward to seeing you shortly.
195:31:42 Mitchell: That sounds good.
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