NASA’s Apollo 14 crew made it to the Moon 50 years ago today. That was the first time a sport was performed further from our world’s surface
NASA’s Apollo 14 crew made it to the Moon 50 years ago today. That was the first time a sport was performed further from our world’s surface, although the project was the eighth time humans made it to the Moon.
Alan Shepard made headlines for doing more than just merely wandering across the Moon. He became the first person to play a game of golf on the Moon.
Before shocking American audiences and everyone but a few at NASA who did not realize what Shepard had up his sleeve or, in this situation, up to his socks, Shepard waited until the end of the mission. That’s how he got the space golf gear.
Apollo 14 mission took back 90 pounds of Moon Rock, but Mr. Shepard abandoned the lunar satellite with his clubs.
Though, the golf clubs were a disappointment to NASA, which did not realize that the astronaut had smuggled his kit up to the Moon.
It took the astronauts three tries to effectively strike the ball, finding it impossible to navigate completely in a 180-pound spacesuit.
NASA was unaware of the golf clubs, even though, according to a 1988 interview, Mr. Shepard ran the concept past mission control, which told him “absolutely no way.”
As one of NASA’s seven initial Mercury explorers, The Oakland Press said Shepard became the first American in orbit in 1961. He became the fifth astronaut to step on the Moon as the commander of Apollo 14 after being sidelined for years by an inner ear problem.
Nonetheless, the clubs were taken over by Mr. Shepard, who died in 1998, but he clearly would not use them until the mission was a resounding success.
Where is Shepard’s ‘Missing’ Golf Ball now?
Now, though all golfers are vulnerable to hyperbole, on February 6, 1971, Shepard, who was commander of Nasa’s Apollo 14 mission, may well have hit his ball that hard.
That is, although he had only used a provisional six-iron that he had created out of a collapsible instrument intended to scoop lunar rock samples and that he had sneaked in a sock on board.
How far the ball has gone is indeed up for discussion, but it has traveled “miles and miles,” according to Mr. Shepard.
Newly restored photos of the landing site of Apollo 14, however, show that his golf swing might not have been as effective as he first believed.
The video was examined by British imaging expert Andy Saunders, who is writing on a book named ‘Apollo Remastered.’
The ball came to rest 24 yards from the ‘tee-off’ point of Commander Shepard, while the second soared just 40 yards.
“He recently published digitally improved scans of the photographic film and used a ‘stacking process’ including smaller 16mm footage taken by the team,” Saunders told the BBC.
“Remember also that there was little gravity to pull the clubhead down toward the ball,” he explained.
The fact that Shepard even made contact and got the ball airborne is extremely impressive.
After the revelation, Saunders said that the fact that Shephard was able to strike the ball while on the Moon was indeed a fantastic accomplishment.
Originally published at The Science Times