The crew experienced challenges in docking with the lunar module Antares and six attempts were required before a “hard dock” was achieved.
On February 5, 1971, Antares made the most precise landing to date in the hilly uplands of the Fra Mauro crater.
Shepard and Mitchell spent a total of 33.5 hours on the Moon and performed two extra-vehicular activities (EVAs, or “moonwalks”), totaling 9 hours and 23 minutes. During the first EVA, they deployed several science experiments. Among these was a reflector that continues to be used to measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon. They also deployed a seismometer, which detected thousands of moonquakes and helped to determine the structure of the Moon’s interior. Other instruments measured the composition of the solar wind and the Moon’s tenuous atmosphere and plasma environment. Shepard and Mitchell collected 95 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples.
The command module Kitty Hawk splashed down safely on February 9, 1971, exactly nine days and two minutes after launch. The mission duration from liftoff to splashdown was 216 hours, two minutes.
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Producer/Writer/Editor: Amy Leniart