Wednesday, June 3, 2009


When Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell set off for Cone Crater on an epic EVA during Apollo 14, nobody could have known what an arduous trek lay ahead. This was the last pre-lunar rover flight, and the two were pulling their tools along behind them in a rickshaw-like device called the MET, which tended to be unstable and exhausting to drag along. Using orbitally-imaged maps (remember the landing of Apollo 11?), they set out to find Cone crater, the hoped-for high point of this traverse. After many false stops and starts, Shepard finally called it quits, to which Mitchell declared, "[I] think you're finks!" By the time it was all over, geologists on the ground estimated that the duo had come within about 75 feet of the crater's South rim. It was another hard-won lesson regarding the unanticipated difficulties of lunar surface exploration during the Golden Age of space travel. If you zoom in on this traverse map, you can see how excruciatingly close they came to the view of a lifetime.

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Welcome to the Missions to the Moon book blog. This is a place to re-live the heady days of the Apollo and Soyuz lunar programs- perhaps the crowning achievements of the 20th Century. Many blog entries will include a new downloadable image or artifact from the space age- items rarely seen and not available in print. It's all in the spirit of my newest book, Missions to the Moon- to remember the great adventure of the Golden Age of space exploration, and ponder what wonders await us in space.

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