Commander Alan Shepard stepped out of the flimsy landing craft Antares and onto the surface of the moon this afternoon, exactly according to plan.
Commander Alan Shepard stepped out of the flimsy landing craft Antares and onto the surface of the moon this afternoon, exactly according to plan. Six minutes later, fellow astronaut Edgar Mitchell followed him out of the craft.
The rugged foothills of the Fra Mauro region, where Antares landed, made this the most complicated landing on the moon ever undertaken, and Commander Shepard brought the craft down perfectly. But not without drama. Shepard held the craft hovering above the lunar surface for one minute and fifteen seconds longer than the scheduled landing time, while his co-pilot picked out the best landing spot. By the time Antares had landed, the fuel supply needle was flickering dangerously near empty.
Exactly nine years and nine months since the day he was the first American in space," middle-aged millionaire" Alan Shepard became the fifth man on the moon. His first confident steps down the leader were seen all over the earth on television.
His first tanks on the lunar surface was to detach from the bottom half of the lunar lander the $20,000 (8,000 Sterling) wheelbarrow which will be used by the spacemen to transport experimental packages.
After freeing the wheelbarrow, Shepard set up a TV camera on a tripod, also used to cover the astronauts movements.
Meanwhile, Mitchell collected a lunar rock sample about 25 feet (8 meters) from the lunar module. This is the contingency sample, collected quickly in case some emergency should force the crew to re enter their vehicle at short notice.
The heartbeat of both spacemen soared as they stepped onto the moon. Shepard's heart rate rose to 12 and Mitchell's to 124. But as they set about their predetermined tasks, their hearts settled down to a normal rate between 70 and 85 a minute.