Saturday, February 7, 2015

Today in American History: Alan Shepard Plays Golf on the Moon 02/06/1971

Today in American History, United States Astronaut Captain Alan B. Shepard played golf on the moon.  The historic round of golf was played during the Apollo 14 mission that lasted from January 31, 1971 through February 9, 1971 and stands as the first time any sport was played in space.  Captain Shepard was 47 at the time of the landing, the oldest astronaut in history.  Captain Shepard was promoted in Admiral in August of 1971.

Shepard's Historic Moon Shot

The Apollo 14 mission was the third moon landing.  Captain Shepard piloted the Antares lunar lander to the most accurate landing on the moon's surface ever.  During this mission, not only was the golf shot a historic first but it was also the first time that a full color broadcast from space was accomplished using vidicon tube camera.  It is worth noting that on Apollo 12 there were a few brief moments of color broadcast, however when the crew inadvertently pointed the camera at the sun it was no long operable.  Shepard's "shot heard from out of this world" was taken with a Wilson brand six iron, which was taken with one hand because of the bulky space suit.  Shepard swung at two golf balls, hitting the second one that went for "miles and miles" according to Shepard.

Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard flew only two space missions during his military career.  His thirty year military career (1944-1974) saw him not only be the first American in space, but as noted above, the first man to play golf on the moon.  The two seem terribly appropriate.  Born on November 18th, 1923, Shepard's military roots began early on while a teenager where he attended and graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy in Pine Beach, NJ in 1940 just before America's entry into World War II.  He earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and graduated in 1944 earning a commission as an Ensign in the Navy, serving on the naval destroyer USS Cogswell in the Pacific theater in World War II.  In 1947, Shepard earned his Naval Aviator wings and was stationed on the Flighter Squadron 42 (VF-42) in NAS Norfolk in Virginia and NAS Jacksonville in Florida.  He served several tours of duty in the Mediterranean throughout his career.

Admiral Farragut Academy Paying Homage to Shepard After His Passing

With the ramping up of the American space program, Shepard was selected among 110 military pilots as candidates for the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  After a grueling series of tests, Shepard was selected as one of seven Mercury astronauts.  And on May 5th, 1961, less than a month after Yuri Gagarin's historical orbit of Earth, Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space piloting the Freedom 7 on to 116 statute miles above the Earth.  Before the flight, Shepard was heard to say, "Don't fuck up, Shepard."  Shepard was known for his candor, when asked after the flight by the press what he was thinking just before launch, he replied, "that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder."  

Shepard was awarded the Command Pilot position of the Gemini Project mission in 1964.  However, his subsequent diagnosis of Menieres disease, a condition in which fluid builds up in the inner ear, saw him moved off of flight status to Chief of the Astronaut office.  Shepard was restored to full flight status in 1969 following a newly developed corrective surgery for his condition, setting him up for the historic 1971 golf shot.

Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard passed away on July 21, 1998 from leukemia, but not before authoring two books about his life.  One was the critically acclaimed Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon with fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton.

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

No comments:

Post a Comment