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Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s ‘lost’ golf ball is discovered but it only travelled 40 yards

A golf ball ‘lost’ by Alan Shepard on the Moon that he claimed travelled ‘miles and miles’ has been found in newly restored images — and it only travelled 40 yards. 

On February 6, 1971, the Apollo 14 mission commander hit two golf balls across the lunar surface as one of the final acts of NASA’s third crewed Moon landing.

One of the balls was hit into a crater, but the other was said to have travelled ‘miles and miles’ — at least by Commander Shepard.

However, newly restored images of the Apollo 14 landing site suggest that his golf swing may not have been as successful as he first thought.

In fact, the first ball came to rest 24 yards from Commander Shepard’s ‘teeing off’ point, while the second flew a mere 40 yards.

 

On February 6, 1971, the Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard hit two golf balls across the lunar surface as one of the final acts of NASA’s third crewed Moon landing. Pictured, one of Commander Shepard’s swings. The grainy image was shot from a low-res television camera

A golf ball 'lost' by Alan Shepard on the Moon that he claimed travelled 'miles and miles' has been found in newly restored images — and it only travelled 40 yards from the tee, as pictured

A golf ball ‘lost’ by Alan Shepard on the Moon that he claimed travelled ‘miles and miles’ has been found in newly restored images — and it only travelled 40 yards from the tee, as pictured

Newly restored images of the Apollo 14 landing site suggest that Commander Shepard's golf swing may not have been as successful as he first thought. In fact, the first ball came to rest 24 yards from the 'teeing off' point, while the second (pictured) flew a mere 40 yards

Newly restored images of the Apollo 14 landing site suggest that Commander Shepard’s golf swing may not have been as successful as he first thought. In fact, the first ball came to rest 24 yards from the ‘teeing off’ point, while the second (pictured) flew a mere 40 yards

The only footage of the swing was captured on grainy video, but Andy Saunders, an image specialist, has painstakingly enhanced high-resolution scans of the footage from the lunar mission.

He digitally enhanced scans recently released of the photographic film and used a ‘stacking technique’ including smaller 16mm footage shot by the crew.

This allowed him to find the second ball — not seen in five decades — and work out that, rather than travelling ‘miles and miles’, it had moved a mere 40 yards.

The newly-enhanced images will be among those included in Andy Saunders’ upcoming book, ‘Apollo Remastered’. 

In some accounts, Commander Shepard allegedly ‘smuggled’ the key part of his makeshift golf club up to the Moon — hiding the head of a specially-adapted six iron inside one of his socks to get it aboard the rocket. 

He went on to attach this head to the so-called ‘contingency sample tool’, a collapsible implement which the mission astronauts used to scoop up samples of lunar rock for analysis.

Given the inflexible nature of the spacesuit he was wearing, Commander Shepard was only able to take a series of one-handed swings with the club/tool — perhaps explaining why the balls did not go far, even in the low gravity.

Commander Shepard 'smuggled' the key part of his makeshift golf club up to the Moon — hiding the head of a six iron inside a socks to get it aboard the rocket. He went on to attach this head to the so-called 'contingency sample tool', a collapsible implement which the mission astronauts used to scoop up samples of lunar rock for analysis. Pictured: the replica of the 'moon golf club' the was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC

Commander Shepard ‘smuggled’ the key part of his makeshift golf club up to the Moon — hiding the head of a six iron inside a socks to get it aboard the rocket. He went on to attach this head to the so-called ‘contingency sample tool’, a collapsible implement which the mission astronauts used to scoop up samples of lunar rock for analysis. Pictured: the replica of the ‘moon golf club’ the was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC

Given the inflexible nature of the spacesuit he was wearing, Commander Shepard was only able to take a series of one-handed swings with the club/tool — perhaps explaining why the balls did not go far, even in the low gravity. Pictured, the footprints seen in the lunar dust from where Commander Shepard stood to take his swings, along with the first shot's divot

Given the inflexible nature of the spacesuit he was wearing, Commander Shepard was only able to take a series of one-handed swings with the club/tool — perhaps explaining why the balls did not go far, even in the low gravity. Pictured, the footprints seen in the lunar dust from where Commander Shepard stood to take his swings, along with the first shot’s divot

‘I would challenge any club golfer to go to their local course and try to hit a six-iron, one-handed, with a one-quarter swing out of an unraked bunker,’ Mr Saunders told the BBC.

‘Then imagine being fully suited, helmeted and wearing thick gloves. Remember also that there was little gravity to pull the clubhead down toward the ball.’

‘The fact that Shepard even made contact and got the ball airborne is extremely impressive,’ he concluded.

Following Commander Shepard's round of 'golf', Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell threw a lunar scoop handle in the manner of a javelin — and it settled in the same crater as Commander Shepard's first golf ball. Pictured: the golf ball and the 'javelin' seen in a lunar crater

Following Commander Shepard’s round of ‘golf’, Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell threw a lunar scoop handle in the manner of a javelin — and it settled in the same crater as Commander Shepard’s first golf ball. Pictured: the golf ball and the ‘javelin’ seen in a lunar crater

The newly-enhanced images will be among those included in Andy Saunders' upcoming book, 'Apollo Remastered'. Pictured, remastered footage from the Lunar Module showing the location of the two golf balls and the makeshift javelin, fashioned from a lunar scoop handle

The newly-enhanced images will be among those included in Andy Saunders’ upcoming book, ‘Apollo Remastered’. Pictured, remastered footage from the Lunar Module showing the location of the two golf balls and the makeshift javelin, fashioned from a lunar scoop handle

Following the ‘game’ of golf, Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell threw a lunar scoop handle in the manner of a javelin — and it settled in the same crater as Commander Shepard’s first golf ball. 

On returning to the Earth, Commander Shepard donated the ‘moon golf club’  to the museum of the United States Golf Association, who collaborated with Mr Saunders on the image reconstructions.

A replica of the club was also made up and donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

The sport-themed hijinks, however, reportedly did not amuse some of the Earth-based scientists working on the data and material recovered by the Apollo 14 crew. Pictured: A Saturn V rocket launches the Apollo 14 mission to the moon on January 31, 1971

The sport-themed hijinks, however, reportedly did not amuse some of the Earth-based scientists working on the data and material recovered by the Apollo 14 crew. Pictured: Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard as seen in 1971

The sport-themed hijinks, however, reportedly did not amuse some of the Earth-based scientists working on the data and material recovered by the Apollo 14 crew. Pictured: Left, a Saturn V rocket launches the Apollo 14 mission to the moon on January 31, 1971 and, right, Commander Alan Shepard as photographed on Earth in the same year

'The golf game did not set well with most geologists in light of the results at Cone crater,' said Don Wilhelms of the US Geological Survey — making reference to the astronauts' failure to reach and take samples from the crater's rim. Pictured: Commander Shephard on the moon

‘The golf game did not set well with most geologists in light of the results at Cone crater,’ said Don Wilhelms of the US Geological Survey — making reference to the astronauts’ failure to reach and take samples from the crater’s rim. Pictured: Commander Shephard on the moon

The sport-themed hijinks, however, reportedly did not amuse some of the Earth-based scientists working on the data and material recovered by the Apollo 14 crew.

‘The golf game did not set well with most geologists in light of the results at Cone crater,’ said Don Wilhelms of the US Geological Survey — making reference to the astronauts’ failure to reach and take samples from the crater’s rim. 

Aside from the 9kg rock sample dubbed Big Bertha, the geologist added, ‘we have less than 1 kg of rock — 962 g to be exact — from what in my opinion is the most important single point reached by astronauts on the Moon.’

On returning to the Earth, Commander Shepard donated the 'moon golf club' to the museum of the United States Golf Association, who collaborated with Mr Saunders on the image reconstructions. A replica of the club was also made up and donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Pictured, the Apollo 14 lander on the lunar surface

On returning to the Earth, Commander Shepard donated the ‘moon golf club’ to the museum of the United States Golf Association, who collaborated with Mr Saunders on the image reconstructions. A replica of the club was also made up and donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Pictured, the Apollo 14 lander on the lunar surface

The Apollo 14 mission made their landing in the Fra Mauro formation — so named after the 15th-century Italian monk and mapmaker — on the near side of the Moon

The Apollo 14 mission made their landing in the Fra Mauro formation — so named after the 15th-century Italian monk and mapmaker — on the near side of the Moon

WHAT WAS THE APOLLO PROGRAM?

NASA photo taken on July 16, 1969 shows the huge, 363-foot tall Apollo 11 Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module S/Saturn 506) space vehicle launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT).

NASA photo taken on July 16, 1969 shows the huge, 363-foot tall Apollo 11 Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module S/Saturn 506) space vehicle launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT).

Apollo was the NASA programme that launched in 1961 and got the first man on the moon eight years later.

The first four flights tested the equipment for the Apollo Program and six of the other seven flights managed to land on the moon.

The first manned mission to the moon was Apollo 8 which circled around it on Christmas Eve in 1968 but did not land.

The crew of Apollo 9 spent ten days orbiting Earth and completed the first manned flight of the lunar module – the section of the Apollo rocket that would later land Neil Armstrong on the Moon.  

The Apollo 11 mission was the first one to land on the moon on 20 July 1969.

The capsule landed on the Sea of Tranquillity, carrying mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin.

Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface while Michael Collins remained in orbit around the moon. 

When Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, he said, ‘That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.’

Apollo 12 landed later that year on 19 November on the Ocean of Storms, writes NASA.  

Apollo 13 was to be the third mission to land on the moon, but just under 56 hours into flight, an oxygen tank explosion forced the crew to cancel the lunar landing and move into the Aquarius lunar module to return back to Earth.  

Apollo 15 was the ninth manned lunar mission in the Apollo space program, and considered at the time the most successful manned space flight up to that moment because of its long duration and greater emphasis on scientific exploration than had been possible on previous missions. 

The last Apollo moon landing happened in 1972 after a total of 12 astronauts had touched down on the lunar surface.

Astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin unpacking experiments from the Lunar Module on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Photographed by Neil Armstrong, 20 July 1969

Astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin unpacking experiments from the Lunar Module on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Photographed by Neil Armstrong, 20 July 1969

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