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Alan Shepard at Apollo 14

Alan Shepard at Apollo 14 (Space)

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Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. (November 18, 1923 (97 years ago) – Jul. 21, 1998 (22 years ago)) (Rear Admiral, United States Navy, Ret.) was the second person and the first American in space. He later commanded the Apollo 14 mission, and was the fifth person to walk on the moon.

Astronaut career: Apollo 14

At age 47, and the oldest astronaut in the program, Shepard made his second space flight as commander of Apollo 14, Jan. 31–February 9, 1971 (49 years ago), America's third successful lunar landing mission. Shepard piloted his Lunar Module Antares to the most accurate landing of the entire Apollo program. This was the first mission to successfully broadcast color TV pictures (wallpaper) from the surface of the Moon, using the vidicon tube. (The color camera on Apollo 12 provided a few brief moments of color telecasting before it was inadvertently pointed at the sun, effectively ending its usefulness.) While on the Moon, Shepard played golf with a Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle. Despite thick gloves and a stiff spacesuit which forced him to swing the club with one hand only, Shepard struck two golf balls with a six iron, driving the second, as he jokingly put it, "miles and miles and miles."

Following Apollo 14, Shepard returned to his position as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June, 1971 (49 years ago). He was promoted to Rear Admiral before finally retiring both from the Navy and NASA on Aug. 1, 1974 (46 years ago).

Later years

Always a shrewd businessman, Shepard was the first astronaut to become a millionaire while still in the program. After he left the program, he served on the boards of many corporations under the auspices of his Seven-Fourteen Enterprises (named for his two flights, Freedom 7 and Apollo 14).

In 1994 (26 years ago), he published a book with two journalists, Jay Barbree and Howard Benedict, called Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon. Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton is also named as an author, but he died before the project was completed and was an author in name only. The book generated some controversy for use of a deliberately faked photo (wallpaper) showing Shepard hitting a golf ball on the moon (the only other usable photo (wallpaper) was a grainy TV videotape), a photo (wallpaper) which Barbree re-used in a 2007 (13 years ago) memoir. The book was also turned into a TV miniseries in 1994 (26 years ago).

Shepard died of leukemia near his home in Pebble Beach, California on Jul. 21, 1998 (22 years ago), two years after being diagnosed with that disease. His wife of 53 years, Louise Brewer, died five weeks afterward. Both were cremated, and their ashes were committed to the sea.

They had three daughters, Laura (born in 1947 (73 years ago)), Juliana (born in 1951 (69 years ago)) and Alice (born in 1951 (69 years ago)). Alice was Louise's niece, but raised as their own daughter. He also had six grandchildren. Laura had a daughter, Lark and son, Bart. Juliana had a daughter, Ethney and son, Shepard. Alice had a son, Reid, and a daughter, Heather. He was also one of many famous descendants of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren.

Legacy

Each year, the Space Foundation, in partnership with the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF) and NASA, present the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award for outstanding contributions made by K-12 educators or district-level administrators to educational technology. The award recognizes excellence in the development and application of technology in the classroom or to the professional development of teachers. The recipient demonstrates exemplary use of technology either to foster lifelong learners or to make the learning process easier. Recipients include:
2009 (11 years ago) Ricardo V. Soria
2008 (12 years ago) Kevin L. Simmons
2007 (13 years ago) Luther W. Richardson
2006 (14 years ago) Kathy R. Brandon
2005 (15 years ago) Ronald F. Dantowitz
2004 (16 years ago) Charles Geach
2003 (17 years ago) Brian Copes
2002 (18 years ago) Thomas F. Hunt, Frank E. Waller
2001 (19 years ago) Lori Byrnes

Media

1965 (55 years ago) - the character of Alan Tracy in the Thunderbirds was named after him.
1983 (37 years ago) movie The Right Stuff - played by Scott Glenn
1998 (22 years ago) HBO TV series From The Earth To The Moon - played by Ted Levine
2001 (19 years ago) Opening montage, Star Trek: Enterprise
2002 (18 years ago) movie Race to Space, played by Mark Moses
2005 (15 years ago) BBC TV series Space Race - played by Todd Boyce
2007 (13 years ago) - the player character in Bioware's Mass Effect is named in honor of him.


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