Apollo 14 Field Trip - News Article 1
Published 11 August 1970 in the Augsburger Allgemeine. Used with permission.
Scan and German-to-English translation by Klaus Zeitner.
Click on the image for a larger version.
These are moon-flyers ...
Astonishment in Stuttgart: The folks of Apollo 14 are looking like vacationists from Texas - Off to the Ries today
from our chief-reporter Karl Pflugmacher
Nördlingen. (Note 1 below) "I would have preferred to come to Old Germany as a tourist. But this visit is for work. And the field training here will surely be interesting. Here we will learn what kind of rocks we'll have to bring back from the moon." With these words Apollo commander Alan B. Shepard gave his thanks for the great and nice reception at the Stuttgart airport. This Tuesday already, commander Shepard, together with his astronaut colleagues Edgar D. Mitchell, Eugene A. Cernan and Joe H. Engle will begin their geological field training. The scientific introduction to this task for the four astronauts will be given by professor Wolf von Engelhardt and his small research team of the University of Tčbingen's mineralogical-petrographical institute.
In the next few days some people might react like this curious elder lady, who took one simply-clothed (Note 2 below) businessman for an astronaut. As four men, clothed in bright-colored jackets and checked trousers doing their customs formalities, were shown to her, she disappointedly mentioned: "These are moon-flyers? They look like vacationists from Texas!"
They indeed are coming from Texas, but from the training center at Houston. However, they do not intend to spend happy holidays in Ries ."These boys really have to work hard to accomplish their tasks in a few days", one NASA speaker says.
Flowers and a kiss from a three-year-old girl during the reception
of the Apollo-14-astronauts at their arrival in Stuttgart.
Even Eugene A. Cernan, a member of the backup crew, was astonished.
No reception in Nördlingen
So, following a wish of the Americans, there will be no official reception for the astronauts. Not even the children's music band of Nördlingen may play and of course there will be no "familiar evening", during which anyone could watch the moonwalkers closely and test their condition dancing boogie-woogie or a Schuhplattler (Note 3 below). The public should be kept away "as far as possible" from the US-cosmonauts. That's quite a pity. On one hand, you don't see a moon-flyer every day. On the other, at least two of the astronauts are clever guys with a highly interesting "lunar past".
46-year-old spacecraft commander Alan B. Shepard was the first American in space. On board a Mercury capsule he reached an altitude of 184 kilometers on May 5, 1961. Still more space-experience has 36-year-old Eugene A. Cernan. Four years ago he traveled almost 60,000 kilometers around the world outside the Gemini IX capsule. During the dress-rehearsal of the lunar landing last year he was - together with Thomas Stafford - on board the Apollo X lunar module, which took them to about 15 kilometers above the lunar surface. Cernan, however, belongs only to the backup crew of Apollo XIV, just like Joe H. Engle who has no space experience so far. Space rookie Edgar D. Mitchell will be the lunar module pilot of the third lunar landing.
Working area kept secret
It is still kept as a secret, exactly where in the Ries crater they will be searching for rocks. The accompanying scientists headed by the well-known German geologist Wolf von Engelhardt won't say, as they fear literally thousands of curious people trying to see the astronauts at close range.
The Ries as a Moon-crater simulator
A planned survey of the Ries by airplane will certainly be cancelled so that the "field work in the crater area" can start on Tuesday. The opinion of a NASA-speaker who recently called the Ries the "best-known lunar terrain on this planet" is corrected by professor Wolf v. Engelhardt who says that "the Ries, of course, is no lunar landscape". Of what is scientifically known today, is that the Ries was created by the impact of a giant meteorite - 1000 meters in diameter - about 15 million years ago. So, in the Ries you can find rocks which are very similar to those on the moon, as the craters on the moon are mostly created by meteor impacts.
Therefore, for some days, the Ries will be a moon-crater simulator. At the end of their field-training, the four astronauts' knowledge of different rocks will be tested. On Thursday afternoon the astronauts and scientists will hold a press conference in the Holheim quarry near Nördlingen. It is thus far not known if the astronauts will live in Nördlingen or will return to Tübingen each evening. A local hotel in Nördlingen just said: "Rooms are booked, but we do not know for whom."
(1) Nördlingen is the major town in the Ries crater, hence the name "Nördlinger Ries" (Ries of Nördlingen).
(2) "Online-translation" help offers the word "simple" for the German word "bieder". I personally would prefer the English word "normal". The meaning is, the businessman was just wearing his "normal" clothes, nothing special - well, just coat and tie.
(3) A "Schuhplattler" (SHOO plutt lar) is a Bavarian folk dance, performed wearing traditional clothing. Men wear short pants made of leather - very famous for this region.