From Idaho to the Moon

Before walking on the moon, three astronauts came to Idaho for training

Astronaut Eugene Cernan said that Craters of the Moon would look just like the moon if it werent for the vegetation.

ILA Staff

Astronaut Eugene Cernan said that Craters of the Moon would look just like the moon if it weren’t for the vegetation.

Julia Chatraw, Features Writer

Two months after the success of the Apollo 11 mission, where Neil Armstrong made his famous walk on the moon, four astronauts destined for the Apollo 14 mission came to Carney Idaho for training.

On August 22, 1669, the Apollo 14 crew went to Craters of the Moon to train for the future mission—Alan Shepard, the first American in space, Joe Engal, the space shuttle pioneer, Eugene Cernan, who turned out to be the last man on the moon, and Edgar Allen one of the twelve men who have ever walked the lunar surface.

Craters of the moon is a National Monument and Preserve consisting of volcanic rocks, caves, and mountains of black rocks formed from volcanic eruptions at nearby Yellowstone National Park. The lava carried itself down a canyon crack underground  known as the great rift, running from central Colorado to Mexico and spilling into the now craters of the moon.

The terrain there made it an ideal training site for astronauts in determining what types of rocks to look for on the moon.

When the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon, astronauts spent two and a half hours collecting rocks. They amassed a total of 50 pounds of rocks and other sample’s to bring back to Earth for scientists to study.

Apollo 14’s mission was the same, but they wanted to stay longer and collect more specific specimens. Since only a limited amount of rocks could be taken back to earth, the crew had to learn what specimens were best to bring home for scientists.

Idaho went crazy over the fact that future astronauts were in their beloved park. People went to the park and met the astronauts during their visit. Since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon only two months prior, Americans were still buzzing about the astronauts and what they had accomplished.

After spending some time in Idaho for training, the crew moved on to train elsewhere. Even though their visit lasted but few short hours, Idaho will always have a special place in their hearts.

“It’s still one of the best places on the planet to learn about volcanic geology,” said Ted Stout, Chief of Interpretation and Education, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. “It has this peculiar, eerie beauty, like these flows do here that are magnificent. they excite your imagination,”

On February 5th when the Apollo 14 mission blasted off, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell walked on the moon during the mission spending a total of 9 hours and 21 minutes on the moon. The whole round trip took nine days and two minutes.

Apollo 14 was and still is one of NASA’s most successful missions, as the Astronauts brought back 95 pounds of rocks and other samples from the lunar surface.

All the astronauts agreed that Craters of the Moon is very similar to the actual moon. “If I could take all the vegetation out of the Craters of the Moon, I think there would be a very similar feeling. The vastness of it, just the simple vastness, emptiness of it all,” Eugene Cernan said in 1999.

So next time you visit Craters of the Moon, you can remember that 3 of the 12 American men who walked the lunar surface once trained there.