Command module Kitty Hawk and lunar module Antares had braked into lunar orbit 82 hours after liftoff. Two hours later Kitty Hawk's main engine lowered both spacecraft to the altitude from which Antares would begin its descent. This maneuver was one result of the refinement of mission techniques that planners had been working on since Apollo 12, designed to conserve fuel in the lunar module and give the crew more time to hover before landing if they needed to look for a suitable site.
After mission commander Alan Shepard and lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell had checked out Antares , command module pilot Stuart Roosa pulled Kitty Haw k away and Antares began its descent to the surface. Last-minute course corrections sent up from Houston were entered in the guidance computer and Shepard piloted the spacecraft to a routine landing about 350 miles (563 kilometers) west-southwest of the center of the moon's visible side. Antares was only 175 feet (53 meters) from its targeted landing site. Meanwhile Roosa had boosted Kitty Hawk back up into a higher, circular orbit, where he had a number of tasks to perform while his colleagues explored the Fra Mauro Formation.
The terrain on which Antares sat was gently undulating, with numerous craters but comparatively few boulders. Mitchell commented that there was "more relief [i.e., variations in elevation] than we anticipated from looking at the maps," a characteristic that would cause them some difficulty later on.