After Surveyor 1’s initial studies of the lunar surface in 1966, Surveyor 3 made further inroads into preparations for human missions to the moon. Using a surface sampler to study the lunar soil, Surveyor 3 conducted experiments to see how the lunar surface would fare against the weight of an Apollo lunar module. The moon lander, which was the second of the Surveyor series to make a soft landing on the moon, also gathered information on the lunar soil’s radar reflectivity and thermal properties in addition to transmitting more than 6,000 photographs of its surroundings.
The Apollo 12 Lunar Module, visible in the background at right, landed about 600 feet from Surveyor 3 in the Ocean of Storms. The television camera and several other pieces were taken from Surveyor 3 and brought back to Earth for scientific examination. Here, Conrad examines the Surveyor’s TV camera prior to detaching it. Astronaut Richard F. Gordon Jr. remained with the Apollo 12 Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit while Conrad and Bean descended in the LM to explore the moon.
On this day in 1969: Apollo 12 lands successfully on the Moon
There have been many memorable sound bites from astronauts stepping down onto the lunar surface for the very first time, however few top that of Commander Pete Conrad when he became the 3rd person to walk on the Moon. In a $500 bet made with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci to prove that NASA did not script astronaut comments, Conrad spoke the words included on this post’s accompanying image.
November 14, 1969: Apollo 12 Mission Launches Into Space
On this day in 1969, Apollo 12 launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida as the second mission to land on the moon and the sixth manned flight in the United States’ Apollo program by NASA.
In total, the Apollo program resulted in 12 spaceflights and 12 astronauts who walked on the moon. The program developed as a result of President John F. Kennedy challenging the nation, in 1961, to land on the moon by the end on the decade.
On this day in 1969, NASA launched the second crewed mission to the Moon with the Apollo 12 mission. It was also the sixth manned flight of the Apollo programme. Apollo 12 set off four months after the Apollo 11 mission which first landed men on the Moon. The mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission commander was Charles Conrad, the Lunar Module Pilot was Alan Bean and the Command Module Pilot was Richard Gordon. The crew returned safely to Earth on November 24th.
Speaking of awesome lightning, did you know that Apollo 12’s Saturn V was struck by lightning less than a minute after launch? The bolt threw the navigation computer into chaos and then traveled down the energized exhaust plume.
Read about the white-knuckled minutes, the near-abort and controlled self-destruct that almost happened. Until a young flight controller suggested they flip “SCE to AUX”.