- Apollo 12
Infobox Space mission
mission_name = "Apollo 12"
insignia = AP12goodship.png
command_module = CM-108 nowrap|callsign "Yankee Clipper" mass 28,838 kg
service_module = SM-108
lunar_module = LM-6 callsign "Intrepid" mass 15,235 kg
crew_size = 3
launch_pad = LC 39A nowrap|
Kennedy Space Center Florida, USA
launch_date = November 14, 1969 16:22:00 UTC
lunar_landing = November 19, 1969spaces|306:54:35 UTC Oceanus Procellarum/Mare Cognitium (Ocean of Storms/Known Sea) 3° 0' 44.60" Sspaces|323° 25' 17.65" W
lunar_eva_duration = nowrap|Firstpad|1.9em3 h 56 m 03 s Secondspaces|33 h 49 m 15 s Totalpad|1.7em7 h 45 m 18 s
lunar_surface_time = 31 h 31 m 11.6 s
lunar_sample_mass = 34.35 kg (75.729 lb)
lunar_orbits = 45
time_lunar_orbits = 88 h 58 m 11.52 s
landing = November 24, 1969 20:58:24 UTC coord|15|47|S|165|9|W|
mission_duration = 10 d 4 h 36 m 24 s
perigee=185 km |apogee=189.8 km
perilune=115.9 km |apolune=257.1 km
inclination=32.54° |period=88.16 m
crew_photo = Apollo 12 crew.jpg
crew_caption = Left to right: Conrad, Gordon, Bean
Apollo 12 was the sixth manned mission in the
Apollo programand the second to land on the Moon.
Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual prior to and including this mission.
*Gerald P. Carr
*Edward G. Gibson
Paul J. Weitz
Gerry Griffin, Gold team
*Pete Frank, Orange team
*Cliff Charlesworth, Green team
*Milton Windler, Maroon team
*Landing Site: W [ [http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunar_sites.html Lunar sites] ] 3.01239 S - 23.42157 W] or
3° 0' 44.60" S - 23° 25' 17.65" W
LM — CSM docking
*Undocked: November 19, 1969 – 04:16:02 UTC
*Redocked: November 20, 1969 – 17:58:20 UTC
EVA 1 start: November 19, 1969, 11:32:35 UTC
* "Conrad" — EVA 1
*Stepped onto Moon: 11:44:22 UTC
*LM ingress: 15:27:17 UTC
* "Bean" — EVA 1
*Stepped onto Moon: 12:13:50 UTC
*LM ingress: 15:14:18 UTC
EVA 1 end: November 19, 15:28:38 UTC
*Duration: 3 hours, 56 minutes, 03 seconds
EVA 2 start: November 20, 1969, 03:54:45 UTC
* "Conrad" — EVA 2
*Stepped onto Moon: 03:59:00 UTC
*LM ingress: 07:42:00 UTC
* "Bean" — EVA 2
*Stepped onto Moon: 04:06:00 UTC
*LM ingress: 07:30:00 UTC
EVA 2 end: November 20, 07:44:00 UTC
*Duration: 3 hours, 49 minutes, 15 seconds
"Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me." — Pete Conrad (somewhat shorter in stature than Armstrong) as he stepped onto the lunar surface for the first time. Conrad had actually come up with the quote some time before the mission, to prove to reporter
Oriana Fallacithat Neil Armstrong had not been told by NASA what to say as he stepped onto the Moon. He had bet Fallaci $500 that he would say the quote, but later claimed he was never able to collect the money.
Apollo 12 launched on schedule, during a rainstorm. 36.5 seconds after lift-off from Kennedy Space Center, the Saturn V rocket body was hit by a bolt of
lightning. The CM's instruments momentarily went off-line and Mission Control lost the telemetry feeds from the spacecraft for several seconds. When ground control regained telemetry lock with the spacecraft, the feeds were garbled and reported incomplete and possibly inaccurate information. EECOM John Aaronthought that the garbled telemetry might be caused by a malfunction in the launch vehicle's Signal Conditioning Equipment (SCE), since the SCE converted raw instrument data into forms usable by spacecraft instrument displays and ground telemetry equipment, and it would have automatically gone off-line in response to the kind of disruption to the spacecraft's electrical systems that a lightning strike would cause. [ [http://history.nasa.gov/SP-287/ch5.htm source NASA History] ]
With this in mind, Aaron suggested the crew "Try SCE to aux" – thereby forcing the backup SCE on-line. The command was a relatively obscure one and neither the
Flight Director, nor CAPCOM, nor Mission Commander Conrad could immediately recall how to implement it; however, lunar module pilot Alan Bean remembered that the SCE switch was on his panel because of a training incident a year prior to launch where just such a failure had been simulated. Aaron's quick thinking and Bean's memory were able to salvage what otherwise would have been an aborted mission (at the time of the failure, the flight had just entered abort mode One Bravo). With telemetry restored, the crew proceeded to parking orbitand was able to restore and verify the functionality of their spacecraft before re-igniting the S-IVBthird stage for trans-lunar injection.
The S-IVB was originally intended to be put into a solar orbit by venting the remaining propellant. However, an extra long burn of the
ullage motors meant that venting the remaining propellant in the tank of the S-IVB did not give the rocket stage enough energy to escape the Earth-Moon system and instead the stage ended up in a semi-stable orbit around the Earth after passing by the Moon in November 18, 1969. It finally entered into solar orbit 1971, but returned to Earth orbit (briefly) 31 years later. It was discovered by amateur astronomer Bill Yeungand he gave it the temporary designation J002E3before it was determined to be an artificial object.
The Apollo 12 mission landed on an area of the Ocean of Storms that had been visited earlier by several unmanned missions (
Luna 5, Surveyor 3, and Ranger 7). The International Astronomical Union, recognizing this, christened this region "Mare Cognitium (Known Sea)". The landing site would thereafter be listed as " Statio Cognitium" on lunar maps (Conrad and Bean did not formally name their landing site, interestingly enough, though the intended touchdown point was nicknamed "Pete's Parking Lot" by Conrad).
The second lunar landing was an exercise in precision targeting, using a
Doppler Effectradar technique developed to allow the pinpoint landings needed for future Apollo missions. Most of the descent was automatic, with manual control assumed by Conrad during the final few hundred feet of descent. Unlike " Apollo 11" where Neil Armstrong took partial control of the lander and directed it further down range when he noticed that the intended landing site was strewn with boulders, Apollo 12 succeeded, on November 19, in landing within walking distance (less than 200 meters) of the " Surveyor 3"probe, which had landed on the Moon in April 1967.
Conrad actually landed "Intrepid" 580 feet short of "Pete's Parking Lot" because the planned landing point looked rougher than anticipated during the final approach to touchdown. The planned landing point was a little under 1180 feet from "Surveyor 3", a distance that was chosen to eliminate the possibility of lunar dust (being kicked up by "Intrepid's" descent engine during landing) from covering "Surveyor 3". But the actual touchdown point — 600 feet from "Surveyor 3" — did cause a thin film of dust to coat the probe, giving it a light tan hue.
To improve the quality of television pictures from the Moon, a color camera was carried on Apollo 12 (unlike the monochrome camera that was used on "
Apollo 11"). Unfortunately, when Bean carried the camera to the place near the lunar module where it was to be set up, he inadvertently pointed it directly into the Sun, destroying the vidicon tube. Television coverage of this mission was thus terminated almost immediately.
Conrad and Bean removed pieces of the "
Surveyor 3", to be taken back to Earth for analysis. It is claimed that the common bacterium" Streptococcus mitis" was found to have accidentally contaminated the spacecraft's camera prior to launch and survived dormant in this harsh environment for two and a half years. [ [http://science.nasa.gov/NEWHOME/headlines/ast01sep98_1.htm NASA Headlines] ] However, this finding has since been disputed: see the article Reports of Streptococcus mitis on the moon.
Astronauts Conrad and Bean also collected rocks and set up equipment that took measurements of the Moon's seismicity, solar wind flux and magnetic field, and relayed the measurements to Earth. (By accident Bean left several rolls of exposed film on the lunar surface.) Meanwhile Gordon, on board the "Yankee Clipper" in lunar orbit, took multispectral photographs of the surface.
The lunar plaque attached to the descent stage of "Intrepid" is unique in that unlike the other
lunar plaques, it (a) did not have a depiction of the Earth, and (b) it was textured differently (the other plaques had black lettering on polished stainless steel while the Apollo 12 plaque had the lettering in polished stainless steel while the background was brushed flat).
"Intrepid's" ascent stage was dropped (per normal procedures) after Conrad and Bean rejoined Gordon in orbit. It impacted the Moon on November 20, 1969 at 3.94 S, 21.20 W. The seismometers the astronauts had left on the lunar surface registered the vibrations for more than an hour.
The crew stayed an extra day in lunar orbit taking photographs, for a total lunar surface stay of thirty-one and a half hours and a total time in lunar orbit of eighty-nine hours.
"Yankee Clipper" returned to Earth on November 24, 1969, at 20:58 UTC (3:58pm EST, 10:58am HST), approximately 500 miles (800 km) east of
American Samoa. During landing, a 16 mm camera dislodged from storage and struck Bean in the forehead, rendering him briefly unconscious. He suffered a mild concussion, and needed six stitches.
The "Yankee Clipper" is displayed at the
Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton, Virginia. Its recovery ship, the USS "Hornet", is now open to the public as a museum in Alameda, California.
The Surveyor 3 camera retrieved by the Apollo 12 astronauts now resides in the Exploring the Planets gallery at the National Air and Space Museum. [ [http://www.nasm.si.edu/ National Air and Space Museum] ]
*Alan Bean smuggled a camera-shutter self-timer device on to the mission with the intent of taking a photograph with himself, Pete Conrad and the Surveyor 3 probe in the frame. As the timer was not part of their standard equipment, such an image would have thrown post-mission photo analysts into confusion over how the photo was taken. However, the self-timer was misplaced during the EVA and the plan was never executed.
*The Apollo 12 backup crew managed to insert into the astronaut's lunar checklist (attached to the wrists of Conrad's and Bean's spacesuits) reduced sized pictures of
Playboycenterfolds, surprising Conrad and Bean when they looked through the checklist flip-book during their first EVA. [ [http://www.boingboing.net/2007/01/13/playboy-playmates-pr.html Boing Boing] ] The Lunar Surface Journal website [http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a12/a12_cdrcuff.pdf] contains a PDF with the photocopies of their cuff checklists showing these photos. [ [http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a12/a12_cdrcuff.pdf NASA] ] The checklists also contains two pages of pre-prepared complex geological terminology at the back, to be used for the confusion of the ground crew.
* The artist
Forrest (Frosty) Myersclaims to have installed the art piece "Moon Museum" on "a leg of the Intrepid landing module with the help of an unnamed engineer at the Grumman Corporation after attempts to move the project forward through NASA's official channels were unsuccessful." [ [http://greg.org/archive/2008/02/28/the_moon_museum.html Moon Museum] ]
The Apollo 12 mission patch shows the crew's Navy background. It features a
clipper shiparriving at the moon. The ship trails fire and flies the flag of the United States. The mission name APOLLO XIIand the crew names are on a wide gold border, with a small blue trim. Blue and gold are traditionally Navy colors. The patch has four stars on it — one each for the three astronauts who flew the mission and one for Clifton Williams. Williams was killed on October 5, 1967, after a mechanical failure caused the controls of his T-38 trainer to stop responding. He trained with Conrad and Gordon as part of the back-up crew for what would be the Apollo 9mission, and would have been assigned as Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 12.
The Apollo 12 Command Module "Yankee Clipper" is on display at Virginia Air and Space Center,
The Lunar Module "Intrepid" impacted the Moon November 20, 1969 at 22:17:17.7 UT (5:17 PM EST)3.94 S, 21.20 W.
Depiction in fiction
Portions of the Apollo 12 mission are dramatized in the miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" episode entitled "That's All There Is". Conrad, Gordon and Bean were portrayed by
Paul McCrane, Tom Vericaand Dave Foley, respectively. Conrad had been portrayed by a different actor, Peter Scolari, in the first two episodes.
List of spacewalks
List of artificial objects on the Moon
* [http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19720066106_1972066106.pdf Analysis of Apollo 12 Lightning Incident, (PDF) February 1970]
* [http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19720019081_1972019081.pdf Analysis of Surveyor 3 material and photographs returned by Apollo 12 (PDF) 1972]
* [http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4012/vol3/table2.40.htm Apollo 12 Characteristics — SP-4012 NASA Historical Data Book]
* [http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19760072997_1976072997.pdf Apollo 12 Mission Report (PDF) March 1970]
* Chaikin, Andrew. "A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts". New York: Penguin Books. 1995. ISBN 978-0140241464.
* [http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19730064630_1973064630.pdf Examination of Surveyor 3 surface sampler scoop returned by Apollo 12 mission (PDF) 1971]
* Lattimer, Dick. "All We Did was Fly to the Moon". Alachua, FL: Whispering Eagle Press, 1985. ISBN 0-9611228-0-3.
* [http://moonpans.com/vr Apollo Lunar Surface QTVR Panoramas]
* [http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo-12/apollo-12-patch.jpgImage of mission patch]
* [http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/Projects/LunarAtlas/maps/images/AP12Trav.jpgMap of surface activities for Apollo 12]
* [http://www.astronautix.com/flights/apollo12.htm Apollo 12 entry in Encyclopedia Astronautica]
* [http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/apollo12info.html NASA NSSDC Master Catalog]
* [http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apollo_00a_Cover.htm APOLLO BY THE NUMBERS: A Statistical Reference by Richard W. Orloff (NASA)]
* [http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4009/cover.htm The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology]
* [http://history.nasa.gov/apsr/apsr.htm Apollo Program Summary Report]
* [http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_12/experiments/ Apollo 12 Science Experiments]
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