Apollo 12

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Apollo 12
Surveyor 3-Apollo 12.jpg
Astronaut Pete Conrad studies the Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which Apollo 12's lunar module (top right) landed close to.
Mission typeManned lunar landing
OperatorNASA[1]
COSPAR IDCSM: 1969-099A
LM: 1969-099C
SATCAT №CSM: 4225
LM: 4226
Mission duration10 days, 4 hours, 36 minutes, 24 seconds
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftApollo CSM-108
Apollo LM-6
ManufacturerCSM: North American Rockwell
LM: Grumman
Launch massCM: 28,838 kilograms (63,577 lb)
LM: 15,235 kilograms (33,587 lb)
Crew
Crew size3
MembersCharles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.
Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
Alan L. Bean
CallsignCSM: Yankee Clipper, LM: Intrepid
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 14, 1969, 16:22:00 (1969-11-14UTC16:22Z) UTC
RocketSaturn V SA-507
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing dateNovember 24, 1969, 20:58:24 (1969-11-24UTC20:58:25Z) UTC
Landing siteSouth Pacific Ocean
15°47′S 165°9′W / 15.783°S 165.150°W / -15.783; -165.150 (Apollo 12 splashdown)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Periselene101.10 kilometers (54.59 nmi)
Aposelene122.42 kilometers (66.10 nmi)
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertionNovember 18, 1969, 03:47:23 UTC
Departed orbitNovember 21, 1969, 20:49:16 UTC
Orbits45
Lunar lander
Spacecraft componentLunar Module
Landing dateNovember 19, 1969, 06:54:35 UTC
Return launchNovember 20, 1969, 14:25:47 UTC
Landing siteOceanus Procellarum
3°00′45″S 23°25′18″W / 3.012389°S 23.421569°W / -3.012389; -23.421569
Sample mass34.35 kilograms (75.7 lb)
Surface EVAs2
EVA durationTotal: 7 hours, 45 minutes, 18 seconds
First: 3 hours, 56 minutes, 03 seconds
Second: 3 hours, 49 minutes, 15 seconds
Docking with LM
Docking dateNovember 14, 1969, 19:48:53 UTC
Undocking dateNovember 19, 1969, 04:16:02 UTC
Docking with LM Ascent Stage
Docking dateNovember 20, 1969, 17:58:20 UTC
Undocking dateNovember 20, 1969, 20:21:31 UTC

AP12goodship.png Apollo 12 crew.jpg
Left to right: Conrad, Gordon, Bean


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Apollo 12
Surveyor 3-Apollo 12.jpg
Astronaut Pete Conrad studies the Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which Apollo 12's lunar module (top right) landed close to.
Mission typeManned lunar landing
OperatorNASA[1]
COSPAR IDCSM: 1969-099A
LM: 1969-099C
SATCAT №CSM: 4225
LM: 4226
Mission duration10 days, 4 hours, 36 minutes, 24 seconds
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftApollo CSM-108
Apollo LM-6
ManufacturerCSM: North American Rockwell
LM: Grumman
Launch massCM: 28,838 kilograms (63,577 lb)
LM: 15,235 kilograms (33,587 lb)
Crew
Crew size3
MembersCharles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.
Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
Alan L. Bean
CallsignCSM: Yankee Clipper, LM: Intrepid
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 14, 1969, 16:22:00 (1969-11-14UTC16:22Z) UTC
RocketSaturn V SA-507
Launch siteKennedy LC-39A
End of mission
Landing dateNovember 24, 1969, 20:58:24 (1969-11-24UTC20:58:25Z) UTC
Landing siteSouth Pacific Ocean
15°47′S 165°9′W / 15.783°S 165.150°W / -15.783; -165.150 (Apollo 12 splashdown)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Periselene101.10 kilometers (54.59 nmi)
Aposelene122.42 kilometers (66.10 nmi)
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertionNovember 18, 1969, 03:47:23 UTC
Departed orbitNovember 21, 1969, 20:49:16 UTC
Orbits45
Lunar lander
Spacecraft componentLunar Module
Landing dateNovember 19, 1969, 06:54:35 UTC
Return launchNovember 20, 1969, 14:25:47 UTC
Landing siteOceanus Procellarum
3°00′45″S 23°25′18″W / 3.012389°S 23.421569°W / -3.012389; -23.421569
Sample mass34.35 kilograms (75.7 lb)
Surface EVAs2
EVA durationTotal: 7 hours, 45 minutes, 18 seconds
First: 3 hours, 56 minutes, 03 seconds
Second: 3 hours, 49 minutes, 15 seconds
Docking with LM
Docking dateNovember 14, 1969, 19:48:53 UTC
Undocking dateNovember 19, 1969, 04:16:02 UTC
Docking with LM Ascent Stage
Docking dateNovember 20, 1969, 17:58:20 UTC
Undocking dateNovember 20, 1969, 20:21:31 UTC

AP12goodship.png Apollo 12 crew.jpg
Left to right: Conrad, Gordon, Bean


Project Apollo
Manned missions
← Apollo 11Apollo 13

Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the United States Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon (an H type mission). It was launched on November 14, 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean performed just over one day and seven hours of lunar surface activity while Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon remained in lunar orbit. The landing site for the mission was located in the southeastern portion of the Ocean of Storms.

Unlike the first landing on Apollo 11, Conrad and Bean achieved a precise landing at their expected location, the site of the Surveyor 3 unmanned probe, which had landed on April 20, 1967. They carried the first color television camera to the lunar surface on an Apollo flight, but transmission was lost after Bean accidentally destroyed the camera by pointing it at the Sun. On one of two moonwalks, they visited the Surveyor, and removed some parts for return to Earth. The mission ended on November 24 with a successful splashdown.

Crew[edit]

PositionAstronaut
CommanderCharles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.
Third spaceflight
Command Module PilotRichard F. Gordon, Jr.
Second and last spaceflight
Lunar Module PilotAlan L. Bean
First spaceflight

Backup crew[edit]

PositionAstronaut
CommanderDavid R. Scott
Command Module PilotAlfred M. Worden
Lunar Module PilotJames B. Irwin
The backup crew would later fly on Apollo 15.

Support crew[edit]

Flight directors[edit]

Mission parameters[edit]

LM–CSM docking[edit]

Extravehicular Activities (EVAs)[edit]

EVA 1 start: November 19, 1969, 11:32:35 UTC[edit]

EVA 1 end: November 19, 15:28:38 UTC[edit]

EVA 2 start: November 20, 1969, 03:54:45 UTC[edit]

EVA 2 end: November 20, 07:44:00 UTC[edit]


Mission highlights[edit]

Pete Conrad descends from the Lunar Module (LM)
Alan Bean pictured by Pete Conrad (reflected in Bean's helmet)
Conrad, Surveyor 3 and the LM Intrepid
Replica of the plaque attached to the Apollo 12 LM

Launch and transfer[edit]

Apollo 12 launches from Kennedy Space Center, November 14, 1969

Apollo 12 launched on schedule from Kennedy Space Center, during a rainstorm. It was the first rocket launch attended by an incumbent US president, Richard Nixon. Thirty-six-and-a-half seconds after lift-off, the vehicle triggered a lightning discharge through itself and down to the earth through the Saturn's ionized plume. Protective circuits on the fuel cells in the Service Module (SM) falsely detected overloads and took all three fuel cells offline, along with much of the Command/Service Module (CSM) instrumentation. A second strike at 52 seconds after launch knocked out the "8-ball" attitude indicator. The telemetry stream at Mission Control was garbled. However, the vehicle continued to fly correctly; the strikes had not affected the Saturn V Instrument Unit.

The loss of all three fuel cells put the CSM entirely on batteries. They were unable to maintain normal 28V DC bus voltages into the heavy 75 amp launch loads. One of the AC inverters dropped offline. These power supply problems lit nearly every warning light on the control panel and caused much of the instrumentation to malfunction.

Legendary EECOM John Aaron (the original NASA "steely-eyed missile man")[3] remembered the telemetry failure pattern from an earlier test when a power supply malfunctioned in the CSM Signal Conditioning Equipment (SCE). The SCE converts raw signals from instrumentation to standard voltages for the spacecraft instrument displays and telemetry encoders.[4]

Aaron made a call, "Try SCE to aux." This switched the SCE to a backup power supply. The switch was fairly obscure and neither the Flight Director, CAPCOM, nor Commander Conrad immediately recognized it. Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean, flying in the right seat as the CSM systems engineer, remembered the SCE switch from a training incident a year earlier when the same failure had been simulated. Aaron's quick thinking and Bean's memory saved what could have been an aborted mission. Bean put the fuel cells back on line, and with telemetry restored, the launch continued successfully. Once in earth parking orbit, the crew carefully checked out their spacecraft before re-igniting the S-IVB third stage for trans-lunar injection. The lightning strikes had caused no serious permanent damage.

Initially, it was feared that the lightning strike could have caused the Command Module's (CM) parachute mechanism to prematurely fire, disabling the explosive bolts that open the parachute compartment to deploy them.[citation needed] If they were indeed disabled, the Command Module would have crashed uncontrollably into the Pacific Ocean and killed the crew instantly. Since there was no way to figure out whether or not this was the case, ground controllers decided not to tell the astronauts about the possibility. The parachutes deployed and functioned normally at the end of the mission.

After Lunar Module (LM) separation, the S-IVB was intended to fly into solar orbit. The S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system was fired and the remaining propellants vented to slow it down to fly past the Moon's trailing edge (the Apollo spacecraft always approached the Moon's leading edge). The Moon's gravity would then slingshot the stage into solar orbit. However, a small error in the state vector in the Saturn's guidance system caused the S-IVB to fly past the Moon at too high an altitude to achieve earth escape velocity. It remained in a semi-stable earth orbit after passing the Moon on November 18, 1969. It finally escaped earth orbit in 1971 but was briefly recaptured in earth orbit 31 years later. It was discovered by amateur astronomer Bill Yeung who gave it the temporary designation J002E3 before it was determined to be an artificial object.[5][6]

Landing[edit]

Lunar Module above the Moon
High-resolution Lunar Orbiter 3 image of the Apollo 12 landing site at center, used in mission planning. The area shown is approximately 1.75 x 1.75 km.
Landing site photographed by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2011

The Apollo 12 mission landed on November 19, 1969, 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 Cognitum (Known Sea). The Lunar coordinates of the landing site were 3.01239° S latitude, 23.42157° W longitude.[7] The landing site would thereafter be listed as Statio Cognitum on lunar maps. Conrad and Bean did not formally name their landing site, though Conrad nicknamed the intended touchdown area "Pete's Parking Lot".

The second lunar landing was an exercise in precision targeting, which would be 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 had to use the manual control to direct his lander downrange of the computer's target which was strewn with boulders, Apollo 12 succeeded in landing at its intended target - within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed on the Moon in April 1967.[8] This was the first — and, to date, only — occasion in which humans have "caught up" to a probe sent to land on another world.

Conrad actually landed Intrepid 580 feet (177 m) short of "Pete's Parking Lot", because it looked rougher during final approach than anticipated, and was a little under 1,180 feet (360 m) 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.[9] But the actual touchdown point — approximately 600 feet (183 m) from Surveyor 3 — did cause high velocity sandblasting of the probe. It was later determined that the sandblasting removed more dust than it delivered onto the Surveyor, because the probe was covered by a thin layer that gave it a tan hue as observed by the astronauts, and every portion of the surface exposed to the direct sandblasting was lightened back toward the original white color through the removal of lunar dust.[10]

EVAs[edit]

When Conrad, who was somewhat shorter than Neil Armstrong, stepped onto the lunar surface, his first words were "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me."[8][11] This was not an off-the-cuff remark: Conrad had made a US$500 bet with reporter Oriana Fallaci he would say these words, after she had queried whether NASA had instructed Neil Armstrong what to say as he stepped onto the Moon. Conrad later said he was never able to collect the money.[12][13]

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 SEC tube. Television coverage of this mission was thus terminated almost immediately.[14] See also: Apollo TV camera.

Apollo 12 successfully landed within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe. Conrad and Bean removed pieces of the probe 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.[15] However, this finding has since been disputed: see 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. The instruments were part of the first complete nuclear-powered ALSEP station set up by astronauts on the Moon to relay long-term data from the lunar surface. The instruments on Apollo 11 were not as extensive or designed to operate long term. The astronauts also took photographs, although by accident Bean left several rolls of exposed film on the lunar surface. Meanwhile Gordon, on board the Yankee Clipper in lunar orbit, took multi-spectral photographs of the surface.

The lunar plaque attached to the descent stage of Intrepid is unique in that unlike the other 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).

Return[edit]

Apollo 12 recovery by the USS Hornet

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°56′S 21°12′W / 3.94°S 21.20°W / -3.94; -21.20. 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 31 and a half hours and a total time in lunar orbit of eighty-nine hours.

On the return flight to Earth after leaving lunar orbit, the crew of Apollo 12 witnessed (and photographed) a solar eclipse, though this one was of the Earth eclipsing the Sun.

Splashdown[edit]

Yankee Clipper returned to Earth on November 24, 1969 at 20:58 UTC (3:58pm EST, 10:58am HST), in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 500 nautical miles (800 km) east of American Samoa. During splashdown, a 16 mm film camera dislodged from storage and struck Bean in the forehead, rendering him briefly unconscious. He suffered a mild concussion and needed six stitches.[16] After recovery by the USS Hornet, they were flown to Pago Pago International Airport in Tafuna for a reception, before being flown on a C-141 cargo plane to Honolulu.

Stunts and mementos[edit]

Mission insignia[edit]

The Apollo 12 mission patch shows the crew's navy background; all three astronauts at the time of the mission were U.S. Navy commanders. It features a clipper ship arriving at the Moon, representing the Command Module Yankee Clipper. The ship trails fire, and flies the flag of the United States. The mission name APOLLO XII and the crew names are on a wide gold border, with a small blue trim. Blue and gold are traditionally U.S. Navy colors. The patch has four stars on it — one each for the three astronauts who flew the mission and one for Clifton Williams, a U.S. naval aviator and astronaut who was killed on October 5, 1967, after a mechanical failure caused the controls of his T-38 trainer to stop responding and crash. He trained with Conrad and Gordon as part of the backup crew for what would be the Apollo 9 mission, and would have been assigned as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 12.[8]

Spacecraft location[edit]

Apollo 12 Command Module Yankee Clipper on display at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia

The Apollo 12 Command Module Yankee Clipper is on display at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia.

In 2002, astronomers thought they might have discovered another moon orbiting Earth, which they designated J002E3, that turned out to be the third stage of the Apollo 12 Saturn V rocket.[23]

Series of time-lapse LRO images showing a day at the Apollo 12 landing site, with the flag still standing

The Lunar Module Intrepid impacted the Moon November 20, 1969 at 22:17:17.7 UT (5:17 PM EST) 3°56′S 21°12′W / 3.94°S 21.20°W / -3.94; -21.20. In 2009, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) photographed the Apollo 12 landing site. The Intrepid Lunar Module descent stage, experiment package (ALSEP), Surveyor 3 spacecraft, and astronaut footpaths are all visible.[24] In 2011, the LRO returned to the landing site at a lower altitude to take higher resolution photographs.[25]

Depiction in media[edit]

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 Verica, and Dave Foley, respectively. Conrad had been portrayed by a different actor, Peter Scolari, in the first episode.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Orloff, Richard W. (September 2004) [First published 2000]. Table of Contents. "Apollo by the Numbers: A Statistical Reference". NASA History Division, Office of Policy and Plans. NASA History Series (Washington, D.C.: NASA). ISBN 0-16-050631-X. LCCN 00-061677. NASA SP-2000-4029. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ Williams, David R. "Apollo Landing Site Coordinates". National Space Science Data Center. NASA. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ Lovell & Kluger, Lost Moon, 1994, p. 157
  4. ^ Kranz, Eugene F.; Covington, James Otis (1971) ["A series of eight articles reprinted by permission from the March 1970 issue of Astronautics & Aeronautics, a publication of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics."]. Flight Control in the Apollo Program. "What Made Apollo a Success?". NASA History Program Office (Washington, D.C.: NASA). OCLC 69849598. NASA SP-287. Retrieved November 7, 2011.  Chapter 5.
  5. ^ Paul Chodas and Steve Chesley (2002-10-09). "J002E3: An Update". nasa.gov. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  6. ^ Jorgensen, K.; Rivkin, A.; Binzel, R.; Whitely, R.; Hergenrother, C.; Chodas, P.; Chesley, S.; Vilas, F. (May 2003). "Observations of J002E3: Possible Discovery of an Apollo Rocket Body". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 35: 981. 
  7. ^ "Landing Sites". The Apollo Program. National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Chaikin 1995
  9. ^ "1969 Year in Review: Apollo 11". UPI.com (United Press International). 1969. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  10. ^ Immer, Christopher A.; Metzger, Philip; Hintze, Paul E. et al. (February 2011). "Apollo 12 Lunar Module Exhaust Plume Impingement on Lunar Surveyor III". Icarus (Amsterdam: Elsevier) 211 (2): 1089–1102. Bibcode:2011Icar..211.1089I. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.11.013. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Apollo 12 First Steps" on YouTube
  12. ^ Chaikin 1995, p. 261
  13. ^ Sawyer, Kathy (July 10, 1999). "Conrad: Pioneer of the Final Frontier". The Washington Post. p. C1. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ Jones, Eric M., ed. (1995). "One Small Step". Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal. NASA. Retrieved November 7, 2011.  Note at 109:57:55.
  15. ^ Noever, David (September 1, 1998). "Earth Microbes on the Moon". Science@NASA. NASA. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Apollo 12 Mission Report" (PDF). Apollo 12 Lunar Surface Journal. NASA. March 1970. MSC-01855. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Cuff Checklists" (PDF). Apollo 12 Lunar Surface Journal. NASA. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  18. ^ Jardin, Xeni (January 13, 2007). "Playboy Playmates pranked into Apollo 12 mission checklists". Boing Boing. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  19. ^ Rowe, Chip (January 10, 2007). "On Buckeyes, Nanotechnology and Playmates in Space". The Playboy Blog. Playboy Enterprises. Archived from the original on March 17, 2007. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  20. ^ "NASA Memorabilia Auction". Alternative Investing (CNBC). Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Playmate Flashback: DeDe Lind Circles the Moon". Playmate of the Year. Playboy Enterprises. January 4, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  22. ^ Allen, Greg (February 28, 2008). "The Moon Museum". greg.org: the making of. greg.org. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  23. ^ Cain, Fraser (June 12, 2008). "How Many Moons Does Earth Have?". Universe Today. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  24. ^ Garner, Robert, ed. (September 3, 2009). "Apollo 12 and Surveyor 3". NASA. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  25. ^ Neal-Jones, Nancy; Zubritsky, Elizabeth; Cole, Steve (September 6, 2011). Garner, Robert, ed. "NASA Spacecraft Images Offer Sharper Views of Apollo Landing Sites". NASA. Goddard Release No. 11-058 (co-issued as NASA HQ Release No. 11-289). Retrieved November 7, 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

NASA reports

Multimedia