Apollo 12

Apollo 12 was the second manned lunar landing in the Apollo program.

  • 3.1 Start and Departure
  • 3.2 On the Moon
  • 3.3 Return and landing


Main occupation

On April 10, 1969 shortly after the successful flight of Apollo 9, NASA announced the crew for the flight of Apollo 12. If the problem of manned moon landing fail with Apollo 11, this team would not even try.

As expected, the backup crew of Apollo 9 was divided for this flight. As Commander Charles Conrad was nominated, with the Gemini 5 and Gemini 11 already had two spaceflights behind. Pilot of the command module was Richard Gordon, who had already flown Gemini 11 at Conrad. The trio was completed by the Space newcomer Alan Bean, the last astronaut to the third choice group, which was still waiting for his cue. He was pilot of the lunar module.

Replacement and support

The replacement team was led by David Scott, who had just finished with nine Apollo his second space flight. As a pilot of the command module Alfred Worden was divided, as a pilot of the lunar module James Irwin.

The support team ( support crew ) consisted of Gerald Carr, who was already on Apollo 8 in the support crew, from Paul Weitz and from Ed Gibson, a science astronauts of the fourth selection group.

Crew rotations

The Apollo crews were not compiled until shortly before the announcement of the crews, but they worked together years earlier.

Long before the first manned Apollo flight, during the year 1967 six teams were put together, which should make the first flights. Conrad, Gordon and Bean were intended as a replacement team of Mission E, a test of the combination of the Command Module and the Lunar Module in an apogee orbit. In November 1967, she was assigned to the Mission D as a replacement team, this should be the first manned test of the Lunar Module. This was Conrad's crew a good chance to be the home team from Mission G, in which the first manned lunar landing should be attempted, because usually was a backup crew three flights later become the main team.

In summer 1968, but delays recorded from the project, so that had to be rescheduled. E mission was canceled, and the team used for a previously scheduled flight to the moon (Apollo 8). This promoted their replacement team to Neil Armstrong suddenly to the square of the captaincy of the mission G, then the Apollo 11 actually performed the first lunar landing. From Mission D was Apollo 9 so that Conrad, Gordon and Bean were assigned the first H- mission, which was numbered with Apollo 12.

Had the flights were carried out in the order in which it was planned in the spring of 1968, Conrad would have been the first man on the moon.


The individual stages of the Saturn V rocket AS -507 were delivered from March to May 1969 at the Kennedy Space Center. The Apollo spacecraft CSM -108 was named the Yankee Clipper, the Lunar Module LM -6 the name Intrepid (English fearless / fearless ).

The mission of Apollo 12 badge shows a sailing ship ( Clipper ), which indicates that all three astronauts come from the U.S. Navy. In the background are four stars to see, symbolizing the three crew members, the astronaut Clifton Williams, who was assigned as Lunar Module Pilot, but on October 5, 1967, died in a plane crash and was replaced by Alan Bean.

On September 8, 1969, the rocket to the launch pad 39A could be rolled. Two days before the start of a leak was discovered in the tank of the Apollo spacecraft. The tank was removed and replaced with a copy of Apollo 13.

When connecting speakers ( Capcom ) the backup crew, the support crew, as well as the astronaut Don Lind worked.

History of the flight

Start and Departure

Apollo 12 was launched on November 14, 1969 at 16:22 UTC, during a thunderstorm. The spacecraft was hit twice during the launch of lightning strikes. The strikes 36.5 and 52 seconds after the start were probably caused by an electrically conductive channel of ionized gas, the exhaust plume of the rocket. Result was the temporary loss of most electrical systems in the Apollo spacecraft, but could easily reactivate itself in orbit. Except for the loss of nine minor telemetry sensors, the start was still on schedule. After checking out the S- IVB stage was successfully fired for the three and a half day flight to the moon.

Ahead of schedule, increased Conrad and Bean through the tunnel into the lunar module and examined carefully whether the lightning had left any damage to Intrepid at startup.

On the Moon

For Apollo 12 landing site in a 3 degrees was set 11 minutes and 51 seconds south latitude and 23 degrees 23 minutes and 8 seconds west longitude in the Oceanus Procellarum. The landing site was chosen so that it was possible to build parts of the on April 20, 1967 landed on the moon space probe Surveyor 3, and then to bring back to Earth. Conrad and Bean landed the lunar module on November 19, 1969 at 06:54 UTC only 163 meters from this probe.

Conrad could see the Apollo spacecraft with the naked eye, as it flew over the landing site at the next circumlunar flight. Likewise, Gordon was able to sift through in the following encirclement both Surveyor 3 and Intrepid from the mother ship. The distance was about 110 km.

When Conrad stepped on the moon, he said: " Whoopie! Man, did june have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me " (about ". ! Hoppsa Man, that was perhaps a small one for Neil, but for me, this is a great " ). He referred to his small stature. In addition, the award shall have been the subject of a bet with the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. Conrad had claimed that NASA astronauts make no rules about what to say when entering the moon, and he had agreed with her on those words.

Apollo 12 also transported for the first time a color TV camera, the bean, however, directed at the sun when setting up. This immediately destroyed the image pickup tube of the camera and made TV broadcasts from the beginning of the mission impossible.

Conrad and Bean set the new experiment module ALSEP in about 200 meters distance. The seismometer was so sensitive that it has already registered the step shocks of the returning astronauts and radioed to Earth. In addition, the scope included a magnetometer, as well as the already in Apollo 11 carried the solar wind experiment.

After resting in the lander, the astronauts went to the Surveyor spacecraft, from which they dismantled parts and brought back to earth.

Return and landing

Conrad and Bean started the ascent stage of the lunar module and let the engine run for about seven minutes. The stay on the moon was 31 hours, 31 minutes and eleven seconds taken, of which the astronauts had spent a total of just under eight hours outside the lunar module. In addition to the no longer needed equipment, the astronauts could inadvertently also several magazines with exposed film back, including all color shots of the second EVA.

Several course corrections were necessary, could be coupled to Intrepid on Yankee Clipper. After the transfer, the lunar module was detached and placed specifically on a collision course with the moon. Intrepid struck at about 1.5 km / s velocity at about 72 km from the seismometer. The data of the next moon quake were sparked directly to the earth from the ALSEP.

Apollo 12 was still a full day in the lunar orbit to complement the photographic mapping of the Moon.

The command module Yankee Clipper splashed on November 24, 1969 at 20:58 UTC ten days, four hours, 36 minutes and 24 seconds after launch. The impact was relatively hard, and Alan Bean was injured by a falling camera to the eye. As Apollo 11 was the first landing capsule with the tip down, but soon targeted on.

The biological precautions were similar to those of Apollo 11 astronauts were placed in a quarantine container aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Five days later, the astronauts, including containers were flown from Hawaii to Houston, where they were released after a total of 16 days from quarantine.

In the laboratory examination of the camera the Surveyor 3 probe reported microbiologist Frederick Mitchell, that in the isolation of the camera dried bacteria (Streptococcus withus ) would have traveled to the moon. The bacteria were able to germinate again in the incubator and were therefore regarded as an indication of possible survivability in space (see panspermia ). Later it turned out that insufficient sterility precautions have been taken and that the bacteria found probably originate from a contamination in the laboratory.

The command module of Apollo 12 is located in the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, VA.

Importance for the Apollo program

With Apollo 12 for the first time succeeded in an almost fully automated precision landing. With the ALSEP package valuable scientific data could be received at later time points. Overall, the Apollo 12 mission went so smoothly that for Apollo 13 is a more difficult goal could be envisaged: a landing in the Fra -Mauro highlands.

Whereabouts of the S- IVB stage

The S- IVB stage of Apollo 12 mission was probably rediscovered in 2002 and mistaken for an asteroid, to whom they gave the name J002E3.