#65 Science in History
19th November 1969
As we all know, the Apollo 11 mission marked the first successful landing of astronauts on the Moon, making Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin the first humans to set foot on another world. Most of the planet watched in awe on July 20, 1969, as Armstrong descended the ladder of the lunar module, proclaiming those famous words, 'That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.'
Following the resounding success of Apollo 11, NASA wasted no time in advancing the exploration of our lunar companion.
The subsequent mission, Apollo 12, quickly followed suit, further solidifying humanity's presence on the Moon. On November 14, 1969, just a few short months after Armstrong and Aldrin's historic lunar stroll, the crew of Apollo 12 embarked on their journey.
Commander Charles 'Pete' Conrad, Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean, and Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon comprised the intrepid crew of Apollo 12. Their mission objectives included not only exploring the lunar surface but also conducting scientific experiments and enhancing our understanding of Earth's natural satellite.
One unique aspect of the Apollo 12 mission was its precision landing near the Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which had touched down on the Moon in April 1967. This precision landing allowed Conrad and Bean to collect samples from the Surveyor spacecraft, offering valuable insights into the effects of the lunar environment over time.
The astronauts of Apollo 12, with their characteristic humour and camaraderie, brought their own flair to the lunar landscape. During the mission, Commander Conrad famously exclaimed, 'Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me.' His words, a playful nod to Neil Armstrong's iconic statement during Apollo 11, added a touch of levity to the serious business of space exploration.
Apollo 17 was the final lunar landing mission in the program and took place in December 1972. After Apollo 17, there were originally plans for additional Apollo missions, including Apollo 18, 19, and 20. However, due to budget constraints and changing priorities, these missions were eventually cancelled. After six missions, with twelve astronauts landing, the program ended.
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