Apollo 12 — November 1969
Apollo 12 — Continuing Our Lunar Exploration
As of this writing, the United States is the only country to have crew members walk on the Moon — in fact, we did so six times between 1969 and 1972.
The first of these missions was the famously successful lunar landing of Apollo 11.
The second was Apollo 12, whose original launch date was scheduled for September of 1969, but was delayed until November following the success of Apollo 11. Thus, we celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo 12 mission from November 14 to November 24…
On November 14th, 1969, Commander Charles Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean launched from Kennedy Space Center and, after navigating some frightening moments involving lightning strikes, became the second crew to step foot on the surface of the Moon. On November 19th, Conrad and Bean became the third and fourth humans to walk on the surface of the Moon.
The Small Step and... The Long Step?
When Neil Armstrong descended the ladder of the lunar module and stepped onto the surface of the Moon, the event was broadcast worldwide. Armstrong is remembered for his famous quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
But for the second crew, the majority of the scrutiny was focused upon the precision of the lunar module landing, so once that was achieved the commentary took on a less serious nature. Charles Conrad's shorter stature may have endowed him with a gift for repartee — when he descended onto the Moon's surface, he reportedly said, "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small [step] for Neil, but that's a long one for me."
The Second Lunar American Flag
This story would be incomplete without a nod to the international competition that started it all. President Kennedy was not shy about acknowledging that the impetus behind the mission to the Moon was delivering a message to Russia and to the world that the United States was the most advanced and capable nation on the planet.
While there was some conversation about planting a United Nations flag on the first landing, the consensus ultimately was to plant a U.S. flag. Starting with the first lunar landing, an American flag was planted each of the six times humans walked on the Moon. The Apollo 12 Mission was the second.
There is no wind in space, so the American-made 3x5 Nylon American flags were assembled with a horizontal pole through a hemmed pocket to support the top of the flag and to make it appear to fly somewhat similarly to how it would float in the wind on Earth. The Apollo 12 crew had difficulty with the latch that was intended to support the horizontal pole, so this flag was left to fly at an angle.
Apollo 12 Video Footage
For more on the Apollo Missions, including the Apollo 12 Mission to the Moon, here are videos that incorporate special moments along with some of NASA's best available footage.
"Because it is There"
President Kennedy's Inspiring "Moon Speech" – 2 minutes
Quick Documentary of the Apollo 12 Mission – 25 minutes
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