Apollo 12

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Apollo 12
Mission insignia
Apollo 12 insignia
Mission statistics
Mission name: Apollo 12
Call sign: Command module:
Yankee Clipper
Lunar module:
Number of
Launch: November 14, 1969
16:22:00 UTC
Kennedy Space Center
LC 39A
Lunar landing: November 18, 1969
06:54:35 UTC
3° 0' 44.60" S - 23° 25' 17.65" W
Oceanus Procellarum/Mare Cognitium
(Ocean of Storms/Known Sea)
Lunar EVA
1st: 3 h 56 min 03 s
2nd: 3 h 49 min 15 s
Total: 7 h 45 min 18 s
Lunar surface
31 h 31 min 11.6 s
Lunar sample
34.35 kg (75.729 lbs)
Splashdown: November 24, 1969
20:58:24 UTC
15° 47' S - 165° 9' W
Duration: 10 d 4 h 36 min 24 s
Number of
lunar orbits:
Time in
lunar orbit:
88 h 58 min 11.52 s
Mass: CSM 28,838 kg;
LM 15,235 kg
Crew picture
Apollo 12 crew portrait (L-R: Conrad, Gordon and Bean)
Apollo 12 Crew

Apollo 12 was the sixth manned mission in the Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon.


Backup crew

Support crew

Mission parameters

LM - CSM docking


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

See also


Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me. —Pete Conrad as he stepped onto the lunar surface for the first time.

Mission Highlights

File:Apollo 12 Bean.jpg
Alan Bean descends from the LM. (NASA)
Alan Bean pictured by Pete Conrad (echoed in Bean's helmet) (NASA)
Conrad, Surveyor 3 and the LM Intrepid (NASA)
File:Surveyor 3 Conrad.jpeg
Conrad jiggles the Surveyor III craft. (NASA)

Shortly after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, the Saturn V rocket body was hit by a bolt of upper-atmosphere lightning. The CM's instruments went off-line for a few seconds, but power was quickly restored after the crew followed EECOM John Aaron's advice of "Flight, try SCE to 'Aux'".

The S-IVB third stage 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 Yeung and he gave it the temporary designation J002E3 before it was determined to be an artificial, not natural, 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. The descent was automatic, with only a few manual corrections by Conrad. Although Apollo 11 had made an almost embarrassingly imprecise landing well outside the designated target area, Apollo 12 succeeded, on November 19, in making a pin-point 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, and took two Moon-walks lasting just under four hours each. They 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.

photograph of the plaque attached to the Apollo 12 LM

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 20 November, 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 stay of thirty-one and a half hours.

The command module and its crew were flawlessly recovered by the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. The ship is now open to the public as a museum in Alameda, CA. The command module is displayed at the Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton, Virginia


  • Pete Conrad smuggled a camera-shutter self-timer device on to the mission with the intent of taking a photograph with both himself and Alan Bean 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. Unfortunately the self-timer was mis-placed 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 Playboy centerfolds, thus introducing pornography to the moon for the first time when Conrad and Bean were looking through the lists during their first EVA.
  • Another idea that did not materialize was that Conrad - who loved collecting baseball caps - had a giant one made that would fit over his space helmet. He wanted to wear it during his lunar EVA's, but there was no way that it could be smuggled on board Apollo 12 without it being found out.
  • The Apollo 12 mission 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 had been assigned to the back-up crew for what would be the Apollo 9 mission and would have most likely been assigned as Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 12.
  • A part of one of the rock samples collected on Apollo 12, lunar sample 12013, has a composition which is remarkably similar to some tektites. It is especially similar to high-magnesium javenites (part of the Australasian strewn field of Southeast Asia).


External links

Template:Project Apollo

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