Encyclopedia Astronautica
Apollo 12



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LM with Surveyor
LM on Moon with Surveyor
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
Apollo 12 Lunar Module in Shop
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
Surveyor 3 with astronaut; Apollo 12 Lunar Module in the background
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
Credit: www.spacefacts.de - www.spacefacts.de
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Apollo 12
Surveyor 3 / Apollo 12 Artists Concept
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
A lonely Surveyor 3 on Lunar Surface; Apollo 12 LM in the distance.
Credit: NASA
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Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3 as photographed by the crew of Apollo 12
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
Apollo 12 Patch
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
Bean steps onto the moon
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 12
Intrepid on the moon
Credit: NASA
Crew: Bean, Conrad, Gordon. Second manned lunar landing. Precision landing near Surveyor 3 that landed in 1967. Lightning struck the booster twice during ascent. Decision was made to press on to moon, despite possibility landing pyrotechnics damaged. Backup crew: Irwin, Scott, Worden.

Apollo 12 (AS-507)-with astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard F. Gordon, Jr., and Alan L. Bean as the crewmen-was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 11:22 a.m. EST November 14. Lightning struck the space vehicle twice, at 36.5 seconds and 52 seconds into the mission. The first strike was visible to spectators at the launch site. No damage was done. Except for special attention given to verifying all spacecraft systems because of the lightning strikes, the activities during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, and translunar coast were similar to those of Apollo 10 and Apollo 11.

During the translunar coast astronauts Conrad and Bean transferred to the LM one-half hour earlier than planned in order to obtain full TV coverage through the Goldstone tracking station. The 56-minute TV transmission showed excellent color pictures of the CSM, the intravehicular transfer, the LM interior, the earth, and the moon.

At 10:47 p.m. EST, November 17, the spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of 312.6 x 115.9 kilometers. A second service propulsion system burn circularized the orbit with a 122.5-kilometer apolune and a 100.6-kilometer perilune. Conrad and Bean again transferred to the LM, where they perfomed housekeeping chores, a voice and telemetry test, and an oxygen purge system check. They then returned to the CM.

Conrad and Bean reentered the LM, checked out all systems, and at 10:17 p.m. EST on November 18 fired the reaction control system thrusters to separate the CSM 108 (the Yankee Clipper) from the LM-6 (the Intrepid). At 1:55 a.m. EST November 19, the Intrepid landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms, about 163 meters from the Surveyor III spacecraft that had landed April 19, 1967. Conrad, shorter than Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, July 20), had a little difficulty negotiating the last step from the LM ladder to the lunar surface. When he touched the surface at 6:44 a.m. EST November 19, he exclaimed, "Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neil, but that's a long one for me."

Bean joined Conrad on the surface at 7:14 a.m. They collected a 1.9-kilogram contingency sample of lunar material and later a 14.8-kilogram selected sample. They also deployed an S-band antenna, solar wind composition experiment, and the American flag. An Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package with a SNAP-27 atomic generator was deployed about 182 meters from the LM. After 3 hours 56 minutes on the lunar surface, the two astronauts entered the Intrepid to rest and check plans for the next EVA.

The astronauts again left the LM at 10:55 p.m. EST November 19. During the second EVA, Conrad and Bean retrieved the lunar module TV camera for return to earth for a failure analysis, obtained photographic panoramas, core and trench samples, a lunar environment sample, and assorted rock, dirt, bedrock, and molten samples. The crew then examined and retrieved parts of Surveyor III, including the TV camera and soil scoop. After 3 hours 49 minutes on the lunar surface during the second EVA, the two crewmen entered the LM at 2:44 a.m. EST November 20. Meanwhile astronaut Gordon, orbiting the moon in the Yankee Clipper, had completed a lunar multispectral photography experiment and photographed proposed future landing sites.

At 9:26 a.m. EST November 20, after 31 hours 31 minutes on the moon, Intrepid successfully lifted off with 34.4 kilograms of lunar samples. Rendezvous maneuvers went as planned. The LM docked with the CSM at 12:58 p.m. November 20. The last 24 minutes of the rendezvous sequence was televised. After the crew transferred with the samples, equipment, and film to the Yankee Clipper, the Intrepid was jettisoned and intentionally crashed onto the lunar surface at 5:17 p.m. November 20, 72.2 kilometers southeast of Surveyor III. The crash produced reverberations that lasted about 30 minutes and were detected by the seismometer left on the moon.

At 3:49 p.m. EST November 21, the crew fired the service propulsion system engine, injecting the CSM into a transearth trajectory after 89 hours 2 minutes in lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of the receding moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and a question and answer session with scientists and the press was conducted.

Parachute deployment and other reentry events occurred as planned. The CM splashed down in mid-Pacific at 3:58 p.m. EST November 24, 7.25 kilometers from the recovery ship, U.S.S. Hornet. The astronauts, wearing flight suits and biological face masks, were airlifted by helicopter from the CM to the recovery ship, where they entered the mobile quarantine facility. They would remain in this facility until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, MSC. The Apollo 12 mission objectives were achieved and the experiments successfully accomplished.

Official NASA Account of the Mission from Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of Apollo Lunar Exploration Missions, by W. David Compton, published as NASA SP-4214 in the NASA History Series, 1989.

The morning of November 14, 1969, was cold, cloudy, and wet at Kennedy Space Center. Weather radar showed rain showers marking a cold front 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of the Cape and moving south. With launch only hours away, rain, broken low clouds, and overcast at 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) caused launch officials to consider their options. Reports indicated no thunderstorms or severe turbulence in the area, however, and conditions were better than the minimums specified by launch rules. An hour and 22 minutes before liftoff, a pump replenishing liquid oxygen in the launch vehicle tanks failed. With success depending on a backup pump, launch director Walter Kapryan chose to proceed. The crew had trained intensively for the specific features of the planned landing site, and if the day's launch window closed, that site would not be accessible for another month.

At 11:22 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, President Richard M. Nixon - the only incumbent chief executive ever to witness an Apollo launch - along with 3,000 invited guests and a large crowd of tourists, watched as the Saturn V rose from the pad and accelerated toward the clouds. Just before the vehicle disappeared into the overcast, two streaks of lightning flashed toward the launch complex. In the command module Yankee Clipper , mission commander Pete Conrad heard the master alarm. He looked at the caution and warning panel, and "it was a sight to behold." Sixteen seconds later another bolt discharged, and Conrad told Houston, "We just lost the platform [in the inertial guidance system], gang: I don't know what happened here; we had everything in the world drop out." The fuel cells had automatically disconnected and several panel gauges were temporarily disturbed, but otherwise everything seemed normal. After the crew reset the fuel cells, the flight continued while Mission Control tried to figure out what had happened and what the consequences might be. The best guess seemed to be that the launch vehicle, trailing its plume of ionized (and electrically conductive) exhaust gas, had triggered a lightning discharge that otherwise would not have occurred. Except for nine telemetry sensors not essential to the flight, all systems were normal.

Apollo 12 flew smoothly into a normal earth orbit, and after the inertial guidance system was realigned and all systems checked out, Houston gave the signal to fire the S-IVB stage for translunar insertion. Three and a half hours into the flight, command pilot Richard F. Gordon turned command module Yankee Clipper around, extracted the lunar module Intrepidfrom its stowage site atop the third stage, and Apollo 12 continued on its way to the moon.

The only midcourse correction maneuver of the outbound flight was performed the next day, a 9.2-second burn that put the spacecraft on a fuel - saving hybrid trajectory. For the rest of the uneventful three-and-a-half-day trip to lunar orbit, the crew spent their time housekeeping, tending to spacecraft systems, and observing the earth and the moon.

Arriving at the moon 83 1/2 hours after liftoff, Conrad fired the main propulsion engine for almost 6 minutes to go into an elliptical lunar orbit. Five hours later a second burn put the spacecraft into a circular orbit at 60 nautical miles (111 kilometers) altitude, where Yankee Clipper would stay until it was time to return to earth. The spacecraft passed over and photographed Apollo 13's landing area in the Fra Mauro formation, and on the tenth revolution Conrad notified Capcom Gerald Carr that "you can tell good Captain Shaky [Jim Lovell, commander of Apollo 13] that he can relax. We've got his pictures."

Six hours into the fourth day, Conrad and Bean prepared to enter and activate the lunar module. Both were having trouble with their biomedical sensors; Conrad's were blistering his skin and Bean's were producing erratic signals. Both men cleaned and reattached their electrodes, then finished donning their space suits and began preparing Intrepidfor departure.

For the next several hours Conrad and Bean in Intrepid and Gordon in Yankee Clipper were busy setting up their guidance and navigation computers and exchanging data with the ground. When all was ready, Gordon turned the spacecraft so that the long axis of the command and service module was perpendicular to the flight path with the lunar module outward from the moon, retracted the docking latches, and fired his attitude-control thrusters to move Yankee Clipper away from Intrepid. The landing craft was 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of its intended ground track - largely as a result of an error in the landing site location and the inability to adequately correct for the moon's irregular gravity field. This and other errors would be removed by the instructions transmitted to the guidance computer after the lunar module headed down for its landing.

On the back side of the moon in the 13th revolution, the computer triggered a 29-second firing of the descent engine, bringing the low point of Intrepid's orbit to 8.1 nautical miles (15 kilometers). As the lander passed north of Mare Nectaris, Conrad turned it on its back with the descent engine pointed along the flight path and switched the engine on to begin the final approach. Everything went exactly as expected, and after two minutes Conrad commented that it "feels good to be standing up in a g-field again." Three minutes later the module's attitude-control thrusters began firing busily - more than Conrad thought they should - but Houston assured him that all was well.

After seven minutes Intrepidnosed over into a near-upright position and for the first time Conrad could see the lunar surface. The principal landmark identifying his landing point was a pattern of craters the astronauts called "Snowman"; Surveyor III lay halfway up the eastern wall of the crater that was the Snowman's torso, and Intrepid was targeted for the center of the crater. As soon as he could see out the window, Conrad cried delightedly, "Hey, there it is [Snowman]! There it is! Son of a gun! Right down the middle of the road!" Then, as Bean called out altitude, velocity, and quantity of fuel remaining; Conrad maneuvered the craft with his hand controller to pick a smooth spot to land on. The engine exhaust began kicking up dust about a hundred feet (30 meters) above the surface and by the time Intrepid reached 50 feet ( 15 meters) the cloud obscured the surface completely. At 1:54:36 a.m. EST on November 20, Pete Conrad made a blind landing - exactly where, he could not tell, but certainly close to the intended spot.

Conrad was naturally anxious to determine where he had set Intrepid down, and while he and Bean went through the post-landing check list they occasionally looked out the windows for landmarks that would allow Houston to pinpoint their location, but without success. After changing his mind a time or two, Conrad finally concluded, "I'm not sure that I'm not sitting fight smack on the other side of the Surveyor crater, just a little bit past it." Two hours later, Dick Gordon in Yankee Clipper confirmed Conrad's guess when he sighted both Intrepidand Surveyor III through his sextant as he passed over the site. He told Houston that the lunar module was "on the left shoulder of the Snowman... , about a third of the way from the Surveyor crater to the head. Postmission calculations placed Intrepidon the northwest rim of the Surveyor crater, 535 feet (163 meters) from the inert spacecraft. Had there been windows in the back of the lunar module, Conrad could have spotted the Surveyor as soon as the dust settled.

After postlanding checks of systems, Conrad and Bean described what they could see from their spacecraft. Intrepidhad landed in undulating terrain pocked with craters ranging from a few feet to several hundred feet across, the larger ones rimmed by large blocks of rock. Numerous boulders, up to 20 feet (6 meters) in size, were scattered around the site, most of them angular rather than rounded, many showing fillets of dust around the base. Immediately in front of the landing craft Bean saw an area of "patterned ground" - parallel cracks in the surface soil perhaps an eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) deep. From the lunar module the crew could distinguish no color differences in the rocks or soil; everything seemed the same bright white. Five and a half hours after landing, Conrad squeezed out the hatch, then clambered down the ladder to the bottom rung. As he stepped off onto the landing pad Conrad remarked, "Man, that [step] may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me." Looking around, he spotted the Surveyor halfway up the opposite wall of the crater. One of the first things Conrad noticed was that he was going to get extremely dirty: the surface dust was finer and deeper than he had expected.

After Conrad had collected the contingency sample Bean joined him on the surface, bringing the television camera with him. A few minutes later Houston reported that the camera was not working. Cursory attempts at trouble-shooting were fruitless, and television coverage for the mission - desirable but not essential - had to be written off. The explorers pressed on with their other chores, apparently enjoying themselves immensely; Conrad chuckled and hummed to himself as he went about examining the lunar module, collecting and photographing samples, and describing the landscape.

The primary objective of their first excursion was to deploy the scientific experiments. Conrad and Bean unloaded the package easily, picked a spot 130 meters (425 feet) northwest of the lander, and laid out the instruments without any serious difficulty. On their way back to Intrepidthey picked up more documented samples and Bean took a soil sample with the core tube. After nearly four hours on the surface, the astronauts returned to the lunar module, dusted each other off as best they could without brush or vacuum cleaner, and climbed back inside. After a brief evaluation of the day's work and some discussion of the next day's plans, Houston signed off and the two astronauts strung up their hammocks and turned in.

Overnight the geologists in Houston, working from several scenarios prepared before the mission, formulated detailed plans for the geology exercise the astronauts would carry out on their second outing. Next morning, when Bean and Conrad were awake and ready to talk, CapCom Paul Weitz read through the plans with them, discussing the scientists' recommendations for sampling and photography, while the astronauts offered comments based on the previous day's experience. Then they domed and checked over their space suits, recharged with oxygen their portable life-support systems, vented the cabin, and set out to collect samples.

During the next four hours Bean and Conrad covered something more than one kilometer (3,300 feet), following a large-scale photographic map prepared for the traverse and chatting constantly with each other and with Houston. Scientists in Houston followed their progress from their references to the maps they carried. The extensive conversation was intended to substitute for a geologist's field notes. On the nearly featureless lunar surface, sampling proved somewhat difficult; except for size, most of the rocks showed few distinguishing features. Colors and textures were not always easy to determine, and when they were, the astronauts tended to use nonscientific terms in describing them - probably a symptom of their sensitivity to possible misuse of geological terminology. At one point Conrad noted a rock containing a "ginger-ale-bottle green" crystal (which was probably olivine), and a few minutes later Bean spotted a rock he said "looks almost like a granite," but immediately added, "of course it probably isn't, but it has the same sort of texture." Bean and Conrad documented their samples carefully, photographing many of them and describing the location and bag number for later reference. At "Head" crater, following instructions from Houston, Conrad dislodged a medium-sized rock and allowed it to roll down the slope to determine whether the seismometer some 70 meters (230 feet) away could detect it (it did). Then it was on to "Bench" and "Sharp" craters, where they sampled several large rocks on the surface that might be bedrock thrown out when the craters were formed.

Two hours into the traverse the astronauts were on the edge of the Surveyor crater. The slope of the crater wall was much less than it had appeared the day before, when the low sun cast long, deceptive shadows. Pausing to reload a camera and survey the situation, they decided it would be easier to walk across the slope of the crater wall rather than come down from the rim. Approaching from the side, they could take photographs of the landing-pad imprints and the trenches dug by Surveyor's remotely controlled arm without disturbing the surface. These would be compared with television pictures transmitted from the spacecraft immediately after its landing.

Examination of the Surveyor, the only human artifact ever encountered in lunar exploration, was among the more interesting parts of the mission for Conrad and Bean. What they noticed first was that much of its originally white surface had turned brown - a change they attributed to a deposit of dust when they found it could be wiped off. After photographing the surrounding surface and examining the spacecraft, they removed the Surveyor's television camera and cut off pieces of electrical cable and structural tubing for study by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They decided to remove the trenching scoop as well; then, after collecting soil samples, they headed for another small crater to take a few more samples on their way back to the lunar module.

Back in their spacecraft, Conrad and Bean had almost six hours before lifting off to rendezvous with Yankee Clipper. After throwing out their portable life-support systems they straightened up the cabin, stowing the rock boxes and improvising stowage for the television camera, which Houston wanted to examine. They had carried in considerably more lunar dust than Armstrong and Aldrin had reported; Conrad told Houston they looked like "a couple of bituminous coal miners right at the moment, but we're happy."

Despite the fact that they had trebled the existing record for lunar surface activity, Bean and Conrad were not exhausted and had expended about 10 percent less energy than anticipated. Both returned to the lunar module with almost 40 percent of their oxygen supply remaining on both excursions. Bean suggested to the medical officers that he would have enjoyed an occasional drink of water while working on the surface; not that he felt dehydrated, but he would have been more comfortable if he had been able to relieve the dryness in his mouth.

Intrepid's ascent stage lifted off the moon on time, and an hour and a half later Conrad had Yankee Clipper in sight. Back in lunar orbit the dust the lunar explorers had brought in with them began to float, thick enough to be visible in the cabin. After the two spacecraft had docked they attempted to vacuum up the dust, with little success, so they removed and packaged their suits in the lunar module, hoping to minimize contamination of the command module. In spite of their efforts, considerable dust clung to everything they brought back and remained suspended in the atmosphere; the environmental control system seemed not to filter it out as completely as had been expected.

Intrepid , now a useless hulk, still had one more contribution to make to the scientific objectives of the mission. For the benefit of seismologists wanting to calibrate the instrument that Bean and Conrad had just left on the moon, Mission Control now burned the empty spacecraft's remaining fuel to take it out of orbit. At a speed of 1.67 kilometers per second (3,735 miles per hour) the ascent stage plowed into the moon 76 kilometers (47 miles) east-southeast of the instrument package, producing a bizarre response: the seismometer recorded vibrations that persisted almost undiminished for nearly an hour. It was so completely unlike anything ever seen on earth that seismologists had no immediate explanation. One scientist compared the result to striking a church bell and hearing the reverberations for 30 minutes.

Yankee Clipper stayed in lunar orbit for 11 more revolutions, finishing up the "bootstrap" photography and landmark tracking, looking at sites being considered for Apollo 14 and 15. Then the crew boosted their spacecraft out of lunar orbit and settled in for the three-day voyage home. Now and then they chatted with the duty CapCom about something that crossed their minds concerning their exploration. Once in a while scientists wanted to debrief them concerning details of their lunar surface activity. For most of the time, however, they relaxed.

At one point both Conrad and Bean passed along some reservations they had about the field geology exercise. They had found the lunar surface a particularly difficult one for classical field-geological techniques. Bean commented,

... we talked with [the geologists], before we went, about [the fact that] the main objectives of the geology wasn't to go out and grab a few rocks and take some pictures, but to try to understand the morphology and the stratigraphy... of the vicinity you were in. Look around and try to use your head along those lines. Well, I'll tell you, there [were] less than ten times I stood in spots... and said, "Okay now, Bean,... is it possible to look out there and try to determine... which is first, which is second, and all that?"... That whole area has been acted on by these meteoroids or something else so that all these features that are normally neat clues to you on earth are not available for observation.

Conrad concurred: "I think even a trained geologist would have trouble doing a whole lot of field geology that way on the moon." Long afterward, Bean still felt that astronauts could be most effective on the lunar surface by selecting and documenting as many apparently different kinds of samples as possible rather than attempting on-the-spot geologizing. During a press conference on the last day out, Conrad was asked whether he thought it would be desirable to have a geologist as a member of the crew. He did indeed think so, but pointed out that landing Intrepidhad required all the piloting skill he had - implicitly echoing Deke Slayton's contention that landing on the moon was not yet a job for a novice.

Early on the morning of November 24 Apollo 12 splashed down some 600 kilometers (375 miles) east of Pago Pago, 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) from the recovery ship U.S.S. Hornet. The landing was rough - apparently Yankee Clipper hit a rising wave as it swung on its parachutes - hard enough to dislodge a 16-mm movie camera from its bracket and slant it into Alan Bean's forehead, momentarily stunning him and opening a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) cut, which Conrad bandaged.

The recovery swimmers soon arrived, tossed respirators and coveralls - replacing the biological isolation garments that the Apollo 11 crew had found so objectionable - into the command module, then assisted the astronauts into the raft. Half an how later recovery helicopters set the crew down aboard the Hornet and they went straight to their mobile quarantine facility. Lunar sample containers and film magazines were removed and flown to Pago Pago and thence to Houston. The astronauts had a longer journey: four days aboard ship to Hawaii, then a nine-hour flight to Houston. On the morning of November 29, Conrad, Bean, and Gordon entered the Lunar Receiving Laboratory for their 11-day stay in quarantine.

That Apollo 12 was a success was apparent even on preliminary evaluation. The procedural changes incorporated to improve landing accuracy had allowed Conrad to put Intrepid down within sight of Surveyor III , exactly as intended. Lunar exploration had been easy; neither Bean nor Conrad encountered any unexpected difficulties and both had oxygen to spare when they returned. And while they had found it hard to apply their field - geology training on the unrevealing surface of Oceanus Procellarum, they had collected nearly 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of samples, most of them documented. The surface experiments they had set up were returning streams of data, and scientists agreed the astronauts had done a remarkable job. Communication between scientists in Houston and the astronauts on the moon had been well handled by Mission Control. If Apollo 12 was a reliable indicator, the scientific return from the remaining eight missions should be gratifying.

AKA: Yankee Clipper/Intrepid.
Location: Virginia Air and Space Center (NASA Langley Visitor's Center), Hampton, VA.
First Launch: 1969.11.14.
Last Launch: 1969.11.24.
Duration: 10.19 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Gordon Gordon, Richard Francis Jr 'Dick' (1929-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 11, Apollo 12. More...
  • Irwin Irwin, James Benson 'Jim' (1930-1991) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Apollo 15. Eighth person to walk on the moon. More...
  • Conrad Conrad, Charles Peter Jr 'Pete' (1930-1999) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12, Skylab 2. Third person on the moon. Only astronaut to fly Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab. Commander of first successful space station mission. More...
  • Worden Worden, Alfred Merrill (1932-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Apollo 15. More...
  • Bean Bean, Alan LaVerne 'Al' (1932-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Apollo 12, Skylab 3. Fourth person to walk on the moon. More...
  • Scott Scott, David Randolph 'Dave' (1932-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 15. Seventh person to walk on the moon. First to drive a lunar wheeled vehicle. Member of first crew to dock in space. More...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Apollo CSM American manned lunar orbiter. 22 launches, 1964.05.28 (Saturn 6) to 1975.07.15 (Apollo (ASTP)). The Apollo Command Service Module was the spacecraft developed by NASA in the 1960's as a standard spacecraft for earth and lunar orbit missions. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA Houston American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Houston, Houston, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Apollo The successful US project to land a man on the moon. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...

Apollo 12 Chronology


1967 July 12 - .
  • Apollo CSM shipment schedule issued by NASA HQ - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. A CSM shipment schedule, to be used for planning throughout the Apollo program and as a basis for contract negotiations with North American Aviation, was issued by NASA Hq. The schedule covered CSM 101 through CSM 115, CSM 105R, and CSM 020 and the period September 29, 1967, through November 17, 1969.

1967 September 20 - . LV Family: Saturn I; Saturn V.
  • Proposed sequence of Apollo missions leading to a lunar landing mission - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 204; Apollo 11; Apollo 12; Apollo 15. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. MSC proposed to the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight a sequence of missions leading to a lunar landing mission. The sequence included the following basic missions:

    • A - Saturn V/unmanned CSM development
    • B - Saturn IB/unmanned LM development
    • C - Saturn IB/manned CSM evaluation
    • D - Saturn V/manned CSM and LM development (A dual Saturn IB mission would be an alternative to the Saturn V for mission D)
    • E - CSM/LM operations in high earth orbit
    • F - Lunar orbit mission
    • G - Lunar landing mission (like Apollo 11)
    • H - Lunar landing mission (Apollo 12, 13, and 14)
    • I - Reserved for lunar survey missions (not used)
    • J - Lunar landing missions, upgraded hardware (Apollo 15, 16, and 17)

1969 February 3 - .
  • 12-month plan for Apollo missions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 10; Apollo 11; Apollo 12; Apollo 13; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Recovery. NASA Hq. released a 12-month forecast of manned space flight missions, reflecting an assessment of launch schedules for planning purposes. Five flights were scheduled for the remainder of 1969:

    • Apollo 9 - February 28, SA-504, CSM 104, LM-3; manned orbital; up to 10 days' duration; Atlantic recovery.
    • Apollo 10 - May 17, SA-505, CSM 106, LM-4; manned lunar mission, Pacific recovery.
    • Apollo 11 - SA-506, CSM 107, LM-5; manned lunar mission; up to 11 days' duration; Pacific recovery.
    • Apollo 12 - SA-507, CSM 108, LM-6; manned lunar mission; up to 11 days; Pacific recovery.
    • Apollo 13 - SA-508, CSM 109, LM-7; manned lunar mission; up to 11 days' duration; Pacific recovery.

1969 April 12 - .
  • Weight allowance for the Apollo scientific payload increased - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Weight. Summary: ASPO Manager George Low informed MSC Director of Science and Applications Wilmot N. Hess that he had signed paperwork increasing the weight allowance for the Apollo scientific payload from 136 to 156.4 kilograms. . Additional Details: here....

1969 April 18 - .
  • Changes in launch readiness dates for Apollo 12 and Apollo 13 missions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12; Apollo 13. Summary: ASPO announced changes in launch readiness dates for the Apollo 12 and Apollo 13 missions. Apollo 12 was moved up from September 18 to September 13, 1969; and Apollo 13 was moved up from December 1 to November 10..

1969 May 2 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Temporary fix for Apollo S-II-stage early center engine cutoff - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 10; Apollo 12. A temporary fix to provide for an S-II-stage early center engine cutoff was made for Apollo 10 and 11. Purpose was to eliminate oscillations of the center engine and sympathetic structures. Meanwhile, plans were being made to incorporate a permanent fix into Apollo 12 and subsequent vehicles to eliminate the oscillations.

1969 May 9 - .
  • Science sequence recommended for the Apollo 12 mission - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo ALSEP. NASA Hq. informed MSC that, for planning purposes and Change Control Board action, the following science sequence was being recommended for the Apollo 12 mission:

    1. contingency sample;
    2. ALSEP deployment; and
    3. field geology investigations.
    The message said, "It is important that ALSEP be deployed in the first EVA (extravehicular activity). Then the entire second EVA could be devoted to Field Geology Investigations."

1969 May 12 - .
  • Prelaunch cooling system required for Apollo ALSEP radioisotopic thermoelectric generator (RTG) - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo ALSEP. Summary: Because the first flight of the ALSEP was scheduled on Apollo 12, NASA Hq. asked MSFC to provide for installation at KSC of the prelaunch cooling system for the ALSEP radioisotopic thermoelectric generator (RTG) on instrument units 507 through 510..

1969 May 19 - .
  • Postlanding ventilation filter eliminated for Apollo 12 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 11; Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Recovery. In a telephone conference, MSC personnel and members of the Interagency Committee on Back Contamination agreed to eliminate the requirement for a postlanding ventilation filter for Apollo 12, approve a plan for sterilization of the CM in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL), release the spacecraft at the same time as the crew release, and approve the LRL Bioprotocol Summary. The ICBC planned to meet on June 5 to complete planning and documentation for Apollo 11.

1969 June 3 - .
  • Proposed landing sites for Apollo 12 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 11; Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Summary: In a report to the ASPO Manager, the Chief of MSC's Systems Engineering Division described Apollo Site Selection Board (ASSB) action on proposed landing sites for the Apollo 12 mission. . Additional Details: here....

1969 June 7 - .
  • Use of Velcro in Apollo CSM discussed - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. ASPO Manager George Low suggested to MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton that beginning with Apollo 12 Velcro applications should be "in a spacecraft configuration and not vice versa." In the past, Velcro applications had presumably been made in the spacecraft to conform to the configurations used in training.

1969 June 9-13 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Studies of impact of empty Apollo stages on the lunar surface - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 11; Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Studies were being conducted to determine the feasibility of intentionally impacting an S-IVB stage and an empty LM stage on the lunar surface after jettison, to gather geological data and enhance the scientific return of the seismology experiment. Data would be obtained with the ALSEP seismographic equipment placed on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 or Apollo 12 flight. MSFC and Bellcomm were examining the possibility of the S-IVB jettison; MSC, the LM ascent stage jettison. Intentional impacting of the ascent stage for Apollo 11 was later determined not to be desirable.

1969 July 29 - .
  • Tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12; Apollo 13; Apollo 14; Apollo 15; Apollo 16; Apollo 17; Apollo 18; Apollo 19; Apollo 20. Spacecraft: Surveyor; Apollo Lunar Landing. NASA issued a tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program:

    FlightLaunch PlansTentative Landing Area
    Apollo 12November 1969Oceanus Procellarum lunar lowlands
    Apollo 13March 1970Fra Mauro highlands
    Apollo 14July 1970Crater Censorinus highlands
    Apollo 15November 1970Littrow volcanic area
    Apollo 16April 1971Crater Tycho (Surveyor VII impact area)
    Apollo 17September 1971Marius Hills volcanic domes
    Apollo 18February 1972Schroter's Valley, riverlike channel-ways
    Apollo 19July 1972Hyginus Rille region-Linear Rille, crater area
    Apollo 20December 1972Crater Copernicus, large crater impact area

1969 August 10 - .
1969 August 12 - .
  • Apollo LM-6 (Apollo 12) guidance computer removed and replaced - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Guidance. Summary: During lunar module checkout activities at KSC, the LM-6 (for Apollo 12) guidance computer was removed and replaced because of an unexpected restart during panel revalidation..

1969 September 8 - .
  • Recommendations for processing samples to be brought from the moon by the Apollo 12 mission - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 11; Apollo 12. Summary: After the preliminary examination of Apollo 11 lunar samples, the Department of the Interior made a number of recommendations for processing samples to be brought from the moon by the Apollo 12 mission..

1969 October 12 - .
  • Decision that Apollo 12 mission would examine Surveyor III and recover its TV camera - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Summary: A portion of the Apollo 12 mission would be devoted to an examination of Surveyor III and recovery of its TV camera and thermal-switch glass mirror fragments, MSC announced.. Additional Details: here....

1969 October 21 - .
  • Apollo 12 film to be delivered for decontamination within 24 to 36 hours after recovery - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Summary: Apollo 12 film from the onboard cameras would be delivered in two batches to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory for decontamination within 24 to 36 hours after recovery, MSC reported. . Additional Details: here....

1969 October 27 - .
  • Apollo 12 to set space records - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Summary: MSC Flight Operations informed the Apollo 12 commander that records could be set in a number of areas on the Apollo 12 mission. . Additional Details: here....

1969 October 30 - .
  • The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination made the following decisions regarding Apollo 12 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination made the following decisions regarding Apollo 12. The biological isolation garment would not be used. A biological mask and flight suit would be used instead. Sterilization of flight film was eliminated. Data tapes would be sterilized if required before the release of samples. The command module would not be decontaminated unless access for postflight testing was required before the sample release date of January 7, 1970.

1969 November 4-7 - .
  • Preparations for a November 14 launch of Apollo 12 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Crew Station. Summary: Preparations for a November 14 launch of Apollo 12 continued on schedule. . Additional Details: here....

1969 November 10 - .
  • Apollo 12 targetting point for Surveyor 3 changed - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Surveyor; LM Guidance. At the request of the Apollo 12 crew, the internal primary guidance and navigational control system targeting for descent was being changed so that the automatic guidance would land LM-6 at Surveyor III rather than at a point offset 305 meters east and 153 meters north as originally planned.

1969 November 14 - . 16:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V. LV Configuration: Saturn V SA-507.
  • Apollo 12 - . Call Sign: Yankee Clipper. Crew: Bean; Conrad; Gordon. Backup Crew: Irwin; Scott; Worden. Payload: Apollo CSM 108 / Apollo LM 6 / ALSEP / S-IVB-507. Mass: 28,790 kg (63,470 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bean; Conrad; Gordon; Irwin; Scott; Worden. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 10.19 days. Decay Date: 1969-11-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 4225 . COSPAR: 1969-099A. Apogee: 186 km (115 mi). Perigee: 181 km (112 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.19 min. Apollo 12 (AS-507)-with astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard F. Gordon, Jr., and Alan L. Bean as the crewmen-was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 11:22 a.m. EST November 14. Lightning struck the space vehicle twice, at 36.5 seconds and 52 seconds into the mission. The first strike was visible to spectators at the launch site. No damage was done. Except for special attention given to verifying all spacecraft systems because of the lightning strikes, the activities during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, and translunar coast were similar to those of Apollo 10 and Apollo 11.

    During the translunar coast astronauts Conrad and Bean transferred to the LM one-half hour earlier than planned in order to obtain full TV coverage through the Goldstone tracking station. The 56-minute TV transmission showed excellent color pictures of the CSM, the intravehicular transfer, the LM interior, the earth, and the moon.

    At 10:47 p.m. EST, November 17, the spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of 312.6 x 115.9 kilometers. A second service propulsion system burn circularized the orbit with a 122.5-kilometer apolune and a 100.6-kilometer perilune. Conrad and Bean again transferred to the LM, where they perfomed housekeeping chores, a voice and telemetry test, and an oxygen purge system check. They then returned to the CM.

    Conrad and Bean reentered the LM, checked out all systems, and at 10:17 p.m. EST on November 18 fired the reaction control system thrusters to separate the CSM 108 (the Yankee Clipper) from the LM-6 (the Intrepid). At 1:55 a.m. EST November 19, the Intrepid landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms, about 163 meters from the Surveyor III spacecraft that had landed April 19, 1967. Conrad, shorter than Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, July 20), had a little difficulty negotiating the last step from the LM ladder to the lunar surface. When he touched the surface at 6:44 a.m. EST November 19, he exclaimed, "Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neil, but that's a long one for me."

    Bean joined Conrad on the surface at 7:14 a.m. They collected a 1.9-kilogram contingency sample of lunar material and later a 14.8-kilogram selected sample. They also deployed an S-band antenna, solar wind composition experiment, and the American flag. An Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package with a SNAP-27 atomic generator was deployed about 182 meters from the LM. After 3 hours 56 minutes on the lunar surface, the two astronauts entered the Intrepid to rest and check plans for the next EVA.

    The astronauts again left the LM at 10:55 p.m. EST November 19. During the second EVA, Conrad and Bean retrieved the lunar module TV camera for return to earth for a failure analysis, obtained photographic panoramas, core and trench samples, a lunar environment sample, and assorted rock, dirt, bedrock, and molten samples. The crew then examined and retrieved parts of Surveyor III, including the TV camera and soil scoop. After 3 hours 49 minutes on the lunar surface during the second EVA, the two crewmen entered the LM at 2:44 a.m. EST November 20. Meanwhile astronaut Gordon, orbiting the moon in the Yankee Clipper, had completed a lunar multispectral photography experiment and photographed proposed future landing sites.

    At 9:26 a.m. EST November 20, after 31 hours 31 minutes on the moon, Intrepid successfully lifted off with 34.4 kilograms of lunar samples. Rendezvous maneuvers went as planned. The LM docked with the CSM at 12:58 p.m. November 20. The last 24 minutes of the rendezvous sequence was televised. After the crew transferred with the samples, equipment, and film to the Yankee Clipper, the Intrepid was jettisoned and intentionally crashed onto the lunar surface at 5:17 p.m. November 20, 72.2 kilometers southeast of Surveyor III. The crash produced reverberations that lasted about 30 minutes and were detected by the seismometer left on the moon.

    At 3:49 p.m. EST November 21, the crew fired the service propulsion system engine, injecting the CSM into a transearth trajectory after 89 hours 2 minutes in lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of the receding moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and a question and answer session with scientists and the press was conducted.

  • Apollo 12 LM - . Call Sign: Intrepid. Payload: Apollo LM 6. Mass: 15,223 kg (33,560 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Duration: 10.19 days. Decay Date: 1969-11-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 4225 . COSPAR: 1969-099x. Apogee: 186 km (115 mi). Perigee: 181 km (112 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.19 min.

1969 November 18 - . 03:47 GMT - .
  • Apollo 12 enters lunar orbit - . Nation: USA. Flight: Apollo 12. At 03:47 GMT November 18 Apollo 12 arrived at the moon 83 1/2 hours after liftoff. Conrad fired the main propulsion engine for almost 6 minutes to go into an elliptical lunar orbit. Five hours later a second burn put the spacecraft into a circular orbit at 60 nautical miles (111 kilometers) altitude, where Yankee Clipper would stay until it was time to return to earth. Additional Details: here....

1969 November 19 - . 06:55 GMT - .
  • Apollo 12 makes a precision landing on the lunar surface - . Nation: USA. Flight: Apollo 12. Conrad and Bean reentered the LM, checked out all systems, and at 10:17 p.m. EST on November 18 fired the reaction control system thrusters to separate the CSM 108 (the Yankee Clipper) from the LM-6 (the Intrepid). At 1:55 a.m. EST November 19, the Intrepid landed on the moon's Ocean of Storms, about 163 meters from the Surveyor III spacecraft that had landed April 19, 1967. Additional Details: here....

1969 November 19 - . 11:32 GMT - .
  • EVA Apollo 12-1 - . Crew: Conrad; Bean. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.16 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Bean. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Summary: Explored lunar surface near LM and deployed ALSEP unmanned scientific station equipment..

1969 November 20 - .
  • EVA Apollo 12-3 - . Crew: Conrad; Bean. EVA Type: Internal Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.0014 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Bean. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Summary: Threw excess equipment out of LM before lift-off..

1969 November 20 - . 03:54 GMT - .
  • EVA Apollo 12-2 - . Crew: Conrad; Bean. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.16 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Bean. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Summary: Moonwalk to Surveyor 3, which had landed two years before. Recovered parts of Surveyor 3 which seemed to show that Earth bacteria could survive for that period in space and be revived..

1969 November 21 - .
  • Apollo 12 heads for home - . Nation: USA. Flight: Apollo 12. At 3:49 p.m. EST November 21, the crew fired the service propulsion system engine, injecting the CSM into a transearth trajectory after 89 hours 2 minutes in lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of the receding moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and a question and answer session with scientists and the press was conducted. Additional Details: here....

1969 November 24 - .
  • Landing of Apollo 12 - . Return Crew: Bean; Conrad; Gordon. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bean; Conrad; Gordon. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Parachute deployment and other reentry events occurred as planned. The CM splashed down in mid-Pacific at 3:58 p.m. EST (20:58 GMT), 7.25 kilometers from the recovery ship, U.S.S. Hornet. The astronauts, wearing flight suits and biological face masks, were airlifted by helicopter from the CM to the recovery ship, where they entered the mobile quarantine facility. They would remain in this facility until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, MSC. The Apollo 12 mission objectives were achieved and the experiments successfully accomplished.

1969 November 24 - .
  • Return of Apollo 12 to earth. - . Nation: USA. Flight: Apollo 12. Apollo 12 parachute deployment and other reentry events occurred as planned. The CM splashed down in mid-Pacific at 20:58 GMT November 24, 7.25 kilometers from the recovery ship, U.S.S. Hornet. The astronauts, wearing flight suits and biological face masks, were airlifted by helicopter from the CM to the recovery ship, where they entered the mobile quarantine facility. They would remain in this facility until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, MSC. Additional Details: here....

1969 December 1 - .
  • Requirement for a simple lightweight Apollo lunar roving vehicle guidance and navigation system - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo LRV; LM Communications; LM Guidance; LM Weight. The MSC Flight Crew Operations Directorate submitted its requirement for a simple lightweight Rover (lunar roving vehicle) guidance and navigation system that would provide the following displayed information to the crew: vehicle heading and heading to the LM, speed in kilometers per hour, total distance traveled in kilometers, and distance to the LM. Additional Details: here....

1969 December 2 - .
  • Apollo 12 crew debriefing - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. The Apollo 12 crew program/project debriefing was held. Some areas of concern included the lunar dust which obscured visibility during the landing, a dust problem in the suit connectors after completion of the first extravehicular activity, and wear on the suits after completion of the second EVA.

1969 December 15 - .
  • Mobile equipment transporter for Apollo LM-8, LM-9, and LM-10 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12; Apollo 15. Spacecraft: Apollo MET. NASA was considering incorporation of a mobile equipment transporter on LM-8, LM-9, and LM-10, to help with problems such as the Apollo 12 astronauts had in carrying hand tools, sample boxes and bags, a stereo camera, and other equipment on the lunar surface. The MET also could extend lunar surface activities to a greater distance from the lunar module. A prototype MET and training hardware were being fabricated and were expected to be available in late December.

1969 December 22 - .
  • Apollo 12 indicated that lunar dust completely obscured landing point - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 11; Apollo 12. Correlation of the Apollo 12 descent film with the crew's comments during landing indicated that lunar dust first became apparent at about 30 meters from the surface and that from about 12 meters above to the actual touchdown the ground was almost completely obscured by the dust. Additional Details: here....

1970 January 14 - .
  • Scientific debriefing of the Apollo 12 astronauts - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12; Apollo 13. Summary: The scientific debriefing of the Apollo 12 astronauts indicated there were areas of strong interest for which there was no data and that the data could have been provided by an Apollo lunar surface closeup stereo camera. . Additional Details: here....

1970 February 5 - .
  • Investigation of the Apollo 12 flight anomalies - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Summary: North American Rockwell completed an investigation, requested by NASA, of the Apollo 12 flight anomalies associated with apparent vehicle electrostatic discharges at 36.5 and 52 seconds into the flight. . Additional Details: here....

1970 April 13 - .
  • Apollo 12 ALSEP continuing to transmit data - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 12. Spacecraft: Apollo ALSEP. Summary: MSC informed NASA Hq. that the Apollo 12 ALSEP left on the moon in November 1969 was continuing to transmit satisfactory data. . Additional Details: here....

1998 April 5 - .
  • From the Earth to the Moon is released. - . Nation: USA. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8; Apollo 9; Apollo 11; Apollo 12; Apollo 13; Apollo 14; Apollo 15; Apollo 17. Based on the success of the film Apollo 13, Tom Hanks was able to raise $ 68 million to film a television mini-series covering the entire Apollo program. The Apollo 13 episode marked the third fictionalised telling of the tale, this time concentrating on the media handling of the flight and the changing nature of television news. Additional Details: here....

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