November 14, 1969 – Apollo 12 lifts off for the moon

Alan Bean descends from the LM. (NASA)Apollo 12 was NASA’s sixth manned mission in the Apollo Program and the second lunar landing mission, launching on November 14, 1969. The crew was apprised of Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon, and Alan Bean. Apollo 12 got off to an inauspicious start at launch, having been hit by lightning twice before reaching orbit.

The primary objectives of Apollo 12 were (according to official Dick Gordon web site):

  1. To prove a pinpoint landing was possible, (Apollo 11 had landed 4 miles from their intended target, and geologists needed a pinpoint landing for detailed studies of specific areas)
  2. To set up an autonomous scientific station called “The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package” (ALSEP). This consisted of a seismometer to measure moonquakes, a magnetometer to look for a lunar magnetic field, a sensor to sniff out the moon’s tenuous atmosphere and another sensor to search for ions and analyze high-energy subatomic particles
  3. To visit the Surveyor III spacecraft and return pieces of the probe for study.

Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me. — Pete Conrad

Wikipedia says:

“Apollo 12 launched on schedule, during a rainstorm. Shortly after lift-off from Kennedy Space Center, the Saturn V rocket body was hit by a bolt of upper-atmosphere lightning. The CM’s instruments momentarily went off-line and Mission Control lost the telemetry feeds from the spacecraft for several seconds. When ground control regained telemetry lock with the spacecraft, the feeds were garbled and reported incomplete and possibly inaccurate information. EECOM John Aaron thought that the garbled telemetry might be caused by a malfunction in the launch vehicle’s Signal Conditioning Equipment (SCE), since the SCE converted raw instrument data into forms usable by spacecraft instrument displays and ground telemetry equipment, and it would have automatically gone off-line in response to the kind of disruption to the spacecraft’s electrical systems that a lightning strike would cause.”

Apollo 12 crew.jpg

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~ by tellinghistory on November 14, 2007.

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