And the rest...

By Toby Neal | Features | Published:

APOLLO 12: November 1969. Hit by lightning shortly after launch, so many warning lights came on that the crew could not read them all. Landed within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe which had landed on the lunar surface in April 1967. Pete Conrad's first words on the moon were designed to win a bet with somebody who had claimed the astronauts' words were scripted – "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but it's a long one to me." There were no television pictures of Apollo 12 on the moon after the television camera caught the sun's glare and was ruined.

APOLLO 13: "Houston, we've had a problem." Some of the most famous – and most misquoted – words of the whole space program. An explosion in the service module on April 13, 1970, crippled the spacecraft 200,000 miles from Earth. With the astronauts in deadly peril, the world held its breath. They used the lunar lander as a lifeboat and were successfully brought back to Earth.

APOLLO 14: Launched January 31, 1971. Al Shepard, America's first man in space, returned. During the journey Ed Mitchell conducted unauthorised ESP experiments involving four accomplices on Earth. The success rate was less than 10 per cent. The crew collected 94lbs of moon rock.

APOLLO 15: The first truly scientific lunar mission. Enter the Lunar Rover, an electric car which allowed the astronauts to drive nearly 18 miles among the lunar mountains and greatly extend the area of geological exploration. One rock brought back is dubbed the Genesis Rock, a piece of the primordial crust estimated at four billion years old.

APOLLO 16: The lunar highlands were the landing place in a mission which brought surprises. Geological theories based on pre-mission photographs were proved wrong, while many theories concerning lunar geologic structure and processes were improved greatly.

APOLLO 17: December 1972. The last of all, but the first time a professional scientist – Jack Schmitt – walked on the moon. One of the highlights was the discovery of orange soil. The final words spoken on the moon, by mission commander Gene Cernan, were: "As we leave the moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed, the crew of Apollo 17."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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