Blue Dot 164: Apollo 12 At Fifty: A Pinpoint Landing On The Moon!

Nov 15, 2019

Alan Bean's painting The Fantasy of the entire crew of Apollo 12 if they could have been on the Moon together. Commander Pete Conrad (left), Lunar Module Pilot Al Bean on the right and a very surprised looking Command Module Pilot Dick Gordon (center). Gordon never got to walk on the Moon but that didn't keep his good buddy, artist Bean from creating an alternate reality years later in his Texas studio.
Credit Alan Bean Gallery

Blue Dot's "Apollo at 50" series continues with this look back at Apollo 12 which took place in November of 1969. Dave often says that "Apollo 12 was one of my favorite missions -- it paved the way for the scientific exploration of the Moon and had the crew that can definitely be called 'A band of brothers!'


While none of the Apollo 12 astronauts are with us on Earth, they are certainly with us in our collective memory and we take a look back at the epic mission to explore the Ocean of Storms 50 years ago with Lead Flight Director Gerry Griffin, Flight Controller John Aaron and astronaut Alan Bean's daughter Amy Bean.


A very real image of Pete Conrad, taken by Al Bean, standing next to the Surveyor 3 lander on November 19, 1969.Apollo 12 Lunar Module Intrepid made a pinpoint landing a few hundred feet from the unmanned spacecraft which landed on the Moon on April 20, 1967.
Credit NASA

Apollo 12 proved that pinpoint landings on the Moon were possible by landing next to the unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft, but it almost didn't turn out that way when the Saturn V launch vehicle was hit by lightning less than a minute after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center on November 14, 1969. Flight controller (EECOM) John Aaron shares the story of how he knew just what to do when the Command Module Yankee Clipper's electrical systems were thrown offline from the power surge, saving the mission with the now-famous call up "SCE to Aux." 

Flight Director Gerry Griffin puts the mission into perspective as the gateway to the scientific exploration of the Moon that followed with Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 after the near-disaster of Apollo 13. Astronaut Alan Bean's daughter Amy, who was just six at the time of the flight, tells us what it was like having a moonwalker and artist extraordinaire as her very normal Dad.