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Blue Dot: Apollo 16 Part 2: Mission to the lunar highlands

Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke on the Moon, April 1972

Blue Dot's Apollo @50 series continues with part two of our look back at the flight of Apollo 16 in April of 1972. This ambitious mission to explore the Descartes highlands was the first time NASA sent astronauts into the central highlands of the Moon. At the time, geologists thought the area would show signs of volcanism, but the highly trained astronaut field geologists collected samples that it was formed primarily by the process of impact.

Host Dave Schlom joins Apollo-era flight director Gerry Griffin who recounts engine trouble on board the Command Service Module Casper that nearly canceled the lunar landing.

Charles Duke family portrait on the surface of the Moon.

Then, Earl Swift, author of Across The Airless Wilds: the Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings, discusses the remarkable vehicle that allowed astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke to explore their rugged landing site. Brigadier General Duke is one of the four living persons who have walked on the Moon. His son Tom shares insights into the mission and their relationship as Tom followed in his famous father's footsteps to become an aviator and now an airline pilot.

Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.