Our SpaceFlight Heritage: Pete’s ‘big step’
When it comes to space exploration, one tends to focus on the “firsts”. Sometimes, the fact that there were six landings on the surface of the Moon is often forgotten. The differences between each mission were profound. In terms of the Apollo 11 landing, which took place in July of 1969 and Apollo 12 (which occurred four months later), some of the perceived stiffness between the crew members was obviously not present. In many ways, Apollo 12 was perhaps the most “fun” landing. This was made evident by Conrad’s first words on the lunar surface.
Formally, the landing site was located at 3.01239° S latitude, 23.42157° W longitude, and it would be named Statio Cognitum (“Known Station”) after the landing. While both Apollo 12’s Commander, Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean were accomplished pilots, they, however, were also human – they referred to the landing site, more simply, as “Pete’s Parking Lot”.
In the end, Conrad and Bean proved that precision landings were possible. The duo’s LM, Intrepid, touched down 600 feet (183 meters) from Surveyor 3.
Whereas Neil Armstrong’s words upon becoming the first person to set foot on the Moon can be recited by most U.S. schoolchildren, few can cite what Conrad said when he became the third person to stir up the lunar regolith.
“Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me,” Conrad said as he bounded off the Lunar Module.
The landing, which occurred at 12:22 p.m. EST (16:22 GMT) on Nov. 19, 1969, followed Apollo 11’s highly-successful 2.5 hours on the lunar surface – with an EVA that stretched for an additional five hours and 15 minutes.
Video courtesy of Apollo Flight Journal
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.