[LAUNCH CONTROL: 10, 9, 8....]
For commander Pete Conrad and the crew of Apollo 12, things started off well enough.
[LAUNCH CONTROL: Commit, Liftoff! We have liftoff, 11:22 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. CONRAD: That's a lovely liftoff -- that's not bad at all!]
But just seconds into the flight, things suddenly went haywire.
[CONRAD: Okay, we just lost the platform, gang. I don't know what happened here, we had everything in the world drop out. I'm not sure that we didn't get hit by lightning. MISSION CONTROL: We've had a couple of cardiac arrests down here, too, Pete. APOLLO 12: There wasn't any time for that up here.]
Lightning had indeed struck their Saturn 5 booster, knocking out many of the Apollo systems. But good backups, and quick thinking by the crew, kept the flight on track. And just five days later -- on November 19th, 1969 -- Conrad and crewmate Alan Bean were taking another electrifying ride. They were just seconds away from making the second landing on the Moon.
BEAN: Coming down at 2, Pete. You've got plenty of gas -- plenty of gas, dude. Hang in there. MISSION CONTROL: 30 seconds. BEAN: 18 feet, coming down at 2. He's got it made. Come on in there. 24 feet. Contact light! MISSION CONTROL: Roger, copy contact. BEAN: Good landing, Pete. Outstanding, man! Beautiful! Holy, crud, it's beautiful out here! CONRAD: It sure is -- it's something else!
Conrad and Bean touched down in the Moon's Ocean of Storms. We'll tell you what they did once they got there tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2009
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