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Apollo 15

July 30, 2011

FALCON: 8 feet, minus one. Contact! Man! Okay, Houston, the Falcon is on the plain at Hadley.

Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin landed on the Moon 40 years ago today, in the middle of some of the most spectacular scenery on the lunar surface. They were ringed on three sides by the Apennine Mountains, some of the tallest mountains on the Moon.

ASTRONAUTS: Oh, look at the mountains today, Jim, when they're all sunlit. Isn't that beautiful? It really is. By golly, that's just super. It's, you know, unreal.

And on the open side, they faced a thousand-foot gorge called Hadley Rille.

The site was more than just a nice tourist spot, though. It allowed the astronauts to study a landscape that was quite different from those seen by earlier missions -- one molded by giant impacts and flows of molten rock.

To help them see as much as possible, Scott and Irwin drove the first moonbuggy, which carried them a few miles from their lunar lander, Falcon.

ASTRONAUTS: This is really a rockin'-rollin' ride, isn't it. I've never been on a ride like this before. Oh, boy. I'm glad they've got this great suspension system on this thing.

During three moonwalks, the astronauts gathered 170 pounds of rocks and soil, and snapped hundreds of pictures. They also left behind instruments to listen for moonquakes and conduct other experiments. And they conducted a simple experiment that confirmed one carried out here on Earth centuries earlier. More about that tomorrow.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2011


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