back to article 50 years on: Apollo 12 failed at selfies but succeeded at dismantling a probe

Welcome to the second part of our Apollo 12 retrospective, where we look at the breaking of cameras and the (almost) breaking of the lunar module pilot. You can read about the eventful launch in Part 1, here. After Apollo 11 missed its intended landing spot by quite some distance, one of Apollo 12's stated goals was to plonk …

  1. Thoguht Silver badge

    Bean there, done that

    I still remember it to this day. Because of the historic nature of the occasion, we were going to get time off classes to go into the school hall and watch the live transmission from the moon on what passed for a large-screen television. But then Bean pointed the camera at the lunar monolith sun, and we all had to go back to lessons. How we hated that man!

    1. Spiracle

      Re: Bean there, done that

      A reminder of how long we had to wait for decent moving images from the moon - 11 was brief, murky and black and white, 12 fried the camera, 13 didn't land at all.

      We had to wait until Apollo 14 in February 1971, pretty much a year and a half after Armstrong and Aldrin, before there were watchable live pictures in colour, and even then it was mostly static in front of the LM. It really wasn't until the rovercam on the last three missions, two years after the first landing, that coverage moved away from what were effectively radio broadcasts.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Bean there, done that

        Link bandwidth and vidicon tube camera technology.

        The downlink was low powered and thus bandwidth was at a premium. Coding to correct errors took up more bits. The details of the link coding and bandwidth allocation are an interesting read (for a very small audience, I suspect). Remember: no sophisticated FPGAs or processor chips. Those were far away in the future. Slide rules instead of calculators.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: Bean there, done that

          Links to descriptions of the Unified S-band comm link.

          I was wrong.

          It was all analog.

          // Peterson and Weldon in the pocket

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Bean there, done that

      The transcript of "how going to the Moon and don't get back a color movie"....

  2. 0laf Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice article

    I picked up "A Man on the Moon" as an audiobook recently. For those who don't have the time to sit and read a paperback but do commute I can recommend it.

    There are thousands of little interesting snippits of this facinating era of history. The astronaughts were a unique and diverse group of individuals of huge talent and drive. It's a real shame that people like them aren't held up as examples now instead of the vacuous 'influencers' we have.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Nice article

      Maybe I'd be able to spell "astronaut" properly as well.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Nice article

        Spelling's not exactly rocket science

      2. Scott 53

        Re: Nice article

        Maybe I'd be able to spell "astronaut" properly as well.

        That's audiobooks for you.

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great piece

    I'm going all misty-eyed with all these memories flooding back. I didn't miss the colour footage promised with Apollo 12, as all we had was a B&W TV anyway. I did watch the later missions with the Lunar Rover on our neighbours' colour TV and was stunned by the footage. My eldest son is a complete petrol head, and looks with disdain at electric cars (not noisy enough to his liking, I suppose), but I told him the coolest car EVER was electric. He asked me which car I meant, and I said "the Lunar Rover", and showed him some footage. He (grudgingly) had to agree. Kids these days

  4. TheProf
    Thumb Up

    From The Earth To Moon

    Watched the series to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Much to recommend it, especially the portrayal of Al Bean by comic Dave Foley.

  5. red floyd
    Thumb Up

    Best. Crew. Ever.

    Pete's motto was "If you can't be good, be colorful". The 12 crew managed to do both, and have fun at the same time.

    Pete's "Whoopee" statement was partly to win a bet with Oriana Fallaci, because she believed that the first words on the moon were scripted and approved. She allegedly never paid the $500.

    The crew were good friends, to the point that the three of them got identically colored Corvettes, and would often race them around Houston. They remained close friends until their passing.

    It is actually true that Gordon made Conrad and Bean strip starkers before he would let them come back into the command module!

    Just an awesome crew.

  6. spold Silver badge

    >dismantling a probe

    I thought the plan (in pre-solar li-ion charging) was to stick some more HP2 batteries in it...?

    Guess they misplaced those as well (visions of Clangers waltzing off to stick them in their cassette players).

    Oh well just hit it with a hammer and bring the bits home.

    (ref hammer and feather experiment - do you think that is what it was really for?)


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