I'm Shirley Griffith.
And I'm Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.
Today we tell about the flights that followed Apollo Eleven to the moon.
summer of nineteen sixty-nine was a special time in history. That was when men
from Earth -- American astronauts -- flew their Apollo Eleven spacecraft to the
moon, landed and returned home safely. The world honored the astronauts as
Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin were the first to land on the moon. But they were
not the last. NASA -- the National Aeronautics and Space Administration --
launched six more Apollo flights.
Twelve lifted off only four months after the Apollo Eleven flight. Rain had
fallen the night before. The clouds cleared, but more rain was expected. Space
officials decided the weather was safe enough for them to launch the
Thirty-six seconds after
lift-off, lightning hit the huge Saturn Five rocket. The Apollo spacecraft lost
electrical power to its control system. The astronauts worked calmly to get the
power back on. Then lightning struck again. And power was lost again.
The lightning, however,
did not affect the Saturn rocket. The rocket continued to push the spacecraft
on its path. The astronauts soon fixed the electrical problem. The situation
returned to normal. Apollo Twelve could continue its flight to the moon.
All three astronauts of
Apollo Twelve were Navy fliers. Charles Conrad was the flight commander.
Richard Gordon was pilot of the command module. Alan Bean was pilot of the moon
After four days, Apollo
Twelve was near its landing area on the moon. It would land in an area called
the Ocean of Storms. The Ocean of Storms was about two thousand kilometers west
of the place where Apollo Eleven had landed.
Gordon remained in the command module circling the moon. Charles Conrad and
Alan Bean flew the lander craft to the surface. They came down near Surveyor
Three, an unmanned spacecraft that had landed on the moon two years before.
Surveyor had sent back six thousand pictures of the moon before it stopped
stepped out of the lander onto the moon. He described the surface as he walked
away from the spacecraft. "Oh," he said, "is this soft! I don't
sink in it too far. "
Bean followed Charles Conrad to the surface. The two astronauts collected about
thirty-five kilograms of rocks. They left five scientific instruments designed
to send information back to Earth. And they visited the old Surveyor
two astronauts spent more than thirty-one hours on the moon. Then they returned
to the orbiting command module and started back to Earth. They landed in the
Pacific Ocean, only six kilometers from the ship that waited to rescue them.
The next flight in
America's Apollo space project -- Apollo Thirteen -- never landed on the moon.
Three days after launch, an explosion damaged the spacecraft. The astronauts
lost most of their oxygen. They had to cancel the moon landing and use the moon
lander as a lifeboat. Oxygen from the lander kept them alive during the long
trip back to Earth.
Fourteen was launched in January, nineteen seventy-one. It landed in the hilly
Fra Mauro area of the moon.
Mauro is a huge highlands east of Apollo Twelve's landing place. A large
meteorite hit the area four thousand million years ago. The force of the crash
spread material from deep inside the moon. Scientists wanted to study this
material. They believed it would give them important information about the
early history of the moon.
commander of the Apollo Fourteen flight was Alan Shepard. He had been the first
American in space. Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell were the other members of
the crew. One piece of equipment on Apollo Fourteen was a light-weight vehicle
with two wheels. The astronauts used it to carry tools and cameras while they
were on the moon. The vehicle made it possible for them to travel farther from
the spacecraft to collect rocks and do experiments. They walked as far as three
kilometers from the moon lander. Even with the two-wheeled vehicle, however,
Shepard and Mitchell could not reach one of their goals -- a crater called
Cone. They did not have enough oxygen to walk that far. They had to return to
Twelve and Apollo Fourteen produced much new scientific information. And they
increased the interest of scientists in the next Apollo flights to the moon.
The last three flights
would permit astronauts to stay much longer on the moon. They also would
provide a vehicle with four wheels in which astronauts could ride. With such a
vehicle, astronauts could explore a much larger area of the moon's surface. The
vehicle was called a lunar rover.
lunar rover was powered by electricity. It could carry two astronauts more than
thirty kilometers from the lander. It could carry more than one hundred ten
kilograms of equipment. The Lunar Rover also had a television camera and an
antenna for sending color television broadcasts back to Earth.
David Scott, Alfred Worden
and James Irwin were the crew for Apollo Fifteen. They were launched in July,
nineteen seventy-one. They landed at Hadley Rille near the Apennine Mountains,
northwest of the place where Apollo Eleven had landed.
Scott and Irwin were the
first to use the Lunar Rover vehicle. They made several trips from the landing
area to study the surface of the moon. They gathered seventy-six kilos of moon
rocks. And they placed a small satellite in lunar orbit before they returned to
The Apollo Fifteen
astronauts returned safely. Scientists were excited about the moon rocks the
astronauts brought back. They named one of them "the Genesis Rock."
It is believed to be more than four billion years old. Scientists say the rock
was created very early in the life of the moon.
brought back contained bits of orange glass. Scientists said the glass came
from material created as deep as three hundred kilometers below the moon's
Astronauts John Young,
Thomas Mattingly and Charles Duke flew Apollo Sixteen to the moon in April,
nineteen seventy-two. Young and Duke landed southwest of the Apollo Eleven
landing place. They spent forty-five hours on the moon. They collected rocks
and set up scientific equipment.
Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans made the last Apollo flight to
the moon. That was in December, nineteen seventy-two. Cernan and Schmitt landed
in a valley almost directly north of the Apollo Eleven landing place. They
spent seventy-five hours, in all, on the surface. More than twenty-two hours
were spent working outside the lander.
The astronauts made three
trips in the lunar rover to take pictures and collect rocks. The astronauts
also left many scientific devices that would continue to report information
about the moon.
Cernan and Schmitt lifted
off the moon on December fourteenth. Just before leaving, they placed a metal
sign on the surface. The sign was to remain forever.
said: "Here man completed his first exploration of the moon December 1972 [A.D.] May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in
the lives of all mankind."
of the Saturn Five rocket and the Apollo spacecraft ended with Apollo
Seventeen. America's manned explorations of the moon were completed.
It was the end of a
special time in human history. It had been the first time people moved beyond
their small planet into the huge solar system. Now, once again, the moon was
beyond human reach.
Our program was written by
Marilyn Rice Christiano. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.
I'm Shirley Griffith. You can find the complete
series on the American space program on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.