Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke took their first moonwalk on Friday (21 April), after a night that nearly saw the cancellation of the lunar landing.
Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke took their first moonwalk on Friday (21 April), after a night that nearly saw the cancellation of the lunar landing. A series of problems on both the lunar landing module (LEM) and the command ship caused many anxious moments. But the problems were finally solved and the crew was given the go-ahead for a landing -- six hours later than schedule.
After eight-hours of sleep and a hurried breakfast, the two lunar explorers stepped out of their spacecraft for the first time. Mission controllers hoped the astronauts could make all three planned outings, but the third one, due on Sunday (23 April), might be severely curtailed.
Once out of their lunar lander on Friday, Young and Duke got to work deploying their lunar rover and several surface experiments. As with previous Apollo missions, one of the first duties of the astronauts is to set up a flag of the United States.
The most important surface experiment, the heat flow experiment, was again plagued by troubles, although different from those encountered on Apollo 15. Boring holes for the experiment, Apollo 15 commander David Scott raised blisters on his hands attempting to use the special drill. On this mission, Charles Duke easily bored the holes with an improved drill, but John Young's boot accidentally broke a cable connecting the date unit of the heat flow experiment to thermometers inserted in the holes Duke had drilled. Mission controllers said there was no way to repair the high-priority, 1.2 million dollar instrument.
Later, astronauts Young and Duke completed their first extravehicular activity (EVA) with a drive in their lunar rover past the craters called Flag and Spook to gather moon rocks.
SYNOPSIS: The lunar landscape as seen by the Apollo-16 astronauts and millions of earth-bound television viewers, as John Young and Charles Duke became the ninth and tenth humans to set foot on the moon. The lunar landing had come six-hours later than scheduled due to a number of problems on both the lunar landing module and the command ship.
After deploying the lunar rover vehicle, astronaut John Young unfurled the U.S. flag and each of the astronauts in turn posed for pictures. This first moon walk was primarily taken up with deploying lunar surface experiments and radying the lunar rover for the next two excursions, although Young and Duke did manage a short drive near the end of this first extravehicular activity.
Astronaut Duke on his way to set up the most important of the lunar surface experiments -- the heat flow experiment. The one-point-two million dollar, high priority experiment was destroyed, however, as John Young accidentally kicked vital cables in the data unit. The cables hook up to thermometers inserted in holes drilled by Duke.
The drill had been troublesome on Apollo 15, raising blisters on the hands of Commander David Scott. Although the overall heat flow experiment was doomed by John Young's boot, this time the drill worked effortlessly for excited astronaut Charles Duke.