EXPLORATIONS -- a program in Special English by the Voice of America.
The summer of 1969 a special time in history. That was when
men from Earth -- American astronauts -- flew their Apollo 11 spacecraft to
the moon, landed and returned home safely. The world honored the astronauts as
Neil 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.
Today, Harry Monroe and Kay Gallant tell about the flights that followed
Apollo Eleven to the moon.
Apollo 12 lifted off only four months after the Apollo 11 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
36 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 12 could
continue its flight to the moon.
All three astronauts of Apollo 12 were Navy fliers. Charles Conrad was
the flight commander. Richard Gordon was pilot of the command module. Alan Bean
was pilot of the moon lander.
After four days, Apollo 12 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
2,000 kilometers west of the place where Apollo Eleven had landed.
Richard 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 6,000 pictures of the moon before it stopped
Conrad 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. "
Alan Bean followed Charles Conrad to the surface. The two astronauts
collected about 35 kilograms of rocks. They left five scientific
instruments designed to send information back to Earth. And they visited the old
The two astronauts spent more than 31 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 13 -- 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.
Apollo 14 was launched in January, 1971. It landed in the hilly Fra Mauro
area of the moon.
Fra Mauro is a huge highlands east of Apollo 12's landing place. A large
meteorite hit the area 4,000 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.
The commander of the Apollo 14 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 14 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 the lander.
Apollo 12 and Apollo 14 produced much new scientific information.
And they increased the interest of scientists in the next Apollo flights to the
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.
The lunar rover was powered by electricity. It could carry two astronauts
more than 30 kilometers from the lander. It could carry more than 110
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 15. They
landed at Hadley Rille near the Apennine Mountains, northwest of the place where
Apollo 11 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 76 kilos of moon rocks. And they placed a small satellite in lunar
orbit before they returned to Earth.
The Apollo 15 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 4,000 million years old. Scientists say
the rock was created very early in the life of the moon.
Soil brought back contained bits of orange glass. Scientists said the glass
came from material created as deep as 300 kilometers below the moon's surface.
Astronauts John Young, Thomas Mattingly and Charles Duke flew Apollo 16
to the moon in April, 1972. Young and Duke landed southwest of the Apollo Eleven
landing place. They spent 45 hours on the moon. They collected rocks and set up
Astronauts Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans made the last
Apollo flight to the moon. That was in December, 1971.
Cernan and Schmitt landed in a valley almost directly north of the Apollo
Eleven landing place. They spent 75 hours, in all, on the surface. More
than 24 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 14. Just before leaving,
they placed a metal sign on the surface. The sign was to remain forever.
It said: "Here man completed his first exploration of the moon, December,
1971. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all
Production of the Saturn Five rocket and the Apollo spacecraft ended with
Apollo 17. 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.
You have been listening to the story of the United States' Apollo space
flight program that sent people to the moon. This program was written by Marilyn
Rice Christiano. Your narrators were Kay Gallant and Harry Monroe. This is
Shirley Griffith. Listen again next week for another Explorations program on the
Voice of America.
meteorite : 陨星