In the audio interview above from NPR’s Morning Edition, NPR correspondent Geof Brumfiel and Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, the curator of the Apollo collection at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, discuss the often overlooked charm of Apollo 12.
They begin by noting that it’s common for Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 (because of its depiction in the film “Apollo 13” starring actor Tom Hanks) to overshadow Apollo 12. However, Apollo 12 was eventful from the get go.
To start off, just seconds after launching, the rocket carrying Apollo 12 astronauts commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, lunar module pilot Alan Bean and command module pilot Richard “Dick” Gordon was struck by lightning — twice! Luckily, with some quick thinking from NASA’s team on the ground, the crew got safely to and from the moon.
But, while the mission may have gotten off to a stormy start, the crew managed to keep things lighthearted. Conrad took a mixtape to the moon, and in the audio recordings of the mission (some of which are included in the interview), you can hear Conrad singing to himself while bouncing around on the lunar surface and all of the crew members cracking jokes and laughing with one another.
So take a listen for yourself above, and delight in the surprisingly whimsical moments from Apollo 12.