50 Years Ago, Apollo 12 Astronauts Walked on the Moon. They Had the Funniest Crew

Apollo 11 may have made history as the first mission to land humans on the moon, but Apollo 12, which landed on the moon 50 years ago today, apparently had the funniest crew, according to NPR.

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. 

Video: Stormy Launch to the Ocean of Storms 
More:
Apollo 12 Was Struck By Lightning Right After Launch … Twice! 

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. 

Related: Apollo 12 in Pictures: NASA’s Pinpoint Moon Landing Mission

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NASA's Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Pete Conrad (left), Richard Gordon (center) and Alan Bean smile in an isolation room after returning from the moon on Nov. 24, 1969.

NASA’s Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Pete Conrad (left), Richard Gordon (center) and Alan Bean smile in an isolation room after returning from the moon on Nov. 24, 1969. (Image credit: NASA)
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Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad (front) Richard Gordon (left) and Alan Bean (center top in background) walk out to the Astovan for the trip to the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of their Nov. 14, 1969 launch.

Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad (front) Richard Gordon (left) and Alan Bean (center top in background) walk out to the Astovan for the trip to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of their Nov. 14, 1969 launch. (Image credit: NASA)
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A Saturn V rocket launches NASA's Apollo 12 mission to the moon from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Nov. 14, 1969.

A Saturn V rocket launches NASA’s Apollo 12 mission to the moon from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Nov. 14, 1969. (Image credit: NASA)
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The crew of Apollo 12, NASA's second manned mission to the moon, from left, astronauts Charles 'Pete' Conrad Jr. (1930 - 1999), Richard Francis Gordon Jr., and Alan LaVern Bean, as they sit on their Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays, Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 23, 1969.

The crew of Apollo 12, NASA’s second manned mission to the moon, from left, astronauts Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad Jr. (1930 – 1999), Richard Francis Gordon Jr., and Alan LaVern Bean, as they sit on their Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays, Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 23, 1969. (Image credit: Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty)
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Another look at the Apollo 12 crew.

Another look at the Apollo 12 crew. (Image credit: NASA)
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The Apollo 12 crew walk out to the launchpad.

The Apollo 12 crew walk out to the launchpad. (Image credit: NASA)
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Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean landed on the moon on Nov. 19, 1969.

Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean landed on the moon on Nov. 19, 1969. (Image credit: NASA)
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Astronaut Alan L. Bean, Apollo 12, walks on the Moon's surface. Commander Charles Conrad Jr. is reflected in Bean's helmet visor.

Astronaut Alan L. Bean, Apollo 12, walks on the Moon’s surface. Commander Charles Conrad Jr. is reflected in Bean’s helmet visor. (Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)
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Portrait of the crew of Apollo 12 as they sit on a trio of Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays, Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 23, 1969. The crew, NASA's second manned mission to the moon, was, from left, astronauts Pete Conrad (1930 - 1999), Richard Francis Gordon Jr, and Alan Bean.

Portrait of the crew of Apollo 12 as they sit on a trio of Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays, Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 23, 1969. The crew, NASA’s second manned mission to the moon, was, from left, astronauts Pete Conrad (1930 – 1999), Richard Francis Gordon Jr, and Alan Bean. (Image credit: Chevrolet)
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Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad (left), Richard Gordon (center) and Alan Bean with their AstroVette Corvettes and a lunar lander in a crew portrait from 1969.

Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad (left), Richard Gordon (center) and Alan Bean with their AstroVette Corvettes and a lunar lander in a crew portrait from 1969. (Image credit: Chevrolet)

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. 

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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