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Apollo 12 Mission: 9 Wild Facts & Trivia You Probably Didn't Know

Culture | November 14, 2019

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 Ala

The Apollo 12 mission took Pete Conrad, Richard Francis Gordon Jr, and Alan Bean the Moon -- the second trio of Astronauts to make the trip. Following in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was bound to be a lower-profile job, but it wasn't any less interesting. The trivia and stories of Apollo 12 suggest a wackier mission and crew. These men can boast that they took photos of naked ladies to the Moon, and were struck by lightning on their way. Here are some unforgettable facts and tidbits about the second most famous mission to the moon. 

The Smallest Human Art Museum Lives On The Moon

The Moon art museum complete with Andy Warhol's penis. Source: (artsblock.ucr.edu)

Many people might not know about the Moon’s art museum and the great artists who contributed to its existence. Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, and the incomparable Andy Warhol all have pieces in the smallest art museum in human history.

Contained in an iridium-plated ceramic wafer, measuring three-quarters of an inch by half an inch, those great artists etched their work into history. Of course, Andy Warhol’s tiny penis stands out the most. 

Even The Moon Has Porn

Space can be a lonely place. Source: (hq.nasa.gov)

Humans love creating things we already have. Of our many inventions that we own a ridiculous surplus of, adult photography might be number one. Therefore, the moon shouldn’t be left out of carnal excesses.

In an instruction manual that made the rip, next to the “Geology Traverse Prep” (where else?) lounges a buxom brunette with the caption: "Seen any interesting hills and valleys?" Elsewhere in the documentation, next to the “LMP Activity” (whatever that is) there’s a blonde with “Preferred Tether Partner” below it. 

Part Of Apollo 12 Stayed In Space For 40 Years

"LMP Activity" probably didn't the attention it deserved. Source: ( hq.nasa.gov)

Named Joo2E3, the object was discovered by amateur astronomer Bill Yeung in 2003. The S-IVB, essentially a rocket engine, was designed to be shot into space from the Apollo 12 and remain in permanent heliocentric orbit. However, the motors meant to jettison the device failed to fully expel it from the earth-moon gravity system. Crazily, the device was photographed 16 years ago and could potentially return within the view of Earth around 2040.

It’s Electric!

The fastest lightning rod in history. Source: (spaceflightnow)

Another mostly unknown tale regarding the Apollo 12 related to how the whole mission almost went to hell. As the astronauts rocketed to outer space faster than the speed of sound, a potentially destructive event occurred. Apollo 12 was hit by lightning. One could think of a hundred outcomes from a NASA rocket getting hit by lightning. One you might not consider: the rocket turning into the largest lightning rod in human history, not to mention shorting out all the electrical equipment.

When the bolt hit, astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad saw a bright white flash and yelled, “The hell was that?" Quickly all of their instruments lit up like a Christmas tree before everything went dead. As you can imagine, it’s a bad time for your instruments to fail as you’re hurtling into outer space at nearly 800 mph. As Conrad told Houston, "I don't know what happened here, we had everything in the world drop out!"

Even worse, no one at Mission Control knew what to do and the last chance to abort was only 60 seconds away! Thankfully, a 24-year-old NASA engineer offered the mission saving suggestion, “Try SCE to Aux." After a few tense seconds and some flipping of switches, everything got back to normal. As Conrad said, "Now we're working out our problems here. I don't know what happened. I'm not sure we didn't get hit by lightning!"

One Step For A Small Man

Conrad overcame dyslexia and a sense of humor to become an astronaut. Source: (discogs)

Before the astronauts on Apollo 12 left Earth, Conrad made a bet with Italian Journalist Oriana Fallaci. Apparently, Fallaci thought that the government gave astronauts a script on what to say. After all who comes up with “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” Conrad bet Fallaci $500 he could say what he wanted and even told her what he was going to say.

That’s why when Conrad finally touches down on the Moon he tells Mission Control, "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me." Conrad standing five foot six may have dropped the first joke on the Moon!

From left to right: Apollo 12 commander Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr., command module pilot Richard F. Gordon Jr. and lunar module pilot Alan L. Bean. Source: (solarsystem.nasa.gov)

It’s hard to beat adult photos, a penis, and a lightning bolt hitting a rocket ship but here are some other interesting facts from Apollo 12.

• Traveling faster than the speed of sound, it took the Apollo 12 110 hours, 32 minutes and 35 seconds to get from Earth to the Moon.

• It’s not just your family that loses the camera while on vacation. Astronaut Alan Bean, shortly after landing, accidentally pointed their handheld camera at the sun, which instantly destroyed it.

More Apollo 12 Facts

General Motors leased the trio new Corvettes for just $1 per year. Source: (collectspace)

• Jokester Pete Conrad nicknamed their planned landing location: Pete’s Parking Lot. He only missed the exact landing location by 580 feet.

• Camera extraordinaire Alan Bean smuggled a timer onto the craft. Of course, he couldn’t find it once they got to the Moon. A camera also knocked Ben unconscious during the landing back on Earth. Clearly, cameras weren’t Bean’s strength.

Tags: A Brief History Of... | Apollo 12 | NASA | Rare Facts And Stories About History

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!