Just a few short months after Apollo 11 made history as the first crewed landing on the Moon, Apollo 12 touched down on the lunar surface.

Pete Conrad, the Commander of Apollo 12, exclaimed "Yippee!" upon setting foot on the surface – properly capturing the excitement many felt about a successful return to the Moon. 

Apollo 12 carried out a precision landing to successfully land on the Moon at a pinpointed destination. Landing within walking distance of the Surveyor III spacecraft, astronauts intended to bring back instruments from the Surveyor III, such as its camera, to examine the effects of long-term exposure to the lunar environment.  

Other objectives of the Apollo 12 mission included inspecting the lunar mare area, which are plains on the Moon. They were also tasked with deploying an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP), developing techniques for a point landing capability, and obtaining photographs of candidates for future exploration sites.  

Meet the Astronauts

The Apollo 12 crew at Johnson Space Center, September 1969:  Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., commander; Richard “Dick” F. Gordon, command module pilot; and Alan L. Bean, lunar module pilot.
  • Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr., Commander: Conrad had previously served on the Gemini V and XI missions before serving as Commander on Apollo 12. He would also go on go served as a Commander for Skylab 2. 
  • Richard "Dick" F. Gordon, Command Module Pilot: Prior to Apollo 12, Gordon had served with Conrad during the Gemini XI mission. 
  • Alan L. Bean, Lunar Module Pilot: After serving as the Lunar Module Pilot during Apollo 12, Bean went on to serve as Commander for Skylab 3. 
A Shocking Start

About 37 seconds into the launch of Apollo 12, the Saturn V launch vehicle was struck by lightning. The lightning strike threatened to cause the mission to be aborted. Luckily, a quick thinking flight controller passed information on to Astronaut Alan Bean, who was able to flip the correct switch and save the mission. Learn about Apollo 12's shocking start and more in this episode of STEM in 30. Want to hear even more stories from Apollo 12? Check out the mission debrief. 

More Stem in 30 episodes
Seeing Apollo 12

“Astronaut Conrad gives the impression that he is on a joyride of no significance whatsoever.” 

During the Apollo 12 mission, the camera meant to capture astronauts work on the Moon for television was damaged by accident, leaving audiences back at home to rely on audio from the excursion. One particularly bothered citizen wrote to NASA complaining about the way Commander Conrad came across on the audio. His crewmate Alan Bean would go on to paint a series of paintings offering a glimpse of what Apollo 12 looked like.   

Alan Bean's paintings

Apollo 12 in the Collection

Helmet, Pressure bubble, Conrad, Apollo 12 Object ALSRC, Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container, Apollo 12 Object Command Module, Apollo 12 Object Audio Cassette, Apollo 12 Object