A 1080p remake of our popular Cosmic Journeys episode. It's the ultimate buddy movie, with two astronauts hitting the road and landing on the moon.
Earth. November 14, 1969. Three astronauts, with spacesuits, food, water, and a battery of scientific and communications equipment, prepared to fly to the moon. Thousands gathered at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including President and Mrs. Richard Nixon, to witness the historic launch. It was raining that day, but that was no cause for delay. The ship that would carry them into space was designed to launch in any weather.
But how would it respond to a powerful electrical storm now gathering above the launch pad? That was just the beginning of the incredible journey of Apollo 12.
With three astronauts fastened into their seats, the countdown proceeded. Astronaut and Mission Commander Pete Conrad would say later: "The flight was extremely normal, for the first 36 seconds." The five engines of the Saturn 5's huge first stage were designed to burn through 5 million pounds of liquid oxygen in just two and a half minutes, and to send the spacecraft up 67 kilometers above the Atlantic Ocean.
When it reached an altitude of 2000 meters, something unexpected happened. Racing through the stormy environment, the rocket generated a lightning bolt that traveled down its highly conductive exhaust trail.
Another bolt hit 16 seconds later. All of the spacecraft's circuit breakers shut off. The tracking system was lost. A young flight controller in Houston, Texas instructed astronaut Alan Bean on how to turn on an auxiliary power system. The mission was back on track. Once in Earth orbit, all systems appeared to check out, and flight control officials gave the crew the green light to leave Earth.
The astronauts were not told of concern that the lighting strikes had damaged the pyrotechnic system used to deploy the parachutes that would ease them back through the Earth's atmosphere. If that system failed, the astronaut