Five Facts About Apollo 16!

Hey, Sky Fans! Happy Earth Day!

The Earth seen from Apollo 16 (from NASA)
The Earth seen from Apollo 16 (from NASA)

This week is the 45th anniversary of Apollo 16’s launch and it becoming the fifth mission to land astronauts on the moon. So, in honor of that, here’s five facts about Apollo 16!


  1. Commander John Young, who also flew on Apollo 10, was one of only three astronauts to head to the moon twice. The others were Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 & Apollo 13) and Gene Cernan (Apollo 10 & Apollo 17). He went on to command the first Space Shuttle launch (STS-1)on April 12, 1981 about the Shuttle Columbia.
  2. Commander Young and Lunar Module (LM) pilot Charlie Duke covered over 27 km (about 18 miles) in their lunar rover during the mission’s three EVAs (extra-vehicular activities; moonwalks), which, combined lasted over 20 hours. Wow, almost a whole day spent driving around on the moon.
  3. Command Module (CM) pilot Ken Mattingly was originally supposed to be the Command Module pilot on the troubled Apollo 13 mission, which returned safely 47 years ago this week, but he was pulled from that mission out of concerns that he might come down with rubella (German measles) during 13’s flight. He never did.
  4. After the lunar module returned to the command module, the crew released a satellite of its own, PFS-2 to further study the moon. PFS-1 was released by Apollo 15.
  5. Just before setting sail for home, John Young left a photo of his family on the ground in the Descartes Highlands, where they’d been exploring. That photo is still there, possibly bleached blank by 45 years of intense sunlight.

Today’s Earth Day. It’s important, I agree, to have a day like today, but one day doesn’t really do it. It doesn’t go far enough. Earth Day seems even more important these days, with the current attitude of the White House and the administration. We should be protect and celebrate the Earth every day. Imagine if there were no fighting, no polluting, none of it, every day. For today, take it easy on this place, our only home. This mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam is all we’ve got. I won’t be able, but if you’re participating in one of the Marches for Science, thank you.

I’ll turn things over to one of my heroes, as I’m sure loads of other people are today. He’ll say it much better than I can. Here’s Dr. Sagan.

Clear skies, everyone, stay safe, and have a great weekend.


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