Apollo XII Mission - Page 6 of 8
Examination of the Surveyor, the only human artifact ever encountered in lunar exploration, was among the more interesting parts of the mission for Conrad and Bean. What they noticed first was that much of its originally white surface had turned brown - a change they attributed to a deposit of dust when they found it could be wiped off. After photographing the surrounding surface and examining the spacecraft, they removed the Surveyor's television camera and cut off pieces of electrical cable and structural tubing for study by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They decided to remove the trenching scoop as well and collected soil samples.

Back in their spacecraft, Conrad and Bean noticed that they had carried in considerably more lunar dust than Armstrong and Aldrin had reported. Conrad told Houston they looked like "a couple of bituminous coal miners right at the moment, but we're happy." Sitting on the floor in his grimy space suit, Conrad couldn't believe that he and Bean had climbed back into the LM after only four hours outside during their second excursion and with a couple of hours of extra oxygen still in their backpacks. He was frustrated but he had agreed that if Mission Control gave him one time extension, he wouldn't ask for another.

Despite the fact that they had tripled the existing record for lunar surface activity, spending 7 hours and 45 minutes on the lunar surface, Bean and Conrad were not exhausted and had expended about 10 percent less energy than anticipated. Both returned to the lunar module with almost 40 percent of their oxygen supply remaining on both excursions. So with time to kill, two dirty, tired but happy "coal miners" ate lunch and started on their checklist for liftoff.

Prior to Intrepid's liftoff from the moon, Conrad could see that Bean was nervous. He had had similar feelings during Gemini V wondering, after a week in the frigid cold of space, if the retro rockets would fire. Conrad asked, "Beano, are you worried about the engine?" When Bean answered "Yep," Conrad tried to humor him by saying, "Well, there's no sense worrying about it, Al, because if it don't work, we're just gonna became the first permanent monument to the space program." Later in the morning of November 20, 1969, Intrepid's ascent stage lifted off the moon on time.

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