March 28, 2023

50 Years Ago: NASA Apollo 16 Launches to the Moon

Succeeding views of the receding Earth as Apollo 16 makes its method to the Moon. Credit: NASA
Young, Duke, and Mattingly all wore the helmet and face shield of the Apollo Light Flash Moving Emulsion Detector experiment and reported to Mission Control on the type, frequency, and color of any light flashed they saw. Young and Duke when again activated Orion and in a rehearsal of treatments utilized on landing day, they wore their spacesuits, without gloves and helmets, and the practiced moving through the docking tunnel. Soon prior to the astronauts went to sleep, they crossed the invisible border that marked the transition between the Earths and the Moons gravitational sphere of influence, and Apollo 16 started to accelerate towards its target.

The 5th Moon landing objective began with the April 16, 1972 launch of Apollo 16. The giant Saturn V rocket took off from Launch Pad 39A at NASAs Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida with Commander John W. Young, Command Module Pilot Thomas K. “Ken” Mattingly, and Lunar Module Pilot Charles M. Duke strapped inside their pill.
The Apollo 16 crew of Thomas K. “Ken” Mattingly, left, John W. Young, and Charles M. Duke. Credit: NASA
After their rocket provided them into a parking orbit around the Earth, the 3rd phase reignited to send them on their way to the Moon. Following an uneventful three-day coast to the Moon, Young, Mattingly, and Duke showed up in lunar orbit on April 19 to get ready for the landing in and exploration of the Descartes website and to carry out scientific observations from lunar orbit.

Two sequential photos of the Fluid Electrophoresis Demonstration experiment brought out throughout Apollo 16, revealing the differential movement of particles from left to. Credit: NASA
By the time Young, Mattingly, and Duke awoke to begin their 4th day in area, they had closed the range to the Moon to simply 22,200 miles. As soon as again, Mission Control canceled a prepared midcourse correction maneuver as the spacecraft continued to preserve a steady trajectory. The astronauts jettisoned the panel that covered the Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) bay in the Service Module. Throughout launch and the translunar coast, the 5-by-9-foot panel, sometimes referred to as the worlds biggest lens cap, protected the electronic cameras and other instruments and a deployable subsatellite in the SIM-bay utilized to study the Moon and its environment from orbit.
A number of hours later, as previous lunar missions had actually done, Apollo 16 disappeared behind the leading edge of the Moon and communications with Mission Control stopped as anticipated. While behind the Moon, exactly 74 hours and 28 minutes after leaving Earth, Apollo 16 fired its SPS engine for 6 minutes and 14 seconds to go into an elliptical orbit around the Moon.
To be continued …

The Apollo 16 crew patch. Credit: NASA
The terminal countdown for Apollo 16s launch started on April 14 and continued without any significant issues. Engineers in Firing Room 1 of KSCs Launch Control Center (LCC) kept an eye on all elements of the countdown, consisting of the final fueling of the Saturn V rocket. Young, Mattingly, and Duke consumed their standard steak and eggs breakfast prior to putting on their spacesuits and taking the Astrovan to Launch Pad 39A, where they boarded their spacecraft, the Command Module (CM) Casper.
At the standard prelaunch breakfast, Apollo 16 astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly, and Charles M. Duke are joined by backup and support astronauts and supervisors. Credit: NASA
Young took the left-hand seat, Duke the right, and lastly Mattingly settled in the middle. Thousands of viewers put together along the beaches near KSC to view the launch. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew arrived in the shooting rooms viewing gallery to view the launch with senior NASA supervisors.
Apollo 16 astronauts Young, left, Mattingly, and Duke dressing prior to their launch. Credit: NASA
Liftoff on 7.7 million pounds of thrust came at 12:54 p.m. Eastern on April 16, 1972. The Saturn V rocket launched Apollo 16 into a clear afternoon sky.
In Firing Room 1 of the Launch Control Center at NASAs Kennedy Space Centerin Florida, engineers monitor the progress of the Apollo 16 countdown. Credit: NASA
In the MCC, Flight Director Eugene F. Kranz led his White Team of controllers who monitored this phase of the objective, with NASA astronaut C. Gordon Fullerton serving as capsule communicator (capcom), the person who talked directly to the crew throughout the flight. After burning for 2 minutes and 42 seconds and raising the rocket to an elevation of 40 miles, the very first stage engines shutoff and the phase jettisoned.
In the Firing Room 1 viewing gallery, NASA Deputy Administrator George M. Low, left, NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher, and Vice President Spiro T.Agnew observe the Apollo 16 launch. Credit: NASA
It burned for 2 and a half minutes to place Apollo 16 into a circular 105-mile-high parking orbit around the Earth. The astronauts were now weightless, and Young reported enthusiastically, “Boy, its simply gorgeous up here, looking out the window.
Liftoff of Apollo 16! Credit: NASA
For the next two and a half hours, Apollo 16, still connected to the Saturn Vs third phase, orbited the Earth. Young, Mattingly, and Duke eliminated their gloves and helmets but for now kept their spacesuits on. Together with Mission Control, they figured out that all onboard systems were working nominally, and that they might proceed with Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI), the 2nd burn of the Saturn Vs third stage to send them out of Earth orbit and towards the Moon. The engine fired and ignited for 5 minutes and 51 seconds, increasing Apollo 16s speed to 24,229 miles per hour to begin the three-day coast to the Moon.
The Apollo 16 astronauts took this photograph of Baja California, Mexico, during the very first transformation around the Earth. Credit: NASA
Twenty-five minutes after the shutdown of the 3rd phase engine, Fullerton phoned to the crew that they were “Go” for the transposition and docking maneuver. 6 minutes later on, and currently more than 4,200 miles from Earth, Mattingly separated the Command and Service Module Casper from the spent phase that still held the Lunar Module (LM) Orion. He moved Casper about 60 feet away prior to turning it around and beginning the rendezvous procedure.
Clouds over the Pacific Ocean during Apollo 16s second transformation around the Earth. Credit: NASA
Duke set up a cam in the window and Mission Control received the image of the LM as they slowly approached it, along with what Duke called “a zillion particles” taking a trip with them, most likely flakes of paint from the LM. By the conclusion of the docking maneuver, less than three and a half hours after liftoff, Apollo 16 had actually traveled more than 7,800 miles from Earth.
The Apollo 16 Lunar Module Orion still connected to the Saturn V rockets 3rd stage throughout the transposition and docking maneuver. Credit: NASA
Later on in the day, Franks Orange Team of controllers with Peterson as capcom resumed their consoles to assist the astronauts conduct a midcourse correction (MCC-2) maneuver, a two-second burn of the 20,000-pound thrust Service Propulsion System (SPS) engine to decrease the point of closest technique to the Moon from 135 miles to 82 miles, the appropriate elevation for the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) burn. Young and Duke triggered the LM Orion, investing about two hours inspecting and triggering out its systems and moving products such as movie cassettes. Young, Mattingly, and Duke went to sleep, now 162,000 miles from Earth.

The terminal countdown for Apollo 16s launch began on April 14 and proceeded without any considerable concerns. The Saturn V rocket released Apollo 16 into a clear afternoon sky. For the next two and a half hours, Apollo 16, still attached to the Saturn Vs 3rd stage, orbited the Earth. The engine fired up and fired for 5 minutes and 51 seconds, increasing Apollo 16s speed to 24,229 miles per hour to begin the three-day coast to the Moon.
Soon before the astronauts went to sleep, they crossed the invisible limit that marked the transition in between the Earths and the Moons gravitational sphere of influence, and Apollo 16 began to speed up toward its target.