DR. SKY BLOG

With death of Capt. Alan Bean, only 4 Apollo moon walkers now alive

Jun 2, 2018, 2:00 PM
FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2008, file photo, Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, is shown du...

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2008, file photo, Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, is shown during a preview of his work at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. Bean, the Apollo and Skylab astronaut, fourth human to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, has died. Bean, 86, died on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks before. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck, File)

(AP Photo/Harry Cabluck, File)

With the recent passing of Apollo 12 astronaut Capt. Alan Bean, it reminds us of the rarity of those who have actually “walked” on the moon.

To date, only 12 humans have ever walked on the moon — and only a third of the original members of that exclusive club are still with us.

The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11, passed on to the cosmos on Aug. 25, 2012. He was 82 years old at his passing and walked on the moon when he was 38 years old.

Pete Conrad of Apollo 12 passed away back on July 8, 1999 in a motorcycle accident. He was only 69 years old at that time and walked on the moon at age 39.

America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, went to the moon on Apollo 14 in February 1971 and passed away back on July 21, 1998 at 74 years old. He walked on the moon when he was 47 years old (the oldest of the moonwalkers).

Dr. Edgar Mitchell was the other moon walker on Apollo 14 — and a personal friend of mine — who passed on the infinite back on Feb. 4, 2016. He was 85 years old at his passing and walked the moon when he was 40 years old.

Mitchell always reminded me that when I do many of my Dr. Sky public educational programs to always let people know that, from the surface of the moon, the Earth is four times the size of our full moon in our sky.

James Irwin of Apollo 15 passed back on Aug. 8, 1991; he was only 61 years old. He walked on the moon and rode in the lunar rover, back in 1971, when he was 41 years old.

John Young of Apollo 16, one of the astronauts with an amazing amount of time in space, passed back on Jan. 8 of this year. He walked on the moon back in 1972 when he was 41 years old.

Finally, Eugene Cernan, the last man on the moon, passed back on Jan. 16, 2017 at 82 years of age. He walked on the moon back in 1972, at the age of 38.

That leaves us with the remaining four Apollo astronaut team:

• Dr. Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11, the second man on the moon. He is now 88 years old, the oldest of the remaining moon walkers.

• David Scott of Apollo 15. He is now 85 years old.

• Charles Duke of Apollo 16. He is now 82 years old.

• Dr. Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17, the only geologist of the moon walkers. He is 82 years old.

And finally, some amazing facts about the Apollo 12 mission to the moon!

The only president to have watched a live launch of the Apollo moon mission was President Richard Nixon. He was there for the launch of Apollo 12.

That launch seemed to go off well, but 38 seconds into the launch, the Apollo 12 Saturn V was hit by lightning. This could have caused a major space disaster.

Astronauts Conrad, Bean and Gordon inside the Apollo 12 capsule were heard saying, “the hell was that,” as the 365-foot rocket surged from the lightning bolt.

They had just become the largest lightning rod in history.

They were actually hit twice as all instruments went dark and blank.

The astronauts now had some 90 seconds to decide what to do — or abort!

A miracle was about to happen, as 24 year old flight engineer John Aaron had seen a similar problem occur during an Apollo ground simulation.

He knew that a voltage change in the spacecraft may be controlled by a device known as the SCE (Signal Conditioning Equipment).

He calmly told his team that the Apollo 12 crew, needed to try and do this: “SCE to auxillary.”

By doing this, the spacecraft could operate under these low voltage conditions.

Luckily — and with seconds to spare — Bean filled the switch and the mission was able to continue.

Who knows what would have happened, if this fast acting engineer did not know what to do in those tense moments!

To print your very own June 2018 star chart, click here. To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

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With death of Capt. Alan Bean, only 4 Apollo moon walkers now alive