Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 42

Apollo 16


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Launch- and landing data

Launch date:  16.04.1972
Launch time:  17:54 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral (KSC)
Launch pad:  39-A
Altitude:  167 - 168 km
Inclination:  32,54°
Undocking CSM-LM:  20.04.1972, 18:07:31 UTC
Moon landing:  21.04.1972, 02:23:35 UTC
Landing point:  8° 58' 22.84" S 15° 30' 0.68" E
Docking CSM-LM:  24.04.1972, 03:35:18 UTC
Landing date:  27.04.1972
Landing time:  19:45 UTC
Landing site:  0° 70' S, 156° 22' W

walkout photo

hi res version (1,05 MB)

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Young  John Watts  CDR 4 11d 01h 51m  1,5 
2  Mattingly  Thomas Kenneth II "Ken"  CMP 1 11d 01h 51m  1,5 
3  Duke  Charles Moss, Jr. "Chuck"  LMP 1 11d 01h 51m  1,5 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Young
2  Mattingly
3  Duke

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Haise  Fred Wallace, Jr. "Pecky"  CDR
2  Roosa  Stuart Allen "Stu"  CMP
3  Mitchell  Edgar Dean "Ed"  LMP

photo courtesy J.L. Pickering

alternate crew photo


Launch from Cape Canaveral (KSC); landing 2000 km south of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. CSM was named "Casper" and the LM "Orion".

The launch of Apollo 16 was delayed one month from March 17, 1972 to April 16, 1972. This was the first launch delay in the Apollo program due to a technical problem. During the delay, the spacesuits, a spacecraft separation mechanism and batteries in the Lunar Module (LM) were modified and tested. There were concerns that the explosive mechanism designed to separate the docking ring from the Command Module would not create enough pressure to completely sever the ring. This, along with a dexterity issue in John Young's spacesuit and fluctuations in the capacity of the Lunar Module batteries, required investigation and trouble-shooting. In January 1972, three months before the planned April launch date, a fuel tank in the Command Module was accidentally damaged during a routine test. The rocket was returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building, the fuel tank replaced and the rocket returned to the launch pad in February in time for the scheduled launch

John Young, Thomas Mattingly and Charles Duke continued preparing for Lunar Module activation and undocking shortly after waking up to begin flight day five. The boom that extended the mass spectrometer out from the Command/Service Module's Scientific Instruments Bay was stuck in a semi-deployed position. It was decided that John Young and Charles Duke would visually inspect the boom after undocking from the CSM in the LM. John Young and Charles Duke entered the LM for activation and checkout of the spacecraft's systems. Despite entering the LM forty minutes ahead of schedule, John Young and Charles Duke completed preparations only ten minutes early due to numerous delays in the process. With the preparations finished, John Young and Charles Duke undocked in the LM Orion from Thomas Mattingly in the Command/Service Module Casper 96 hours, 13 minutes, 13 seconds into the mission. For the rest of the two spacecrafts' pass over the near side of the Moon, Thomas Mattingly prepared to shift Casper to a circular orbit while John Young and Duke prepared Orion for the descent to the lunar surface. At this point, during tests of the CSM's steerable rocket engine in preparation for the burn to modify the craft's orbit, a malfunction occurred in the engine's backup system. According to mission rules, Orion would have then re-docked with Casper, in case mission control decided to abort the landing and use the Lunar Module's engines for the return trip to Earth. After several hours of analysis, however, mission controllers determined that the malfunction could be worked around and John Young and Charles Duke could proceed with the landing. As a result of this, powered descent to the lunar surface began about six hours behind schedule. Because of the delay, John Young and Charles Duke began their descent to the surface at an altitude higher than that of any previous mission, at 20.1 kilometers (10.9 nmi). At an altitude of about 4,000 m (13,000 ft), John Young was able to view the landing site in its entirety. Throttle-down of the LM's landing engine occurred on time and the spacecraft tilted forward to its landing orientation at an altitude of 2,200 m (7,200 ft). The Lunar Module Orion, with John Young and Charles Duke inside, landed 270 m (890 ft) north and 60 m (200 ft) west of the planned landing site at 104 hours, 29 minutes, and 35 seconds into the mission, at 2:23:35 UTC on April 21, 1972

Apollo 15 marked the fifth manned moonlanding. As landing site scientists choose the Descartes Highlands. The lunar surface stay-time was 71h 2m. A LRV was used for the second time.

After landing, John Young and Charles Duke began powering down some of the LM's systems to conserve battery power. Upon completing their initial adjustments, the pair configured Orion for their three-day stay on the lunar surface, removed their spacesuits and took initial geological observations of the immediate landing site. They then settled down for their first meal on the surface. After eating, they configured the cabin for their first sleep period on the Moon.

Three EVAs were performed by John Young and Charles Duke.

The first EVA was performed on April 21, 1972 (7h 11m). After the pair donned and pressurized their spacesuits and depressurized the Lunar Module cabin, John Young climbed out onto the "porch" of the LM, a small platform above the ladder. Charles Duke handed John Young a jettison bag full of trash to dispose of on the surface. John Young then lowered the equipment transfer bag (ETB), containing equipment for use during the EVA, to the surface. John Young descended the ladder and, upon setting foot on the lunar surface, became the ninth human to walk on the Moon. Upon stepping onto the surface, John Young expressed his sentiments about being there: "There you are: Mysterious and Unknown Descartes. Highland plains. Apollo 16 is gonna change your image." Charles Duke soon descended the ladder and joined John Young on the surface, becoming the tenth and youngest human to walk on the Moon, at age 36. After setting foot on the lunar surface, Charles Duke expressed his excitement, commenting: "Fantastic! Oh, that first foot on the lunar surface is super, Tony!" The pair's first task of the moonwalk was to unload the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph (UVC), and other equipment, from the Lunar Module. This was done without problems. On first driving the lunar rover, John Young discovered that the rear steering was not working. He alerted mission control to the problem before setting up the television camera and planting the flag of the United States with Charles Duke. The day's next task was to deploy the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP); while they were parking the lunar rover, on which the TV camera was mounted, to observe the deployment, the rear steering began functioning without explanation. While deploying a heat-flow experiment that had burned up with the Lunar Module Aquarius on Apollo 13 and had been attempted without success on Apollo 15, a cable was inadvertently snapped after getting caught around John Young's foot. After ALSEP deployment, they collected samples in the vicinity. About four hours after the beginning of EVA-1, they mounted the lunar rover and drove to the first geologic stop, Plum Crater, a 36 m-wide (118 ft) crater on the rim of Flag Crater, a crater 290 m (950 ft) across. There, at a distance of 1.4 km (0.87 mi) from the LM, they sampled material from the vicinity of Flag Crater, which scientists believed penetrated through the upper regolith layer to the underlying Cayley Formation. It was there that John Young retrieved, at the request of mission control, the largest rock returned by an Apollo mission, a breccia nicknamed Big Muley after mission geology principal investigator Bill Muehlberger. The next stop of the day was Buster Crater, about 1.6 km (0.99 mi) from the LM. There, Charles Duke took pictures of Stone Mountain and South Ray Crater while John Young deployed a magnetic field experiment. At that point, scientists began to reconsider their pre-mission hypothesis that Descartes had been the setting of ancient volcanic activity, as the two astronauts had yet to find any volcanic material. Following their stop at Buster, John Young did a demonstration drive of the lunar rover while Charles Duke filmed with a 16 mm movie camera. After completing more tasks at the ALSEP, they returned to the LM to close out the moonwalk.

The second EVA was performed on April 22, 1972 (7h 23m). The second lunar excursion's primary objective was to visit Stone Mountain to climb up the slope of about 20 degrees to reach a cluster of five craters known as "Cinco Craters". After preparations for the day's moonwalk were completed, the astronauts climbed out of the Lunar Module. After departing the immediate landing site in the lunar rover, they arrived at the day's first destination, the Cinco Craters, 3.8 km (2.4 mi) from the LM. At 152 m (499 ft) above the valley floor, the pair were at the highest elevation above the LM of any Apollo mission. After marveling at the view from the side of Stone Mountain, which Charles Duke described as "spectacular", the astronauts gathered samples in the vicinity. After spending 54 minutes on the slope, they climbed aboard the lunar rover en route to the day's second stop, station five, a crater 20 m (66 ft) across. There, they hoped to find Descartes material that had not been contaminated by ejecta from South Ray Crater, a large crater south of the landing site. The samples they collected there, although their origin is still not certain, are, according to geologist Don Wilhelms, "a reasonable bet to be Descartes". The next stop, station six, was a 10 m-wide (33 ft) blocky crater, where the astronauts believed they could sample the Cayley Formation as evidenced by the firmer soil found there. Bypassing station seven to save time, they arrived at station eight on the lower flank of Stone Mountain, where they sampled material on a ray from South Ray Crater for about an hour. There, they collected black and white breccias and smaller, crystalline rocks rich in plagioclase. At station nine, an area known as the "Vacant Lot", which was believed to be free of ejecta from South Ray, they spent about 40 minutes gathering samples. Twenty-five minutes after departing station nine, they arrived at the final stop of the day, halfway between the ALSEP site and the LM. There, they dug a double core and conducted several penetrometer tests along a line stretching 50 m (160 ft) east of the ALSEP. At the request of John Young and Charles Duke, the moonwalk was extended by ten minutes. After returning to the LM to wrap up the second lunar excursion, they climbed back inside the landing craft's cabin, sealing and pressurizing the interior.

The third and final EVA was on April 23, 1972 (5h 40m). During the third and final lunar excursion, they were to explore North Ray Crater, the largest of any of the craters any Apollo expedition had visited. After exiting Orion, the pair drove the lunar rover 0.8 km (0.50 mi) away from the LM before adjusting their heading to travel 1.4 km (0.87 mi) to North Ray Crater. The drive was smoother than that of the previous day, as the craters were more shallow and boulders were less abundant north of the immediate landing site. Boulders gradually became larger and more abundant as they approached North Ray in the lunar rover. Upon arriving at the rim of North Ray Crater, they were 4.4 km (2.7 mi) away from the LM. After their arrival, the duo took photographs of the 1 km (0.62 mi) wide and 230 m (750 ft) deep crater. They visited a large boulder, taller than a four-story building, which became known as 'House Rock'. Samples obtained from this boulder delivered the final blow to the pre-mission volcanic hypothesis, proving it incorrect. House Rock had numerous bullet hole-like marks where micrometeroids from space had impacted the rock. About 1 hour and 22 minutes after arriving, they departed for station 13, a large boulder field about 0.5 km (0.31 mi) from North Ray. On the way, they set a lunar speed record, travelling at an estimated 17.1 kilometers per hour (10.6 mph) downhill. They arrived at a 3 m (9.8 ft) high boulder, which they called 'Shadow Rock'. Here, they sampled permanently shadowed soil. During this time, Thomas Mattingly was preparing the Command/Service Module in anticipation their return approximately six hours later. After three hours and six minutes, they returned to the LM, where they completed several experiments and offloaded the rover. A short distance from the LM, Charles Duke placed a photograph of his family and a United States Air Force commemorative medallion on the surface. John Young drove the rover to a point about 90 m (300 ft) east of the LM, known as the 'VIP site', so its television camera, controlled remotely by mission control, could observe Apollo 16's liftoff from the Moon.

Eight minutes before departing the lunar surface, capsule communicator (CAPCOM) James Irwin notified John Young and Charles Duke from mission control that they were go for liftoff. Two minutes before launch, they activated the "Master Arm" switch and then the "Abort Stage" button, after which they awaited ignition of Orion’s ascent stage engine. When the ascent stage ignited, small explosive charges severed the ascent stage from the descent stage and cables connecting the two were severed by a guillotine-like mechanism. Six minutes after liftoff, at a speed of about 5,000 kilometers per hour (3,100 mph), John Young and Charles Duke reached lunar orbit. John Young and Charles Duke successfully rendezvoused and re-docked with Thomas Mattingly in the Command/Service Module. To minimize the transfer of lunar dust from the LM cabin into the CSM, John Young and Charles Duke cleaned the cabin before opening the hatch separating the two spacecraft. After opening the hatch and reuniting with Thomas Mattingly, the crew transferred the samples John Young and Charles Duke had collected on the surface into the CSM for transfer to Earth. After transfers were completed, the crew would sleep before jettisoning the empty lunar module ascent stage the next day, when it was to be crashed intentionally into the lunar surface.

At a distance of about 170,000 nautical miles (310,000 km) from Earth, Thomas Mattingly performed a trans Earth EVA on April 25, 1972 of 1h 24m during returning to Earth to retrieve the film cassettes from the scientific instrument module cameras, inspect the equipment, and expose a microbial response experiment to the space environment. On the return flight several scientific experiments were performed.

When the wake-up call was issued to the crew for their final day in space by capsule communicator Anthony England, it was about 45,000 nautical miles (83,000 km) out from Earth, traveling just over 9,000 ft/s (2,700 m/s). Just over three hours before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, the crew performed a final course correction burn, changing their velocity by 1.4 ft/s (0.43 m/s). Approximately ten minutes before reentry into Earth's atmosphere the cone-shaped Command Module capsule, containing the three crewmembers, separated from the expended Service Module, which would burn up during reentry. At 265 hours and 37 minutes into the mission, at a velocity of about 36,000 ft/s (11,000 m/s), Apollo 16 began atmospheric reentry. At its maximum, the temperature of the heat shield was between 4,000 and 4,500 °F (2,204 and 2,482 °C). After successful parachute deployment and less than 14 minutes after reentry began the Command Module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean 350 km (220 mi) southeast of the island of Kiritimati (or "Christmas Island"), 290 hours, 37 minutes, 6 seconds after liftoff. The spacecraft and its crew was retrieved by the USS Ticonderoga. They were safely aboard the Ticonderoga 37 minutes after splashdown

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Last update on March 08, 2014.