On This Day in Space: Nov. 14, 1969: Apollo 12 launches to the moon

On Nov. 14, 1969, the Apollo 12 mission launched to the moon. This was the second moon landing of the Apollo program. 

The two astronauts on board were Pete Conrad, commander, and Alan Bean, the lunar module pilot. Astronaut Richard Gordon, the command module pilot, stayed in the command module and orbited the moon while his crewmates went to the surface. The astronauts made a pinpoint landing in a lunar mare called the Ocean of Storms. 

Apollo 12 in Pictures: Photos from NASA’s Pinpoint Moon Landing Mission

The previous moon mission, Apollo 11, drifted far from the planned landing zone. But Apollo 12 landed close to a scientific target. That target was a robotic lander called Surveyor 3. Scientists wanted to look at Surveyor 3 to see how well the spacecraft lasted on the moon since it landed there more than two years earlier. 

The Apollo 12 moonwalkers also performed a lot of moon science. The astronauts picked up 75 pounds of moon rocks. Most of the rocks were basalts that formed from molten lava. These basalts showed the Apollo 12 landing site is more than 3 billion years old. 

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Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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