“And we’ve got a long day ahead of us.”
That’s what Pete Conrad says
back at the Lunar Module
after the big traverse, that began
hours earlier with a loop around the crown
of Head crater, the snowman’s head,
a hundred yards west of where Intrepid
sat in front of Surveyor crater.
Hey, look at that! Where Pete’s boot
kicked up the dirt. It’s lighter underneath,
perhaps ray material kicked up from Copernicus
230 miles to the north.
“We could work out here for eight-nine hours!”
On we run — ol’ Pete a stickler for sticking to the timeline.
“You know what I feel like?
“Did you ever see those pictures of giraffes running in slow motion?”
We reach the southern rim of Bench crater, finding it’s walls steeper
than we’ve seen “I see really different rocks. What a crater!”
Is that exposed bedrock at the bottom? “We’ve got to grab samples
of some of these rocks,” but stay along the rim, no time for deeper
Soon time to jaunt over to tiny Sharp crater,
400 ft. to the southwest. “If we can find it.”
“There it is.”
“That’s not it.”
“Where is it?”
“It should be right here.”
The moons steep curvature is deceiving, a hint
of a problem that will plague future missions.
“I’ve got it — it’s right in front of me.”
“Holy Christmas — look at the bottom of it.
Look at that radial spray pattern.”
We are 1,200 feet from Intrepid
“Come on, Al — we’re wasting time.”
Gotta keep moving — to Halo crater
just off the southwest rim of Surveyor,
our grand goal. Which we approach cautiously,
careful of the steep crater slope. But find it
no problem. “I’m going to lope right around here,
follow the contours.”
And fears that the ol’ Surveyor might slide
at our touch prove unfounded. “There’s no way
it could slide down the hill on it, the way
it’s dug in.”
Look at it — once factory white, it looks tan, brown.
“It has weathered a little bit in 31 months, hasn’t it?”
And to investigate just how it’s weathered the Sea of Storms,
we cut off bits of tubing to return to earth, and the big prize,
Surveyor’s TV camera.
“OK, two more tubes on that TV camera, and that baby’s ours.
“There’s one.” Two! “It’s ours!”
And as a bonus, we swipe Surveyors mechanical scoop.
“It still has dirt in it — original dirt. A bonus sample for you!”
One last stop on the way home — Block crater
just inside Surveyor crater’s rim.
“That’s gotta be bedrock there. We gotta sample that.”
Too soon, time is up — the traverse of nearly a mile
has taken 2 hours, 45 minutes. We have a half hour extension,
but time is up. We need to pack up — Mission Control hurries us on.
“We’ve got a long day ahead of us.”
The moonwalk of nearly 4 hours ends and it’s far
from over. We are due to leave the moon justin 6.5 hours.
Still, ol’ Pete is upset — We enter Intrepid
with two hours of oxygen left in our backpacks that
we could have used exploring. Those two hours —
we just sit around in the Lunar Module, dead time before
the preparations for lunar liftoff. It’s a shame but . . .
. . . at 9:25 a.m. EST, November 20, we light the engine
and lift-off to a spray of dust, our farewell touch of the moon.
And 7 min. 12 sec. later, we’re back in orbit,
headed from rendezvous with our command ship Yankee Clipper.
Three hours later, two dirty moonwalkers, “dirty dirt,”
as ol’ Pete calls it, dust everywhere, open the hatch
to the command ship and its pilot, Dick Gordon,
who calls, “You guys ain’t gonna mess up my nice clean spacecraft!”
Yep — ol’ Dick couldn’t be happier.